I've spent many hours watching crime documentaries. Stories about serial killers, about homicides that were never solved.Before the advent of Netflix, I spent many hours watching them on YouTube as a teenager. I have always had an appetite for the mystery, and gore. I am a junkie in that sense. And therefore, I go to bed after each show and lie awake feeling the victims' pain, but also never quite fully able to make sense of the discomfort I feel about the tales I've seen. Perhaps it's because I crave a neat and tidy conclusion, but this is real life, not a Lifetime Christmas special.
In one such film that I watched, an alleged murderer's defence attorneys drew a table, listing all the facts that place the accused in a favourable and those that do the opposite.
What was interesting to me was how by the end of this scene, the attorneys had essentially thrown the entire table out. Instead spoke with great indignation about how the prosecution was out to spin a web of lies about their client.
These scene, I think, laid out bare, very clearly for me to see, a notion that was already half-formed in my mind. A trope recycled in virtually every crime series we've seen, the reason why we binge-watch Law and Order and CSI. It was never about the client's innocence. What it really is about, is who can tell a better story.
There is nothing novel about this realisation I had, per say . But it did get me thinking about the way things have unfolded over the years in many areas of my life.
As a people, we are not very interested in the facts. However, we all love a good story. This is as true in the children I teach as it is with my peers. So some people spin stories, for their families and neighbours, their colleagues and bosses, the "society" as we've come to name it.
It's never really ever been about guilt or innocence and perhaps, only tangentially about justice-- even in the lives of civilians who've never been arrested. It is about who can tell the best story, and in the best way.
So I think I've finally found the source of my own discomfort about crime stories. A question: Is this why we let frauds get away?