Once Upon a Stereotype November 26, 2011Posted by Onely in As If!, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
Tags: grimm, michigan dog man, single suspects, unmarried offenders, werewolves
So there I was, slouching in my massage chair, rotting my brain by watching the Grimm pilot, when I heard some singlist dialog. I sat up and sprang into action to write this post a month later.
Fairy-tale monsters live in our midst disguised as humans, but fortunately there’s a handsome cop who can see through their disguises. I tolerate the terrible dialog and acting (one woman actually dies by closing her eyes, opening her mouth, and dropping her head backwards in one fell swoop as she stands in our hero’s arms), for the chance to see werewolves. I will even–yes–tolerate tacky stereotypes of singles.
Our hero (you can recognize him from the monotone and Ken-doll haircut) chases a suspected child-killer-slash-monster through a park to the suspect’s house, then at 23:00 delivers this line to his skeptical partner:
He fits the profile! He’s a loner, he’s never been married, he lives across the street from the park.
Yes! He’s a loner! He must be our perp!
We’re all familiar with the myth that single men are more likely to be serial murders and child molesters. We also all know that some of the most famous serial killers have, in fact, been married–the BTK strangler was married to a clueless wife, and Ted Bundy actually got married while on trial for his life (perhaps playing into the “marriage as redemptive” myth).
The purpose of a profile is to put together a hypothetical picture of a perpetrator (say it five times fast). I guess it can be useful in gaining perspective on a crime (profiling during routine traffic stops and airport security is another ethical and statistical matter altogether). But it only works if you consider many different aspects of the suspect. Seeing he’s single and then using that to push him up the suspect ladder doesn’t get you accurate results.
Yes, it’s TV. But it’s reflective of the larger single-men-are-creepy myth and I’m curious as to just how law enforcement “profiles” are created. Do they base them on cultural myths, or statistics, or what? Do any of our Copious Readers have a background in this stuff?
Photo credit: extraordinaryintelligence (helsing)