Posts Tagged ‘Red Herrings’

Say what?

See the source imageA trope is a device used to propel a story forward, one of the most famous raised in pop culture recently was the PG remix of Deadpool 2, Once Upon a Deadpool, where Fred Savage explained it in the context of “fridging”. Which grew out of a new era Green Lantern in the 1990’s Kyle Rayner, who’s girlfriend was murdered and shoved in a fridge by a villain to move the plot forward. But I digress, why the idea of a trope?

For it sets the scene for the court room drama. Many can come to mind, Matlock, Perry Mason, JAG to name but a few. JAG is the one the twigged this as it follows a very simple plot idea of mysteries. The defense attorney trying to prove their client’s innocence (this was inverted with the CSI shows) of the charges brought against them. The prevailing populist view as charges had been brought is that the person is guilty (yes, I know it shifts how the justice system should work, but think of reality and how when we see someone is charged we make the same assumption?)..

This is the learning within watching these one and done style mystery shows (or made for t.v. movies), it is a great way to begin to unpack how to discuss many issues. Not due to the adversarial nature of a court room, for that is usually downplayed in the series. For it was more about seeing what are the red herrings (those deflections, and misdirection’s that lead away from the truth–hmmm…do we see any of these existing in our public discourse on issues today? Political announcements? The Covid-19 situation, and the conflation of independent rights over social distancing? The list can go on). For it is bringing together the other evidence that is left out of the discussion because it does not fit the narrative.

If it doesn’t fit the narrative is it because it is inaccurate? If so, then it should continue to be left out (does the data, both qualitative and quantitative, pass the litmus test? or not?). If it only doesn’t fit the narrative because the narrative is designed to fulfill an ideology, not a fact statement–well then, the discarded facts need to be brought to light to challenge, and break apart the false narrative, and set the soon to be wrongfully convicted free.

What is happening as you work through a court room drama mystery? As you begin to put the different pieces of evidence together you begin to have a dialogue between your held ideology/belief/assumption and the different facts. This dialogue is healthy, it allows us to have our lived experience (which creates a bias base, that is normal) into dialogue with the data, and out of that to craft a healthier narrative that actually not only follows a line of fact, but also aids the journey towards a better society.

For it is not just the destination that matters, but the most important piece is the journey, and the journey is what can adjust the destination as we open ourselves up to the dialogue partners that eliminate our own ideological red herrings, and clear up the mud and fog of the false discourse, the dualism every system wants to create where one side is Holy/Good and the other is Satanic/Evil, to walk, what Anglicans would call the Via Media, the middle road.

For that is the other piece of the court room drama, both the prosecutor and the defense, provide their narrative of the facts, the judge/jury then are to unpack the narratives and boil it down to what is happening and what this truly means…

Which means eventually we become the judge, the adjudicator of the facts in their isolation and presentation, and have to be open to adjustment, context, and precedence that interworks within us. By following this path, we can discover our behaviours and attitudes may shift and change over time, as our core values become clearer and assert themselves with less and less dissonance in our lived out life.

Are you ready to actually enter into a dialogue within and without yourself?


The Red Herrings of life. Those rabbit trails we follow, not because they aid us in discovery of who we are or what we are meant to do, but they offer what appears to be a shortcut to the solution. They can aid us in avoiding the powerful questions of life.

Me: Columbo’s a brilliant detective people don’t take seriously cause of how he dresses and acts.
Daughter: So like you Daddy.

-Facebook post on Convo of August 15, 2018 explaining Columbo to my kid

It is the lesson learned if one is a student or fan of the mystery. From suspense (ala original Saw movie or Alfred Hitchcock) to the police procedural (Law & order; Criminal Minds; Ironside; Precient 83) to hardboiled detective (Mike Hammer; Sledge Hammer; Spenser & Hawk) or character driven (Jesse Stone, Alex Delaware, Harry Bosch, Sunny Randall) to the cozy (Murder, She Wrote; Diagnosis Murder; Perry Mason; Columbo) to spies (Jack Ryan; Jack Reacher; Bond-James Bond), the British (or deductive/inductive) of Miss Marple; Poirot; Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson, Broadchurch or DI Rebus; (anything by Minette Walters) or due to translation the emerging Nordic…there is something about a puzzle.

Whether it is a heist, a cover-up; saving the world; nefarious evil or just simple murder it is the winding path of discovery laid out before us. Some literary historians put forward Poe’s Purloined Letter as the first modern mystery, if you want that small of scope I can say sure. But it misses the point in the breadth and depth of the genre. What is Shakespeare’s Hamlet if not the mystery of character driven discovery (ala Jesse Stone) and ending a cover-up (like a spy novel) or ancient myths with Pandora’s Box; Prometheus and Fire; Cain & Abel or the story of Tamar.

Each a mystery.

Each having rabbit trails even when the truth can be there if you just look deeply for the facts. Those facts are not simply just data points, coding, or other labels. Those facts are the intangibles of the character of the person, the soft-squishy skills of being human. As well, as the question of what intrinsic worth- what drives the person. For in everyone’s story they believe they are the hero.

The question the mystery genre brings forward for us is a bit deeper if we wish it to be. Are we truly the hero of our story, or simply followed the false leads and red herrings? That is, are we authentically who we are created to be? Or have we become what others have led us to be?

Life, it is a mystery.

Will you accept the challenge of solving the puzzle of Y-O-U.