CSI: Camera Slams Inside...

By Adam Roberts

Who Killed John Doe?

Here’s a distinctive CSI moment. John Doe is dead. His corpse is laid out on a metal slab in the gleaming autopsy room. The crime scene investigator is clear about the cause of death: “fatal gunshot wound.”

As soon as he says the words the camera shows us a bullet penetrating a human torso. But, no–that sentence hardly captures the visceral intensity of the way this act is shown to us. In fact, the camera becomes the bullet as it bursts through the victim’s flesh: it zooms in, thrusts through the rubber and computer-generated imagery of muscles, organs, blood vessels. We see the slug rip through the body’s tissue.1 we see blood welling out, or perhaps some yucky yellow goo that represents the infection that follows such a wounding. We are inside the body.

Who killed John Doe? We did, of course; by ramming a movie camera into his chest and through his inner organs.

Have you any idea how much those things weigh?

Now I know what you’re going to argue. You want to say that youdidn’t ask the CSI people to cannonball two hundred pounds of TV camera into the poor fellow. That won’t wash, I’m afraid. You are guilty by association. You’re the one watching the show, pushing up its viewing figures, egging the producers on to more and more elaborate modes of killing people off.

I am not being altogether facetious when I say this. Well, truth to tell, I am being a little facetious. Let’s say 45%  …

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