Week 1: Research and Narrative class

Mar 22, 2019

The first week was predominately research. I watched and took notes on a few episodes of Bones and The Thin Blue Line. I was surprised by how much information television episodes contain. Bones follows Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan and FBI agent Seeley Booth as they solve crimes and fall in love in the process. I chose to focus on Bones due to its reputation as an accurate representation of forensic science, or forensic anthropology. But over time, I noticed a number of inconsistencies, especially with the technology they use and the lab itself. They use holograms to predict what a victim would look like after decomposition. I talked to forensic scientists Ms. Maddela and Ms. Golden, who work at the forensic biologist department at the OMCE, have taught me that labs are very behind in their machines and technology. As I continue my project, I will focus on Bones and the way in which it is filmed. I also watched the documentary The Thin Blue Line, which interviewed Randall Adams, who was convicted of murdering a police officer and sent to life in prison. This documentary is legendary in its storytelling ability and reactions after the film was released. Randall Adams was able to appeal the conviction and was able to dismiss the case. This film will be a highlight throughout my project, as the film was vital in Adam’s release.

I was also able to sit in on  a narrative class hosted by reel works, in which students learn how to create their own films. During that particular class, I learned a lot about liability insurance and the amount of paperwork that goes into filming at certain locations. I also learned about casting and the particulars in choosing actors to play roles the director envisions. I will continue to attend certain classes that relate to my research.

6 Replies to “Week 1: Research and Narrative class”

  1. Samuel L. says:

    Wow, Mina! I’ve always been intrigued by what forensic scientists do in the field myself, so your project sounds really interesting. I absolutely agree with you that movies are often not consistent with what happens in the real field. I was wondering if you have any opinions about why that could be. Do you think that directors want to make movies and tv shows more interesting and appealing to viewers, therefore purposefully overestimating the technological capabilities of our era, or do you think that directors and writers simply don’t know any better and do not have professional forensic scientists look over the footage plans before they air?

    1. Mina S. says:

      Hi Sam! That is another part of my project I am hoping to research in detail. Of course, one of the main purposes of movies and tv shows is to entertain, but at what cost?

  2. Eva Y. says:

    Hi Mina! This sounds so interesting! Are you just going to focus on Bones, or are you going to study other crime shows? There is the new documentary on Netflix called “Abducted in Plain Site” which follows the investigation of two kidnappings. It might be interesting to compare how documentaries discuss forensics compared to drama channels because the documentary would also be interested in gaining views and audience reaction. The holograms in the television shows sound fascinating. Do you think that having such technology in real life will increase forensic researchers’ abilities to find criminals? On that note, do television shows hype the number of success rates because of the access to fake technology?

    1. Mina S. says:

      Hi Eva! I am also planning to look into CSI soon and possibly compare the two. I actually watched the documentary when it first came out and it is definitely a film I could look into, especially due to the content in relation to current events, which in turn attracts audience attention. If forensic scientists had this technology today, I am sure solving crimes would be easier. For your last question, I believe the reason television shows rarely end an episode with an unsuccessful case is due to the show format. Ending an episode without closure can change how the show is perceived and in turn how viewers think. So in conclusion, the access to fake technology is not ultimately responsible for the high success rate.

  3. Noha K. says:

    Hi Mina, this sounds so interesting! Do you think that filmmakers have a responsibility to portray forensic science completely accurately? After all, most film and TV is just entertainment. I would be interested to hear about your opinions on the ethics involved in taking liberties with science for the sake of entertainment.

    1. Mina S. says:

      Hi Noha, I believe that although entertainment is a major component in film and TV, accuracy should be taken into consideration, at the very least. In my project, I am hoping to understand how it affects audiences. After I am done gathering all the information throughout the next months, I hope to elaborate and maybe even change my opinion on the subject.

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