Crime and Media in Contemporary France

Crime and Media in Contemporary France

Deborah Streifford Reisinger
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Purdue University Press
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  • Book Info
    Crime and Media in Contemporary France
    Book Description:

    This book examines contemporary French society's relationship with violence in an era of increased media dominance.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-026-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chapter One Crime and Sensation in Contemporary France
    (pp. 1-20)

    The late 1980s and early 1990s were an era of heightened crime awareness in France, a precursor for the hyper-focus on security anddélinquancethat would characterize the turn of the century. With the introduction of the word “serial killer” into the French language, the emerging popularity of “reality TV,” and an increasingly pervasive media discourse focused on public insecurity, French society consumed crime as fast as the media could reproduce it. While stemming in part from American cultural capitalism, French society has nonetheless incorporated and followed similar trends in the perception and representation of crime. Yet, as Tricia Rose...

  5. Chapter Two Mediating Crime
    (pp. 21-39)

    As an account of a serial killer, the Paulinaffairerepresents a relatively new addition to contemporary French criminality. The term “serial killer” first appeared in France in 1980, and although the term “tueur en série” is now part of the French language, its entrance into French printed discourse as an English word makes its origins unmistakable. Current articles on serial killing in French interchange the two terms, and while this shift reflects the French government’s stricter regulations on the use of English terms, I believe that this change also points to an integration of the concept into French culture...

  6. Chapter Three Viewing Crime
    (pp. 40-64)

    From the earliest cinematic endeavors, crime has figured predominantly in French film, andfaits divershave been frequently the subject of cinematic productions. While this recreation of historical events has been a consistently popular theme in film, adaptations of sensationalfaits diversrepresent an increasingly significant body of work. The American film industry is particularly replete with examples, many of which have become popular in France. John McNaughton’sHenry: Portrait of a Serial Killer(1987, based on Henry Lee Lucas), Jonathan Demme’sSilence of the Lambs(1991, based on Edgar Gein), Eric Till’sTo Catch a Killer(1992, based on...

  7. Chapter Four Sensation and Censorship
    (pp. 65-83)

    In February of 1988, wanted posters publicizing four pictures of “the crazed killer” (“le tueur fou”) were plastered throughout Parisian metro stations, announcing the police’s progress in putting a face to the man who had murdered a policeman in Toulon and at least two civilians near Annecy. Almost immediately following the issuance of the wanted poster, the killer was identified, and one month later, Roberto Succo was arrested near Venice and placed in a high-security state prison. Within less than 24 hours of his capture, however, Succo escaped from his cell, climbing to the roof of the prison to capture...

  8. Chapter Five Performing Murder
    (pp. 84-124)

    Koltès began writing his play in 1988, just prior to Succo’s suicide. As I have shown, Koltès’s interest in Succo, fueled by the media’s images of the killer, has been consistently cited in reference to the play, encrusting it with layers of meaning. Used by both proponents and opponents of the play to defend their opinions ofRoberto Zucco’s representational validity, Koltès’s interest in the killer represents a fluid signifier that can be manipulated by opposing parties. Yet as Pascale Froment suggests, this information is completely insignificant relative to the text. She explains that “Koltès knew few details. Four photos...

  9. Chapter Six Rewriting History
    (pp. 125-138)

    Throughout this project, I have sought to underline how the contemporaryfait diversfunctions as an important site of struggle for the control of social meaning. As evidenced by the Paulin and Succoaffairesof the 1980s, media, politicians, and law enforcement vie with each other to influence public sentiment about crime,insécurité, and the Other. In these representations of the crime story, dominant institutions encrust thefait diverswith their particular ideologies, often sensationalizing the crime story to generate public outrage and influence public policy about controversial issues such as immigration laws and the death penalty. For these reasons,...

  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 139-148)
  11. Index
    (pp. 149-153)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 154-154)