06 December 2014
Today’s Phones are Ruining Crime Fiction!
(Yes, this post actually gets around to mentioning crime fiction. Wait for it…)
I’m getting awfully tired of ads for phone companies, begging me to switch, hounding me to spend more money for their latest plan, month after month after month.
Frankly, I’m longing for the good old days, when all you could get from a phone company was an ugly black rotary phone. And by gawd, you were grateful for it too, because you had to sweat to get it.
Remember those days? You would move into a new apartment in November, and you would phone up some snotty service rep at Ma Bell, who would treat you as if you were some sort of macrobiotic slime culture. <Sniff – sorry! I’m becoming nostalgic.>
You: I’d like to get a phone as soon as possible, please.
Rep: Let me see…how about…say…July 2017? We can send a man out sometime between the 4th and the 28th. You’ll have to make sure that someone’s home every second.
You: Yes! Oh Yes! I’m so grateful. Thank you!
Rep: The colour will be black.
You: Great! Black is cool.
Rep: Okay, now we’ll need your first born as a deposit.
I really liked those old back dial phones. I mean, those phones had substance; they had weight. You could do a lot to them and they would bounce back. I remember once playing kickball in the hallway at university, and our team would have won, but the darn ball (phone) started ringing and some fool on the other team picked it up.
Try playing kickball with a smartphone. It ain’t so smart after a play or two.
Take my word for it: today’s flimsy phones are simply wuss. Not to mention, they are ruining crime fiction.
At this point, I know readers are going to say, ‘Of course they are ruining crime fiction! You can’t isolate your protagonist anymore.” And yes, this is a problem, unless your protagonist has the intelligence of a demented chipmonk and perpetually forgets to charge their phone just before the climax in every book you write (cliché alert).
But I’m thinking beyond the obvious here.
Think of how those old black phones had significance in old black and white movies. Remember Jimmy Stewart with the broken leg in Rear Window? Remember those desperate calls he made over the heavy 1950s telephone…would they really be as fear-inducing if he was using an iPhone with a ring tone of ‘La Bomba?’
I mean, really. How can you commit a really good murder with a receiver that weighs less than a padded bra? What are you supposed to do…stuff it down someone’s throat until they choke on it?
What’s more, who can get really excited about an obscene phone call made over a cellphone the size of a playing card? Come on now…do I really need to spell out the symbolism?
Melodie Campbell writes funny books, like the award-winning mob comedy, The Goddaughter’s Revenge. You can buy them in stores and online at all the usual sources.