I've come to the half-way point of the Murder, She Blogged series, and half way through my time guest blogging here at Bitch, so I just wanted to take a brief pause to address the question: Why detectives?
Tropes vs. Women is a six-part video series by Feminist Frequency that explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.
The Mystical Pregnancy is a trope writers use to create drama and terror by invading, violating and exploiting women's reproductive capabilities. Often these female characters have their ovaries harvested by aliens or serve as human incubators for demon spawn. Sometimes they are carrying the Messiah and other times Satan himself.
As well as showcasing the quintessential Spinster Detective, the Miss Marple adaptations have plenty to say about England's shifting class structures in the decades after World War II and women's changing roles. It's all played out in microcosm in the fictional village of St Mary Mead.
From the village bobby on his bicycle to elaborate games of cops and robbers in mid-20th century America, detective fiction often harks back to the past. From a feminist perspective, this is a can of worms.
Presenting an unthreatening facade to the world, older women detectives usually conceal razor-sharp investigative skills and intelligence. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple is one of the classic examples of these subversive characters.
AMC's The Killing, which recently concluded its first season and has been renewed for a second, is as close to Twin Peaks as 21st century television gets. Set in Seattle, homicide detective Sarah Linden investigates the murder of a teenage girl. That's it - a single murder investigation carried out over 13 hours of television, filled with red herrings, unfolding motives and dead ends. It introduces us to a strong, career-driven female detective. And the critics (to begin with) loved it: Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden has just been nominated for an Emmy. Amid its other nominations, we have director Patty Jenkins, the only woman contender for outstanding director of a drama series.
But for all this, it pales in comparison to the Danish series it is closely based on, Forbrydelsen (The Crime). The star of the show, Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl), is one of the most interesting detective characters for years, female or male, and with all due respect to Enos and Linden, Lund is in a league of her own.
Video editor Tijana Mamula has watched all ten seasons of Friends (and not in rerun-form over the course of years). Why? The gay jokes. The many, many gay jokes. After a observing drawn-out, homophobic conversation between Joey and Ross, Mamula began noticing the underlying homophobia of the show constantly. Surprised to find no one had made a project from it already, she set to work on an intense video endeavor. Mamula wanted to go beyond showcasing the show's homophobic jokes. "The whole point of this project is to show the very extent to which homophobia pervades the show, and how it changes over the years. It only makes sense to do this if you can give an idea of the scope of the issue."
There is, in fact, ninety minutes'—a whole movie!—worth of homophobic jokes in Friends, as she found. But with some guidelines, and editing with a sitcom-narrative in mind, Mamula cut it down to forty-five. The result was Homophobic Friends.