The Classic Mystery Storyline

I don’t know about you, but I love mysteries. Maybe it’s my inner boxcar kid or my desire to be Sherlock Holmes/Nancy Drew, but ever since I was a little kid, reading mystery stories, watching suspenseful films, and using my wild imagination, have always been my favorite pastimes to get that chilling thrill. For me, it started off with the cheesy Scooby-Doo-esque reads you’d pick up in elementary school, with plotlines of kidnappings and killings, leading us through a web of adventures to only find out that there was no kidnapping or killing at all. Then it moved up a notch into horror territory. Off-the-wall, dramatized stories of monsters looking to wreak havoc on the innocent. Now, I’m a faithful crime-tv watcher. It has the same elements found in the mysteries of my previous years, but a toned-down nature that is both heart-wrenching and relatable.

Anyway, as I delved into some great Lifetime movies this weekend, mystery and drama-filled of course, I got to thinking about the classic mystery storyline that has been recycled year in and year out since the beginning of time. There’s always these elements that make a mystery a mystery, and even though we know what will probably happen (granted, there are some plot twists), we can’t stop watching them because they’re so enticing!

What makes up the classic mystery storyline? What are its potions that make it the perfect recipe for suspense and awe? Well, let’s try and figure this out.

Step 1: Make Life Seem as Perfect as Can Be

Do you ever notice that in mystery plots, its almost always a cookie-cutter, all-is-well ambiance to start it off? The main characters are going about their day-to-day activities in blind contentment. Skipping, jogging, cooking, laughing..basically life is great, and they’re about to get a rude awakening and everybody knows it.

Step 2: The “Dun Dun Duuuuun” Moment

It happens. The murder, kidnapping, missing-person, monster, stalker, killer, whoever and whatever it is, occurs. It makes us gasp. It makes our wheels get to turning in our heads. It is the moment whether you decide to commit to this plotline and invest your emotions or drop it and go do something happy with your life.  If it’s a good “dun dun duuuun” moment, you will commit.

Step 3: The Mess and Stress Stage

All the action a.k.a the mess goes down. The adventure of figuring out who did what, why they did it, and what’s going to happen next, becomes the main objective. And, of course, there’s tons of stress amongst the characters, which in turn, stresses the reader/viewer out (me).

Step 4: The Gasp…”I would’ve Gotten Away With It If It Weren’t For You Darn Kids…” Stage

We finally come to put all of the pieces of the mystery together and find out who did it and for what reason. By far the best stage, but if it is not done right, things could go very wrong and all of that hard work could be worthless.

Every mystery follows this pattern. Some worse and some better than others. Although, I love a good mystery with this classic storyline, I can’t help but desire a little change and a real shock factor within the genre. The repetition of this storyline sometimes makes the exciting genre…yawn-worthy. I urge those mystery-lovers and creators out there to break out of the box that has been established for so long. Surprise us, shock us, make us scream!



Wait, Shouldn’t I Hate This…

It’s Friday and classes are over for the week. In hopes of unwinding, I turn on Pandora to inhale a little of today’s latest jams. Pandora is put on because I can’t think of what I specifically want to here, there’s no rhyme or reason to my choices, just something to spark my interest and get me dancing and bobbing my head. On comes Usher – I Don’t Mind. Now, if you didn’t know, this song follows the mindset of the R&B singer as he serenades to possible strippers, communicating how he doesn’t mind of their profession. Admirable in a sense, but the delivery with lines that target that the women are bad examples to society, that his only acceptance of them is that they will be his at home, and his only real connection to these women being their physical features, makes the message questionable and alarming. But…for some reason… I couldn’t resist dancing and bobbing my head!

Why is this? I find this happens a lot, whether it be with questionable songs with great beats, or films and television shows littered with misogynistic characters but great story lines. There’s something that makes these works of art that we should hate, in regards to content, popular and likable. The Usher song is a great example of using an awesome beat and sweet, serenading voice, in hopes of disguising such a questionable message. Are all of the popular content that carry these sour lessons on being a human being, disguised really well with other fancy aspects in order to distract viewers and listeners from the reality of what is going on and being said?

I think it is important to note that, with complex creations like films or music, not everything is black and white. There has to be some things we hate, some things we love, and some things we’re kind of unsure of, in the story line so that a complexity is there for audiences to evaluate and critique. It is questionable, however, if these complexities are put into these creations intentionally or naturally? Are these beliefs, words, messages, true to the creator’s reality and the audience they want to capture, or was it intentionally made in hopes of arousing some controversy on possible issues?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to a lot of these questions, and if I could interview Usher right now I would. A lot of toxic messages are out in entertainment media, and it is important to be mindful of whether its consumption is changing our ideals on what is right or wrong. However, I do know the struggle. It’s incredibly confusing when you hear a song and don’t support what’s being said, but continue to dance wildly along because it’s just too damn catchy to avoid enjoying yourself over.