In this video from a live 1997 performance by Michael Jackson in Munich, part of the HIStory World Tour, Noir afficionados will recognize many classic elements of crime noir in nearly every aspect of the dance: the dark suits, the guns, the dead bodies, the theme of the femme fatale. Although controversy still surrounds Jackson’s private life and possible border crossings into criminality of the most sordid sort, this dance offers strong evidence of his genius for taking tired tropes of a genre and electrifying them with new life.
It offers an interesting contrast to this piece with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse from the film version of The Band Wagon. It has many of the same elements, but with one clear exception: the femme fatale is not alluded to. She is there moving and owning the space with as much danger as can fit into a tight red dress.
And of course, there is this classic dance number from Guys and Dolls, which takes place in the subterranean world of illegal crap shoots:
There’s torture, and there’s killing
and there’s all my bad reviews
The war, the children missing, lord
It’s almost like the blues
It’s almost like the blues …
That was not an accusing finger making a point on your chest. It was a bullet. When you land somewhere in the white froth below, it will be either on rocks or on water or a bit of both. But you won’t feel anything… not by then.
Noir Nation is the only mystery magazine in the world that joins international crime fiction and tattoos. Its content is often dark, hard-boiled, sometimes creepy, but because it embraces crime fiction in all its forms, readers can also enjoy the occasional humorous story and cozy mystery.
In celebration of Canada, Noir Nation No. 4 showcases several stories by Canadian writers, including Mary Agnes Fleming, as well as stories set in Canada by non-Canadian writers. In keeping with the journal’s international flavor, there are also stories from other parts of the globe.
The issue is dedicated to Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor, who was murdered during the terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Collected by Las Vegas writer and managing editor Jonathan Sturak, this issue contains entries from some of the very best and emerging hardboiled and literary crime fiction writers on the international scene, among them Lauren Cahn, Marina Perezagua, Richard Godwin, Melodie Campbell, Bianca Bellová, Joseph Lepis, Neliza Drew, Rob Brunet, Nik Morton, George Beck, Chloe Evans, Bruce H. Markuson, Jeffery Hess, Tony Haynes, Mike O’Reilly, Gerald Seagren, Edward McDermott, Ryan Priest, Peter Anderson, Al Cerda, and J.B. Christopher. The issue also offers an interview with Joseph Trigoboff, author of the best-selling novel The Bone Orchard and the recent memoir, Rumble in Brooklyn.
[NB: After our post went viral, the original video was removed based on numerous complaints. Fortunately, it was still showing on the account of TrueVision Filmworks. See it while you can. The censors are working overtime.]
Often rap music celebrates criminality or reflects on its effects on communities. But something happened with Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, aka L Jinny, the British rapper who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley earlier this week. He took a turn into the darkest alleys of noir, the kind so dark that it falls under true crime.
L. Jinny is the fellow in the red cap:
Compare the Eyes: