Police, the CSI effect, and torture in crime fiction

Brian Lindemuth has a thought-provoking post on police brutality, the CSI and Jack Bauer effects, and the use of torture in fiction over at Do Some Damage. Worth reading, and something to think about.

If stories matter, then we should take care with what we say with them. When is it propaganda? Movies and TV have a bigger reach, but books of course matter as well. Don’t they? If we demonize a race, class, or religion, if we write stories where the end is always justified by the means, however brutal, illegal, or inhumanly vile, what exactly are we trying to accomplish?

This is the mirror to the Dystopia argument in Science Fiction, which asks if we’ve gone from “Cautionary Tale” to “This is inevitable, and we shouldn’t even try. Science will just create killer dinosaurs / a pandemic virus / a black hole that annihilates the planet anyway.”

The pursuit of “justice” can be a sausage factory, as in Lush Life- a great book by Richard Price, who also wrote for The Wire, if you’re unfamiliar with his novels Clockers, The Wanderers, et al- but what do we accept? And has the 42 minute police procedural made us unrealistic in our expectations?

Brian makes some interesting points.