Media outlets have repeatedly compared her disappearance to Scandi crime drama. But Wall was a real, three-dimensional woman—and her death isn't entertainmentby Jane Merrick / August 24, 2017 / Leave a comment
Kim Wall was a talented, versatile and respected journalist, with bylines in the Guardian, the New York Times and Harpers as well as publications in her native Sweden. Yet since her disappearance earlier this month and the discovery of her remains in the Baltic Sea off Denmark this week, she has been treated by the media as a character in a grisly-yet-stylish Nordic noir.
It is not unusual for a missing person case to be described as a “mystery”, but the circumstances of her disappearance—last seen on the submarine of the inventor Peter Madsen, whom she had gone to interview—have been taken as a a licence to some of her journalistic colleagues to discuss the case through a stylised Scandi filter, complete with grey cloudy skies and moody music, as though they were aching to be scriptwriters for The Bridge.
Radio 4’s The World At One on Tuesday described it as a “real life case of Scandi noir,” and the tone of the discussion, led by presenter Ed Stourton, was almost quirky, not somber. The editor of the Danish newspaper Politiken, Christian Jensen, has described Ms Wall’s disappearance and killing as “the most spectacular murder case in Danish history,” adding that similarities with Swedish-Danish crime drama The Bridge “were too obvious to ignore.” The New York Times, somewhat lacking in sensitivity over the death of a freelance journalist whose work it had published just three years ago, actually contacted the scriptwriter of The Bridge seeking a comment. To his credit the scriptwriter, Hans Rosenfeldt, told the newspaper he was “not at all comfortable with commenting or reflecting over real crimes in this way.”
Google “Peter Madsen” and descriptions like “famed inventor” and “celebrated inventor” pop up, as if to mitigate his character before any potential trial starts. A profile of Ms Wall on the BBC News website on Wednesday quoted her friend, a fellow journalist Anna Codrea-Rado, writing on Twitter: “Please don’t remember her as the murdered Swedish journalist who died in a grisly horror straight out of a crime drama. Remember her work. Look beyond the headlines and read about Kim the person, the talented journalist, the caring friend. That’s what she would have done.”
Yet ironically, that same BBC News online piece was under a headline…