May 31st 2021
The landscape of true crime is littered with content that has aged beyond poorly, from properties where it turns out the tale was incorrectly told — or stories that, by our June of 2021 eyes, are told in an especially cringeworthy way. A lot of the time, we’ve dealt with this by saying “well, we know better now,” and move on.
Two things I read in recent days suggest that moving on might not be the only way to grapple with this stuff: author Joyce Maynard’s clear-eyed callouts of the high-profile people who criticized her for chronicling her alleged abuse by J.D. Salinger, and travel publication Atlas Obscura’s decision to completely review how it’s approached destinations and regional history.
Is true crime in for a similar reckoning, especially in the light of social justice and the increased suspicion of copaganda? Honestly, folks, I don’t know: Dan Abrams seems set on bringing Live PD back, and Ashley Flowers’s ultimate cop-fan pod Crime Junkie remains atop the charts.
But let’s pretend we live in a world where Oxygen starts thinking like Atlas Obscura, and where the narratives presented by police are scrutinized as closely as the narrative of an 18-year-old wooed by a 53-year-old famous author. In that world, what classic true-crime properties and narratives would you like a new, fresh take on, with an informed, 2021 perspective?
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