Thursday, October 11, 2018

Veronica Mars, #Metoo, and the future of crime fiction

Like any Veronica Mars fan, I am giddy about the show's return. So giddy, in fact, that I will be getting a Hulu subscription (exactly what the Hulu gurus intended) so I can watch it when it drops. The show's creator, Rob Thomas, has said in interviews that the show will return to its gritty, neo-noir roots, unlike the film which was a fanservice partly funded through its Kickstarter campaign.

Veronica Mars is the intrepid female detective with an unwavering sense of justice. She is a sexual assault survivor and has fought off many attempts against her life. She confronts corrupt cops and shady politicians, and richy richy types who literally try to get away with murder. And she brings them all down with tenacity, wit, and fortitude. We're living in dark times, folks, and women, in particular, are looking for justice. Veronica Mars is one such character to see us through.

The majority of Americans, particularly women, are going to be looking to storytelling for some type of catharsis. Dystopia is fun escapism when times are good, but just try stomaching an episode of Black Mirror (not San Junipero) when it all feels too plausible. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, what will emerge from the #Metoo movement and Trump presidency is a new crop of fictional female warriors. Vigilantes. Hardened private investigators. Unflinching journalists. All with one goal--to expose injustice, ruthlessness, and inequality.

What domestic suspense and psychological thrillers provide its mostly female readership are damaged women trying to hide or outrun their trauma from spouses, neighbors, and friends. It's typically centered around a theme of a crumbling facade that shatters a precious complacency. But what we're going to see are characters whose trauma is the momentum for their narrative. They are not ashamed of their past, but empowered by it. Exposure is the goal. They want to bring everything into the light, uncovering the villain, revealing misdeeds, and doling out punishment accordingly. And expect this new wave of crime fiction to feature women in all aspects of characterization. They'll be the sheriffs, the investigators, the corrupt politicians, and the killers.

And it won't be the work of white authors with white women that will lead the way. There will be a revolution in hardboiled crime fiction featuring women across the spectrum of ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and class. It has already gotten started. My current favorite is the new series by Kristen Lepionka featuring badass Roxane Weary, a hardened bisexual PI with a wee bit of a drinking problem.

And I'm here for it. I'm here for all of it.

Let's go, ladies.


Mary Fan said...

Great post!! I have mixed feelings about how much women are abused in thrillers/crime fiction, but I do agree that it's important not to be ashamed or bury it. And revenge narratives are so, so satisfying... Also have mixed feelings about Veronica Mars being rebooted (will it be the same if there isn't the teen soap element???), but hey, I already have hulu, so might as well see how it goes...

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Rob Thomas said it's supposed to be closer to the original in terms of tone and storyline than the we'll see.

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