Monday, January 3, 2011

How To Make It In America

What happens when your continued pursuit of the American Dream means you have to do something you shouldn't?  What happens when you have to pick up a gun or double cross someone just to have a chance of getting what you want in the world?  These are some of the questions that make up the noir genre.  In the end, at the heart of every noir story is someone who wants something and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

However what makes noir so compelling to me isn't the actual plots of the stories.  It's the characters that make up the worlds these stories take place in.
These are characters that exist in a world in which there is no defined line between right and wrong and everything is just another shade of grey.  These are the criminals who are constantly struggling to walk a straight line and the cops who cross the line to get things done.  The hard-boiled, burned-out detective.  The femme fatale. In short, these are the deeply flawed people of our society.

To many people these character archetypes will seem like cliches and they are to a certain extent.  But what does that fact say about noir as a genre?  Some people say that it's dead.  I disagree.  I believe that it has instead become so integrated into pop culture through movies and books that it's difficult to distinguish what is and isn't noir anymore.  And that is what this section is all about really.  It's about the effects that noir has had upon us and what has happened to it in the past and what may happen in the future.


  1. Noir isn't really dead. It is however, a genre that refers to a bygone era. Are you aware that there is a Noir version of Spiderman? It has its own comic series. Also, L.A. Noir is an upcoming game (by Rockstar, makers of GTA and Red Dead) set entirely in the Noir genre. Just a heads up.

  2. As someone who took a course specifically on Film Noir last semester, I'm really interested to see your future posts. I think it would be interesting if you talked about how the themes addressed in Noir (like the moral relativity you mentioned) are relevant to contemporary times.