Film Noir: a Genre Built on Stereotypes

In recent years, Film Noir has been a source of inspiration for a broad range of media. In the 40s and 50s, this was a skewed way of looking at culture at the time, which, in part, sprang from cliche-stuffed pulp fiction. These days, it’s a way of throwing a very stylised set of restrictions at a media, and possibly even retrojecting it into the era. Nevertheless, it remains very popular. For example, films like LA Confidential, Sin City and The Spirit all borrow heavily from the genre.

Sin City was one big homage to the genre

Hell, even The Incredibles takes cues from the genre. A lot of the early action happens at night. There are stake-outs, police radios, mysterious ‘dames’, over-the-hill government types, a lot of the action happens in alleyways, yada, yada, yada.

The Incredibles definitely had shades of noir

This may help with the whole Art Deco old-fashioned thing they have going on, but the reality is, the ‘modern’ Incredibles live in a relatively current world. Sure, one where tablets seem futuristic, but not so far into the past that the 40s and 50s would be a relevant time period for Elastigirl or Incrediboy.

In games as well, noir has seen a resurgence. Fair enough, ‘LA Noire’ was always going to be a straight homage to the genre, but even the Fallout series has characters like ‘The Lonesome Drifter’, ‘The Mysterious Stranger’, any number of hookers-with-hearts-of-gold, and so on. The series was built on the premise that the Fallout universe had diverged from ours in the 50s, and the music (and that Art Deco style), among other things, never changed.

A still from the newly announced Fallout 4

Film Noir is absolutely still having a big impact on popular culture. Perhaps this is thanks to its simplicity. Yes, the tropes been been overused to the point they have been cliches. But now that is helpful. When we come across a character called ‘The Lonesome Drifter’, we know what to expect. So when those expectations are subverted, things get interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s