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Drah-mah!!! - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Drah-mah!!! [Apr. 16th, 2010|02:26 pm]
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When I was a kid, starting at about 7, I used to sneak magazines out of my great grandpa's magazine rack and hide on the sleeping porch to read them. They weren't porn, at least not how we generally think of porn. No, these were "True Crime" magazines, their covers displaying photos of terrified women cowering from shadows or a shapely leg with the highheeled pump askew, blood pooling beneath. The articles were horror stories of fear and mysterious death, hardboiled detectives and cynical cops tracking down the most unlikely suspects to find and punish these heinous killers.

I hadn't thought about those magazines in decades, not until, while visiting my mother-in-law, I found myself watching Law & Order: SVU. And there, on the screen in living color, was a perfect portrayal of the magazines from my youth. Oh, sure, more women are cops now, but the completely over-the-top melodrama is still there. In one episode, the initial murder was solved as if by magic, which also solved a dozen or more long-stale serial killer murders - mostly by just tossing pictures from the old murders in front of the suspect and babbling about how they had managed to connect him to every one of the deaths - a connection that hadn't been made 20 years earlier but now they'd dug up in about 15 minutes.

All but one, a copy cat murder. Which they eventually were pinning on an aging blonde. In best film noir fashion, they held her in a dark interrogation cell, badgering her to confess. She drank from her flask, thrashed her head back and forth, proclaimed her love and her innocence. Oh, but they had her. They knew! Their evidence was that she had once stalked the murdered woman's (now deceased in a fiery wreck) husband and she had confessed in her diary. They waved it in her face. "You wrote it right here! 'I killed her for you.' And then you killed him! 'You deserved to die for what you did!' We have you!"

"You don't understand," she screamed, leaping to her feet. "I didn't kill his wife! I killed" clutching her stomach "my baby!!!" And at that point she collapsed back into her chair. Of course the abortion caused her an infection and she was never able to have any more babies.

I thought, this can't get any sillier. But it did. Turns out that the helpful retired cop was actually the murderer, that she and the husband had staged his death by killing a drifter, but that the car hadn't caught fire, so the husband had gone down to throw gasoline on the fire, got horribly burned, and had been hiding out in her apartment, horribly made up to look like he was burned. Oh, but she loved him, they loved each other despite all that - and somehow had survived these appalling burns without medical treatment.

All accompanied by lots of head flailing and shouting. There was more melodrama than in soap operas.

I don't know if the True Crime magazines are still in publication, but they have been handily supplanted by these criminal "procedure" shows.

From: (Anonymous)
2010-04-16 06:36 pm (UTC)
At the risk of spoiling, have you seen the movie "The Man Who Wasn't There"?

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 06:52 pm (UTC)
Alas, no.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-04-16 06:55 pm (UTC)
I don't mind procedurals - we actually watch rather a lot of them - but I had to stop watching SVU because every other episode was about kids being sexually brutalized, and I couldn't stomach it anymore.

(Yeah, watching adults get sexually brutalized isn't much better, but that's the other part of why I stopped watching SVU. A show specifically about sex crimes got to be way, way too much for me.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 06:59 pm (UTC)
It was so melodramatic that I couldn't take it seriously.
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[User Picture]From: wikkidpixie
2010-04-16 07:02 pm (UTC)
HA! I got sucked into that episode. It was made epically more melodramatic by the FLAWLESS acting skills of Ms. Ann Margaret, no? That really was over the top, even by their standards.

It was also funny that 20+ year old blood on sheets was still a nice, vibrant red.

Edited at 2010-04-16 07:03 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yup. I wasn't going to mention that it was Ann Margaret - poor thing. I was planning on heading to bed early, but it was a trainwreck from which I could not look away.
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[User Picture]From: walkertxkitty
2010-04-16 07:09 pm (UTC)
I'm a detective story/true crime buff and have been since...well...since about the age you mentioned. I stole novels to read: Mike Hammer, Travis McGee, Spenser for Hire. Later on, I grafted my interest onto the television shows by the same names (except Travis McGee and I really wish they'd either make movies out of the books or start a series, he's fun) and found James Bond (books, then the movies; it's always that way with me).

