The Philosophy of TV Noir

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Steven Sanders, Aeon J. Skoble
University Press of Kentucky, 2008 - Performing Arts - 272 pages
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Film noir reflects the fatalistic themes and visual style of hard-boiled novelists and many émigré filmmakers in 1940s and 1950s America, emphasizing crime, alienation, and moral ambiguity. In The Philosophy of TV Noir, Steven M. Sanders and Aeon J. Skoble argue that the legacy of film noir classics such as The Maltese Falcon, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Big Sleep is also found in episodic television from the mid-1950s to the present. In this first-of-its-kind collection, contributors from philosophy, film studies, and literature raise fundamental questions about the human predicament, giving this unique volume its moral resonance and demonstrating why television noir deserves our attention. The introduction traces the development of TV noir and provides an overview and evaluation of the book’s thirteen essays, each of which discusses an exemplary TV noir series. Realism, relativism, and integrity are discussed in essays on Dragnet, Naked City, The Fugitive, and Secret Agent. Existentialist themes of authenticity, nihilism, and the search for life’s meaning are addressed in essays on Miami Vice, The Sopranos, Carnivale, and 24. The methods of crime scene investigation in The X-Files and CSI are examined, followed by an exploration of autonomy, selfhood, and interpretation in The Prisoner, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Millennium. With this focus on the philosophical dimensions of crime, espionage, and science fiction series, The Philosophy of TV Noir draws out the full implications of film noir and establishes TV noir as an art form in its own right.
 

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Page 52 - ... defined. It is primarily a term for the socially elaborated segment of human behavior in any culture; and abnormality, a term for the segment that that particular civilization does not use. The very eyes with which we see the problem are conditioned by the long traditional habits of our own society. It is a point that has been made more often in relation to ethics than in relation to psychiatry. We do not any longer make the mistake of deriving the morality of our locality and decade directly...
Page 52 - Every society, beginning with some slight inclination in one direction or another, carries its preference farther and farther, integrating itself more and more completely upon its chosen basis, and discarding those types of behavior that are uncongenial.

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