Tuesday, 14 August 2012

THE BUTLER DID IT


I’ve always been a lover of the good old-fashioned suspenseful thriller. In fact, to the worry of my husband, I’m obsessed with all things murder and mayhem. Okay, I shall clarify as I anticipate many of you have your finger ready to dial 911 (which will get you nowhere in the UK as it’s 999). I am a mystery ‘who done it’ junky (novels, news programs, procedurals etc.) and in today’s car crash culture where every other “Dateline” (an American sensationalistic news program) seems to be about a husband murdering a wife, a wife murdering a husband, a son murdering his parents etc.…[well you get the idea] it is very easy to get one’s fix.

I know this sounds incredibly macabre and I fear what this says about my personality, but as I am watching all these shows I pretend that it is fictional so as to make myself feel better for partaking in shows like this especially at other people's expense – while in the back of my head I know that the human animal is indeed this sinister and hence why I am home schooling the King (um…the jury is still out on that one as my math skills are frightening). Then again, perhaps watching all this stuff somehow makes me feel normal or at the very least sane - I have a toddler, that is a rare and foreign state of mind.

Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to my film picks, I will also make plenty of room for the more intellectual thriller that doesn’t necessarily involve murder, but these days these are certainly harder to come by when everything in the fictional (and nonfictional world for that matter) seems to revolve around a dead body – gone are the days of Hitchcock and Billy Wilder that’s for sure.

The problem is when it comes to the contemporary thriller genre (I can’t stop from singing Michael Jackson in my head, can you?) because the formula has been played out in every single derivation, it is very hard to see a ‘whodunit’ without knowing who done it - if you know what I mean. It gets to the point when I’m watching something that within the first five minutes I have figured out who has done it purely because the blueprint is not clever enough. Trust me, when I’m surprised by the ending, I’m very surprised. [A hint: if you’re watching TV, depending on the guest stars, the biggest actor with the most impressive CV always did it. Otherwise, he or she would never take the role just to be a bit player]. Unless of course the whole point of the said thriller IS to reveal who done it, ala “Seven,” or “Basic Instinct,” (is there anyone out there that didn’t think she had done it?) and just have the audience enjoy the cat and mouse aspect of it. 

The other problem in contemporary times is that the paradigm of the thriller has made its way onto television, specifically into the procedural format – we can thank Bruckheimer for this one. Therefore, every single twist and turn has been played out on one of the three thousand CSI offshoots. Although, in fair dues to Angela Lansbury, that woman was solving crime way before those tight skirts in Vegas were doing it with their fancy music montages. Which means that there are very few stories left to thrill that haven’t been played out to a tired degree.

Although, saying this, the way our news cycles turn over, there is always another unbelievable story out there that boggles the mind and defies belief. Here’s hoping, cause there are only so many times I can fool myself into believing I don’t know what’s in the box Jimmy Stewart’s neighbor is dragging out into the darkened night.




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