Today I watch SVU, CI, CSI (all three variants), NCIS, and Criminal Minds. I've graduated in my reading habits to the autobiographies of pioneer profilers like John Douglas and Roy Hazelwood as well as a variety of forensics and case shows on Discovery and History channels.

A few years ago I took the big plunge: I started writing them and now I have a publisher who wants rights to the entire series when we're finished with it (I do have a partner in crime).

As far as I know, the true crime magazines no longer exist BUT there are quite a few books and periodicals out there which replaced them. I have books on just about every major serial killer you could mention and books either about or written by the profilers and law enforcement who nailed them. Forensics fascinates me; I actually cheered when we got our own crime scene unit for the county...and promptly badgered them to death with questions about procedures and protocols so I could document it correctly in my novels.

Unfortunately, knowing law enforcement and CSI folk has somewhat spoiled the television shows for me because...well...it doesn't work that way. The husband has said that if I point out just one more time that the procedure being used doesn't yield results like that or that instantly or that the procedure doesn't exist at all, he'll gag me with duct tape.

I went one worse and studied the forensics texts the boys recommended me from their courses. While I do not like grisly crime scenes enough to actually pursue the job (not to mention being unable to pass a physical), I know how to process one. I have those and the procedurals meant for writers like me too.

It makes me a menace to society when watching these things.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 08:03 pm (UTC)
I eventually lost interest in the genre, but with as little training as I have the holes and jumps in the logic are pretty entertaining.

And cool about your series.
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[User Picture]From: samcallahan
2010-04-16 07:40 pm (UTC)
That, and the television shows haven't progressed that much beyond Quincy. Jack Klugman has some nice quotes to the effect that they "Have all of the gore, and some nice looking lab equipment, but none of the class..."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 08:04 pm (UTC)
Pretty much!
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2010-04-16 07:51 pm (UTC)
They weren't porn, at least not how we generally think of porn.

I often feel conflicted and ashamed about my interest in crime stories, at least true crime because it feels immoral to watch/read stories about other people getting hurt or killed for entertainment. Lately I've been reading a lot about various serial killers. In any case, I recently read Ann Rule's book about her relationship with Ted Bundy and how she eventually and reluctantly came to the conclusion that her friend was a savage murderer. When she first knew Bundy, she was supporting herself and her family--barely--by writing for the various Detective/True Crime magazines. It was after her book on Bundy that her career as True Crime writer who wrote books took off.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 08:06 pm (UTC)
As a child they were a kind of horror story. I don't really like them now - the discomfort is too much for me.
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[User Picture]From: everypoembreaks
2010-04-16 07:52 pm (UTC)
That episode was epic. I have a theory that SVU has gotten increasingly ridiculous in the six years I've been watching but it might just be me getting older. It's unfortunately difficult for me to take that show seriously anymore - it is, at the high points, an after-school special.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 08:08 pm (UTC)
They are popular, but they are definitely not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, it was highly entertaining to see that crap.
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[User Picture]From: purpletempest
2010-04-16 08:26 pm (UTC)
I watch a lot of them. NCIS, the LA spin off, Criminal Minds, The Closer on TNT, Psych for a comedic version...Dunno why I like them so much, they are silly.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-16 08:48 pm (UTC)
You are not alone, as they are so very popular. I was just amused by the fact that they are filling that niche.
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2010-04-17 02:53 am (UTC)
I used to watch a lot of Law & Order (all of them), until I got to the point where I became so paranoid I was afraid to go outside on the off chance someone shot me in the head when I wasn't paying attention. Then I decided it was probably better for my sanity if I didn't watch them anymore.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-04-17 03:15 am (UTC)
I watch very little TV, and I've never been much for the procedural shtick. My father-in-law would be like you, though, if he watched them regularly - scared of everything.
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