But here’s a short reminder of the current state of affairs:
- "Populist" politicians tricking and bullying their way into power
- Shadowy billionaires and rogue states manipulating election results
- Corrupt institutions from Hollywood to the Vatican covering up sexual misdemeanours
- Previously respected, even loved, public figures outed as abusers
- News becoming another commodity, with consumers buying the "truth" that suits them
- New levels of substance abuse and knock-on gang violence
- The illegal supply of drugs established as an international big business
- Powerful corporations tracking and manipulating our behaviour
- And, in the background, the steady destruction of the environment in the name of profit
Although we may want to comment on these issues, fitting them into fiction is a (big) challenge.
But they do have things in common which might give us a clue.
Many of them have a perverse aspect, in which something positive (the need for security and comfort, for instance) turns into its opposite (undermining conditions for all life on the planet).
- The careers of dictators and firebrand politicians often end in disaster
- People who vote for populists end up with leaders who act against their interests
- Sexual abusers are dicing with shame and exposure, maybe even willing it on
Q: What factor unites these things?
A: A certain perverse, twisted, self-destructive quality
It's worth remembering that no matter how large the issue, we can still locate the way in which they play out in a human level - where individual hopes, dreams, and relationships are at stake.
But how can writers rise to the challenge of depicting these things?
One route is the heightened comedy of satire - a genre that requires furious energy, originality, and the pin-point targeting of a very contemporary issue.
Another is horror. With some creative thinking, the figures that litter the contemporary world could be transmuted into memorable movie monsters.
But what if you want to write something that isn’t comedic, and stays closer to our notions of realism than horror?
There's another genre that can help here.
One whose tropes and conventions provide a tool-box of plots, characters and situations to deal creatively with our self-destructive tendencies.
This genre is Neo Noir.
Audiences tend to read Neo Noirs as “elevated thrillers”.
But they respond to the special kind of tension and extremity in stories like BREAKING BAD, MEMENTO, NIGHTCRAWLER, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, CHINATOWN, THE CONVERSATION, and TAXI DRIVER.
Neo Noir protagonists don’t really need antagonists – they do the job so well themselves.
And divided psyches provide great potential for drama.
You can learn much more about Neo Noir at our workshop on March 23.
In the workshop, we'll:
- Detail the many powerful themes and ideas the genre can address.
- Use fun and interesting exercises to help you to create the elements of your own Neo-Noir story.
- Demonstrate ideas with carefully chosen film clips
You'll end the process with a basic outline for your own Neo Noir story.
And afterwards you can continue to learn and share information about the genre in a Facebook group.
For more information and to book, click here.