8 main conclusions from 3 years of research
8 main conclusions from 3 years of research
Through lectures, academic and dissemination publications, an online survey, public conferences, an exhibition, film screenings, a tourist app, a screenwriting contest and a variety of online texts, videos, courses and events, including a MOOC on European crime narratives, DETECT activities and outputs have proven to thousands of people in more than 10 countries why popular culture is a powerful resource to connect European citizens and foster their reciprocal understanding .
Out of these varied outputs, we selected 8 main findings that offer guidance on how EU policies can sustain the growth and expansion of contemporary narrative cultures and traditions in ways that benefit the development of local economies and the transnational circulation of their cultural products.
1. Crime stories across Europe contribute to the development of local CCIs and new forms of cultural tourism
Among the local initiatives inspired by local crime narrative cultures, is important to mention the remarkable dissemination across the continent of new forms of cultural or screen tourism, such as thematically structured itineraries based on, and popularizing, local narrative content.
2. The potential of European crime media products to circulate is still under-exploited
Nordic noir in particular has proven able not only to reach a global audience, but also to inspire the formats and styles of European, and even global, seriality. However, the European television market is still largely hegemonized by US productions, and Europe’s linguistic fragmentation remains a key obstacle to the expansion of both the infra- and the extra-EU consumption of European audiovisual programmes.
Similar problems are faced in the publishing sector. While the increasing diversity on the map of European crime fiction speaks of the genre’s transcultural value, our study found a sore spot with regards to the infra-European circulation of crime novels from both the Eastern and the South-Eastern countries.
3. The potential of VoD services to increase audience exposure to European diversity is still under-exploited
Our study of also revealed major knowledge gaps in research about RMLs audiences.
4. Negative stereotyping of minorities and social groups is still an issue
The representation of women in European crime fiction has undergone important changes in the last decades, with many series featuring female investigators in leading roles. However, classic stereotypes of femininity that deprive female characters of a full agency are still present even in the portrayal of strong, emancipated women.
A few ethnic, queer, disabled and neurodivergent detectives have achieved narrative agency in European crime stories. These positive heroes and heroines offer important identificatory figures for both minority and majority audiences and attest changes to the ‘us’ vs ‘others’ paradigm that long defined Europe’s self-understanding. At the same time, a problem persists with the way in which these diverse identities are still too often represented according to patterns of criminality, sexualization, victimization and cultural homologation.
5. The North/South, East/West divides need to be addressed
Data indicates that the MEDIA programme’s composition, as well as the goals to support cultural products with a European collaborative profile and distribution potential, have effectually incited a North-Western European bias. The new evaluation criteria of the current Creative Europe TV programming scheme have introduced correctives, which however would need to be further extended to significantly redress geographically imbalances in the attribution of funding.
6. The potential of cultural economy in Eastern Europe is still under-exploited
Over the last decade, HBO Europe productions in this area have contributed in a significant way to improve the quality of TV crime dramas, causing an unprecedented mobilization of local creative talent in this field, similar to what has happened with Netflix in Spain. While this has had important positive consequences in terms of local talent development, shedding light on the potential of these markets, it also raises concern as to the real benefits in terms of original cultural expression, for especially HBO Europe has practically been able to colonize all Est-European markets through processes of format localization. Such a prominent role of global operators in these countries’ production environments raise concern regarding its consequences on local producers and opportunities for co-production.
7. Digital educational tools are today mostly provided by private platforms based outside the EU
This experience has disclosed problems in terms of the availability and local integration of ‘smart’ online pedagogical tools that are today accessible on the web. In fact, a large majority of these tools are today provided by private, pay-for-service platforms based outside the EUThis is just a small yet revealing finding in a more general picture that sees today practically all European universities still depending upon private services for their digital educational activities.
8. Although symbols of Europe rarely appear in contemporary European crime narratives, their Europeanness can be appreciated on different levels
While explicit references to Europe were not easily found in our research corpus, narrative and stylistic trends have emerged that allow to appreciate the Europeanness of contemporary European crime narratives on different semantic levels. Common narrative content includes the representation of transnational political issues (such as the migrant crisis or the survival of Fascist and Nazi ideologies in extreme right terrorism), the use of either infra-European borders or liminal territories with non-EU countries as narrative locations, the fundamental contribution of literature in providing inspiration for quality TV adaptation, and the increasing ethnic, gender and disability diversity of the leading character roles.
The DETECt Screenwriting Contest has revealed a wealth of transcultural imagination in the TV script concepts submitted for evaluation to an international jury of professionals from the creative industries. The remarkable quality of many proposals demonstrates that the younger generation of European creatives is only waiting for opportunities to express their cosmopolitan culture in original storylines involving the European territories and identities in novel ways.
Policy Implications and Recommendations
Studying the transcultural significance of a specific genre of contemporary European popular culture like crime, in all its articulations of production, circulation and representation, has revealed several areas in which the EU could and should intervene to sustain the growth and reach of contemporary narrative cultures and traditions and their potential in terms of development of local economies, also through the transnational circulation of their cultural products. This ambitious goal can be pursued through a mix of actions on different interrelated levels.
Recommendations have been extensively exposed and motivated in DETECt Policy Briefs:
- Creative Europe’s Support for European TV Fiction Programming
- Cultural Diversity on VoD Platforms
- Cultural Studies and the Transnationalization of the European Higher Education Area in the Age of Digital Learning