Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Hardboiled politics

Date: 20 Jul 2003


Re your response to my earlier post below:

> I seem to have touched a nerve here, but that wasn't
> my intention. Being a
> leftist is not a pejorative term for me and I wasn't
> saying that the writers
> themselves are necessarily leftists. I was merely
> saying that some forms of
> a police procedural novel are in many ways opposed
> to heroic individualism
> of the hardboiled genre and I find that extremely
> interesting.

It's not a question of whether or not being "leftist" is pejorative. There are some procedural writers who ARE leftist. I mentioned the Sjowall/Wahloo books in my earlier post. Not only are the Beck novels leftist in orientation, they are among the best cop novels ever written.

However, in their political orientation, they are not representative of the police procedural sub-genre as a whole. They used the form, a piece of fiction that presents law enforcement with realism (or at least the appearance of realism), to subliminally argue for a particular political viewpoint, but that viewpoint is not the prevalent one in the procedural sub-genre.

My point wasn't that I was insulted at being labeled a
"leftist." My point was that to interpret the cop story as essentially leftist was to misread the vast majority of cop stories. I don't necessarily buy the contention that EVERYTHING is political, even the eschewing of politics, but to the extent that that viewpoint is correct, and to the extent that the police procedural is political at all, then it's fundamentally conservative. And frankly, that seems obvious on its face.

And your interpretation of the police procedural as being a form that is discourages the depiction of individual heroism is just as flawed. Not only are there hundreds of examples from fiction that prove exactly the opposite, there are hundreds of examples from real life. The cops in a well-done police procedural are "regular guys" (or, increasingly, gals) who, despite their being regular guys, are capable of great heroism. I think it's the hint that regular guys ARE capable of individual heroism is part of what makes the procedural a popular form.


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