Drop Dead Gorgeous

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Oktober 2011



In amerikanischen Fernsehserien wie »CSI« oder »Six Feet Under« sind Tote nicht mehr nur Ausgangspunkt für Ermittlungen - der Tote selbst wird zum Untersuchungsobjekt, Fokussierungen auf tote Körper, etwa bei rechtsmedizinischen Untersuchungen, bestimmen die Szenerie. Tina Weber setzt sich mit diesen neuen filmischen Inszenierungsformen auseinander und fragt, welche gesellschaftlichen Symptomatiken im Umgang mit dem Tod sich darin zeigen.



Part 1-Introduction


1 Theory 20
1.1. Image, death and discourse20
1.2. Historical survey of depictions of corpses 28
1.3. Representation of corpses in TV shows from 1950-200035
1.4. New representations of corpses in TV shows from 2000-201039
1.5. New sophisticated death representations44

2 Methodology 50
2.1. Analysis of TV shows52
2.2. Pictorial Analysis53
2.3. Film Analysis61
2.4. Interviews64
2.5. Statistic research65
2.6. "Genre"66
Part 2-Analysis: What is shown and how?

3 Pictorial Analysis: Pretty corpses in the pathology73
3.1. Introduction73
3.2. New TV shows with new representations of death75
3.2.1. Documentary: North Mission Road and Family Plots76
3.2.2. Black comedy and drama: Six Feet Under 81
3.2.3. Crime: CSI, Crossing Jordan, Bones, NCIS, and Castle87
3.2.4. Fantasy comedy: Dead like me and Pushing Daisies99
3.2.5. Fantasy drama: Tru Calling, Heroes, and Dexter102
3.3. Summary 110

4 Film Analysis: Disgusting autopsies in the pathology 113
4.1. Media Aesthetics115
4.2. Film Analysis Autopsy 119
4.3. Film Analysis CSI 128
4.4. Comparison and Evaluation of the Representation Codes134
4.5. Summary138

Part 3-Field Research: What is not shown and why?

5 New representations and new taboos143
5.1. Taboo and death144
5.2. General representation restrictions150
5.3. Specific representation taboos regarding death160
5.4. Excursus on hospital autopsies168
5.5. Conclusion on new representations and new taboos171

6 Field research: The Representation of Corpses under Constraints 173
6.1. Officials: The LA County Coroner TV show North Mission Road174
6.1.1. Pictorial analysis of the representation of an autopsy175
6.1.2. Interview with the medical examiner participant179
6.2. Producer: Interviews with the filmmaker184
6.2.1. Money, time and censorship187
6.2.2. Race, Age, Gender 202
6.2.3. Working on realism 204
6.3. Recipients: The public response to the new TV shows210
6.3.1. The "CSI Effect" in the juristic discourse210
6.3.2. The "CSI Effect" in the humanistic discourse212
6.4. Summary222

Part 4-Conclusion

7 Conclusion225
7.1. Visual knowledge and communicative genre229
7.1.1. Changing genres231
7.1.2. Changing body images234
7.2. New Representations of Death in other Audio-Visual Media243

Works cited247


Tina Weber, Dr. phil., ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Soziologie der Technischen Universität Berlin.


5 New representations and new taboos (S. 143-144)

In the previous chapter I closely examined the different aesthetic techniques used by the media for the representation of corpses in a documentary TV show and in a fictional TV show. The most striking difference in the documentary was a representation consisting of (1) examiners moving (2) an old decedent (3) on an untidy table.

In contrast, hardly any elderly decedents, untidy tables, or bodies in motion were observed in the fictional genre. In this chapter I will extend the examination and concentrate on these three particular findings. I will show that these specific constraints regarding the body’s corporality, including its condition and position, are actual manifestations of taboos, and contrast them with general representation restrictions such as race and gender. These taboos serve to protect the classical Western image of the silent sleeping beauty from any harm.

To scrutinise this hypothesis, I will again compare a nonfictional TV show with a fictional TV show. I therefore selected the black comedy/ drama Six Feet Under and the documentary soap Family Plots. As in the previous chapter the authentic documentary TV show serves as a contrast for the fictional TV show. I selected these TV shows because of their thematic similarities; both are about a funeral parlour. Yet, the docu-soap Family Plots seeks to reflect the daily routine of Poway Bernardo Mortuary in San Diego while Six Feet Under presents a fictional funeral parlour in Los Angeles.

To validate my findings, I will provide statistical research results about the TV shows. These results will provide all the necessary information about the distribution of those representation restrictions. The selection of the pictures shown in this chapter serves, however, only to exemplify the results. Before I will present these results I want to introduce the research backg
round regarding death and taboo. Afterwards I will disclose first general representation restrictions in these TV shows and then the specific representation taboos regarding the dead body as mentioned above. I will finish the chapter with an excursus on hospital autopsies and the conclusion drawn from the results.

5.1. Taboo and death

In 1955, Geoffrey Gorer published the article “Pornography of Death” in which he argued that contemporary society was suppressing death as a topic in the manner of the Victorians and sexuality. According to Gorer the topic of death has been tabooed and, “[…] can be vented only in fantasy ‘charged with pleasurable guilt or guilty pleasure’–the distinctive mark of pornography. If we make death unmentionable in polite society–‘not before the children’–we almost ensure the continuation of the ‘horror comics’” (Gorer, 1955, p. 175).

Gorer, not without criticism, referred to publications such as horror comics in order to display that a taboo topic does not simply disappear. According to him, the taboo subject re-appears again as pornography charged with that pleasurable guilt. Since the beginning of the 21st century, representations of dead bodies in the pathology department have found their way into the media and, therefore, into the public discourse. During prime time, these representations became ordinary media elements, along with others. Is death still a taboo then?
EAN: 9783593412153
Untertitel: Representations of Corpses in American TV Shows. zahlreiche Farbabbildungen. Sprache: Englisch. Dateigröße in MByte: 31.
Verlag: Campus Verlag
Erscheinungsdatum: Oktober 2011
Seitenanzahl: 267 Seiten
Format: pdf eBook
Kopierschutz: Wasserzeichen
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