Popular Crime and Populist Investigation: The CSI Franchise and Multimedia Participation

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Abstract

The worldwide success of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, 2000-2015) has
attracted a number of publications which aim to understand the series’
popularity (Allen 2007, Byers and Johnson 2009, Cohan 2008, Kompare
2010). As a defining US series of the 2000s which had a significant impact on
the representation of crime on television, it opens up several avenues of
investigation, and I am here particularly interested in understanding CSI as
paradigmatic for the ways the US television industries have come to engage
with their audience. Television in the United States changed dramatically
from the 1970s onwards when a combination of regulation—the FinSyn
Rules (1972)—and a development in delivery technologies—in particular
cable— brought a sense of economic crisis to the until then burgeoning
industry. As John T. Caldwell (1995, 5) chronicles, this economic crisis,
combined with changes in programming practices, the industry’s mode of
production, and audience expectations affected the look of US television, but
also had ideological implications. Caldwell emphasizes that the 1980s’
“televisuality” was a historically situated effect, though much of what he
describes continues well beyond the decade, including the sense of crisis.
Indeed, the US television industries continue to experience similar issues as
they did in the 1980s, particularly as a result of audience fragmentation, which
in the era of digitization, if anything, has become more exacerbated. My
interest in CSI, then, is driven by the wish to understand how this sense of
crisis has affected the relationship between the industry and its audience, and
in particular how the attempts by the industry to harness popularity through
merchandising and franchising has led to the creation of additional texts that
engage the audience in particular ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrime and Detection in Contemporary Culture
EditorsMartina Vránová, Zénó Vernyik, Dávid Levente Palatinus
Place of PublicationSzeged, Hungary
PublisherAmericana Books
Chapter9
Pages122-142
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-615-5423-52-9
ISBN (Print)978-615-5423-51-2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • CSI
  • transmediality
  • Television
  • branding
  • Audience Interactivity

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    ELKE WEISSMANN

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    WEISSMANN, ELKE. (2019). Popular Crime and Populist Investigation: The CSI Franchise and Multimedia Participation. In M. Vránová, Z. Vernyik, & D. Levente Palatinus (Eds.), Crime and Detection in Contemporary Culture (pp. 122-142). Americana Books. https://ebooks.americanaejournal.hu/books/crime-and-detection-2/