Crime as Dark Play Play can be examined as performance. When humans and animals play, they showoff and exaggerate in order to make an impact on non-players (spectators) as well as playmates (this is accurate of gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys and humans). In most types of play, the agreement of all players is necessary in order to let the play progress successfully. In such plays, the performers convey meta-communicative messages depicting that they are playing. In various manners, play is much similar to theatre, ritual and carnival (Bakhtin 250). Play is frequently an orderly succession of actions executed in determined places for recognized periods of time. For instance, the cockfighting by Balinese can be considered as a deep play that involves all the players not only the cocks but also the owners of these cocks (Geertz 56). Deep play, dark play are some theories to describe an event or situation like horse racing or Russian roulette in which the threat to life is at maximum level. The involvement in the sport or event is so high that it makes people think if its really worth engaging in it. Deep and dark play creates a situation in which the life of that person is entirely dependent on that entourage. The characters might not even realize how grave the risk is before committing themselves to that situation. Vanishing Point, a 1971 American movie, explores the concept of dark play very well. The movie shows a delivery driver, Kowalsky, who agrees to take a car to San Francisco from Colorado. Kowasky is shown as an aggressive man who has suffered a lot in life and lost all his loved ones. From flash backs in the movie, the audience is told that life has not been easy on him as he suffered injuries in the war with Vietnam and was also convicted of drug charges after he stopped his partner from committing rape. Tired with life, he hits the road at high speed to take out the frustration he had inside him for so many years. Though his intentions were not to hurt anyone on the road, Kowalsky is portrayed as a rebellious man who is willing to take any challenge as it comes. The police soon learn of a speedy driver on the road and the chase between Kowalsky and police begins. He soon becomes very popular and the media starts reporting him on radio and newspapers. The movie at length shows how he dodges the police and manages to avoid the traps they lay for him. After playing all the catch and mouse game, the man with no purpose in life (Kowalsky) intentionally hits his car against a truck and commits suicide (Berra).When I closely analyzed the movie I penetrated that Kowasky hits the road at high speed least realizing the consequences he would have to face. It was just like a usual task only this one had a little aggressive approach to it. Kowalsky did not intend to gain the attention of the cops when he started his journey and a series of events made him a victim to the police. He was a player who did not know the kind of mess he would get in. His actions were abrupt and though he later knew it could get him in trouble, he cared less for it as he started to relish the moment he was living in. It made him feel important and popular and he was much happier to be in a risky state like this than to play safe in isolation (Berra).Cape fear is a classic example of a movie that psychologically explores the elements of dark play. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie shows an attorney, Sam, defending his family from a man he once defended in court. Max Cady, a tattooed, heavy smoker and a drunkard was convicted of rape which he believed he did not commit and was not guilty of the crime. He blamed Sam for his recklessness in handling the case and claimed it was because of him that he had to suffer 14 years in prison. Once out of prison, Max starts to stalk Sam and his family. When Sam gets to know this he looks to take help from the police and gets Max charged for stalking him and his family. This infuriates Max even more and he gets more vengeful than ever. It leads Max to kill one of Sam’s associate with whom Sam had an affair. This leaves Sam with no other option but to vacate his home and live in a place far away from the psychotic killer. But Max however follows him and despite all the protection Sam could provide his family with, Max tries to assault them. It ends up in a mess when max is deceived by Sam’s daughter, who he mistook as an accomplice, and is stabbed by her. In the end Sam manages to get rid of Max by killing him in self defense to protect his family (Chibnall)I analyzed elements of dark play in Max’s character. This movie shows how Max starts with a small crime of stalking that leads to bigger crimes of killing people around him. He did not need to kill Sam’s associate but the vengeance against Sam had crossed all boundaries. It gave Max a lot of pleasure and he would do anything to hurt Sam. The character is full of anger in the case of Sam and the purpose to live for is by afflicting harm to the man who destroyed his life. The mission of Max’s life was to inflict pain and suffering to Max in as many ways he could (Chibnall).Another movie that beautifully uncovers the meaning of dark play is the talented Mr. Ripley. Tom is shown as a man who has a desire to alleviate his social status in society. He neglects everything that comes to his way in achieving that status. The movie sets off with Tom travelling to Italy to convince a son of a wealthy man to join his father in New York. Tom however gets attracted to Dickie’s (the rich man’s son) lifestyle, something he always wanted to live like. He kills Dickie and tries to lead a life like him by swapping his identity to Dickie’s. This leads to more murders to protect and hide his identity from those who know it. Tom relished the identity he has adopted so much that he was willing to cross all limits to protect it. Through his clever planning he gets away with all his crimes and successfully manages to keep the identity he so much desired (Nicol).After watching this movie I analyzed that Tom was obsessed with the life of Dickie. He did not think of anything before killing him. He was just chasing his dreams. He did not know that he would have to kill more and more people after adopting Dickie’s personality. For him this was the life of happiness. Tom’s life was boring and dull and though he could improve it he choose to be someone else and experience what it feels like (Nicol).Most of the playing is narration, with losers and winners, conflict, and the display and arousal of emotion. Apart from the formal sort of play, playing may be a formal-burst of play initiated to decrease the stresses in a room or alleviate the monotony of everyday work. While the focus of this essay is on the dark side of play that involves ridiculing people, leading them, deceiving them, intensive risk taking to let others show their desperation. It has been perceived that the dark play induces individuals to start doing crimes. Therefore crime may be considered as an outcome of dark play. As some people in order to relieve their frustration enter into the dark play just to let others frustrate and kill their own anxiety and depression (Schechner 109).Works CitedBakhtin, Mikhail. Carnival and the Carnivalesque. In Culture Theory and Popular Culture. Ed. John Storey. Prentice Hall, 1998: 250-259. Print.Berra, John. American Independent. Bristol: Intellect Limited, 2010. Print.Chibnall, Steve. J. Lee Thompson. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. Print.Geertz, Clifford. Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. Daedalus134.4 : 56-86. Print.Nicol, Bran. Crime Culture: Figuring Criminality in Fiction and Film. New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2011. Print.Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction. Routledge, 2002. Print.
Crime as dark play