Esyllt Sears wonders whether the time has come for popular culture to close the case file on true crime.
The hairdressers’ is the only place I have time, or indeed find the inclination to read glossy women’s lifestyle magazines anymore. But for two sweet hours I get to daydream about owning a Fendi baguette bag, following a 40 minute facial routine and finding myself after-partying with Paul Mescal and Miley Cyrus.
Suffice to say I don’t get much out of this and it’s really nothing more than an exercise in self-loathing as I accept that I have truly failed to live up to what society deems a success.
The other day however, as I allowed a trained professional to tackle six months of protein filament neglect, I read something that compelled me to truly consider my actions over the past 30-odd years.
In and amongst the vacuousness of celebrity gossip was an advertisement, for a crime magazine called…CRIME. The red and white colour scheme, complete with sensationalised headings and quotes felt oddly familiar. Surely not. Was this Hello! but for homicide? I noticed that you could even win a crime-related prize. A VIP trip to Crimecon which, according to its website is the “ultimate true crime weekend with over 50 hours of true crime content…made immersive, engaging and accessible”.
I can only imagine that the VIP element involves unlimited hot drinks and a lanyard.
Joking aside, this felt like a huge part of a problem that has been highlighted in the news over the past couple of weeks. During the recent search for Nicola Bulley in Lancashire I’ve glanced at headlines calling out the public frenzy and social media speculation around her disappearance, but nothing more. Just glanced. Probably because I didn’t want to accept that I’m also complicit.
Since I can remember, I have devoured crime dramas and novels; possibly fuelled by the fact that I come from a long line of policemen, leading me to consider joining the police myself at one point. My dad is a crime writer. I live near Agatha Christie’s Welsh residence in the Vale of Glamorgan, which I will not stop banging on about. And I know I’m not alone in having been carried on the true crime wave of the past ten years which taps into that age old human condition of being morbidly curious. But maybe it’s finally reached saturation and we will look back at this period in popular culture like we now look back at the problematic diet programmes of the early 00s. Anyone remember Supersize vs Superskinny and…Supersize vs Superskinny Kids?
Much has been made recently of the merits of such an obsession. With criminal cases, such as those relating to the Making a Murderer series and the Serial podcast being positively influenced. But are these rare occurrences enough to justify dragging friends and family of crime victims through the media mill? As ever, I don’t really know.
Maybe nothing about this piece will make you or me think anymore about whether the landscape of crime in popular culture needs to change, but maybe, just maybe our age old human condition of being empathetic and considerate of others will actually prevail.