Hollywood's Crime Novel -or- True Crime

Dreamer: John, 29, American

I have been a police officer for 7 years. I have had this dream several times. Very vivid! I have pulled up to a scene to help another officer on a traffic stop. The weather is cold and there is snow on the ground. I am helping the officer and then go back to my patrol car to get something. The driver of the car gets out and kills the other officer. He is lying bloody in the snow. I get my shotgun and shoot the bad guy. He runs down into the ditch and there is icy water around. He shoots at me. I shoot back, and he falls down. I see a lot of blood in the snow. The bad guy gets up and I keep shooting him. I hit him with each shot and continue to reload my shot gun, and pump rounds into him. He keeps getting up, and I keep shooting him. I can see that I'm getting low on bullets. Suddenly there are more bad guys. I keep shooting at him. I notice that I have only one bullet left and wake up. Please email your interpretation. Thank you.

Mr. Hagen's Reply: Crime Novel Investigation or Calling for Back-up

America's Most Wanted -or- The Crime Novel

Crime provides one of the great tropes of narrative, with the characters, motives, actions, judgment and punishment providing the backdrop for crime's plot. It has been argued that Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 'Crime and Punishment" is the greatest of crime fictions. Popular TV shows such as America's Most Wanted hosted by John Walsh (see video news segment), provide an arena where the public can help track down suspected criminals. Modern society is vitally concerned with curbing crime. The protection of the community against the violence of abnormal and habitual offenders is a key role of the police force.

Ethnoscenology of American Crime

The study of Western Narratives as cultural performances researches the influence of different cultures on the organization of human performance, practices and behaviours. Ethnoscenology attempts to integrate the ideas of Gaze, Spectacle and Performance. In your dream your Gaze becomes shaped by the cognitive (i.e. The Crime Scene), the emotional (Affective Realism), the pleasure in acting (Hard Boiled), the gratuitousness of the action (Gun Crazy) and performance criticism (Calling for Back-up).

The Crime Scene

A scenario serves as the pretext for a performance and provides mental structure for the plot's outlines to unfold. This dramatic structure allows for the visualization of social situations. In crime scenes the actors and audience's gaze, thoughts and feelings become organized by life and death situations they enter into. We can identify or feel apathy (as bystanders often do) in such situations. Popular TV shows such as the CSI franchise (see TV clip) have captivated audiences showing the power of this form of drama.

Affective Realism

Realism is a literary and visual arts (such as TV or Film) technique which attempts to accurately present everyday life of social reality. Affective realism is the mixture of thought and emotional response to social situations. To use a metaphor it adds colour (emotion) to the social environment one has entered and is interacting in. The fact that it is cold outside is therefore probably no coincidence, instead it stands in as a metaphor for the emotional climate you feel you live and work in. As well white usually is a sign of innocence and is contrasted in your dream by the red blood.

The Hard Boiled Patrolman

The patrolman is a communal symbol and the principal front-line guardian of the public. The writings of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler portrayed the 'hard-boiled" detective and featured his lone but professional search for truth and justice. Sean Connery in the film "The Untouchables" (see video trailer) is an illustration of this type of police character who dies in the line of duty.

Gun Crazy or True Crime

The Noir style film Gun Crazy was an early variant of Bonnie and Clyde (see movie trailer clip). The portrayal of criminal and sexual psychopathology is the cornerstone of the film. 'There are no excuses for the gun craziness...it's just crazy.' The real life killers Manson, Speck, Bundy and Dahlmer (see video clips) attest to this psychopathology and true crime.

Calling for Back-up

The dramatic analysis of a dream sees the narrative as a play meant to be performed. Humans take up roles in their own life-story productions, which then become open to criticism in terms of their performance. Popular cultural pressures, frequently expressed in mass media dramas, shape individual and collective productions in relation to the cultural milieu of a performance.

In your dream it is noteworthy that you went back to your patrol car. I believe that Police procedure would instruct you first to call for back-up in a situation of clear and present danger?Society needs to acquire more knowledge about an individuals feelings of powerlessness and helplessness as revealed through nightmares. Your dream is most likely an example of a collective occupational nightmare of many police officers. Your worst nightmare has come true: being killed in the line of duty.

Hope these thoughts are of help and provide some insight,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.