Hallmark's Happy Crime Films
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This paper highlights the significance of crime films to the resurgence of the much-maligned and critically dismissed form of the made-for-TV-movie, particularly in relation to the highly affective language used to promote Hallmark’s made-for-TV movies. Typical assessments of Hallmark movies as brimming with positive affect encourage us to take a closer look at the representational strategies that make such happiness possible in stories otherwise concerned with violence and death. In this article I draw upon theories of melodrama and film to look at which experiences are considered common or shared in these predominantly white, upper-class worlds, and how they create an orientation against which guilt and justice are determined. I also situate these made-for-TV-movies in relation to discussions about the status of filmmaking in Canada, as an example of the distinct shift in emphasis in Canadian cultural policy that now sees cultural texts as products and prioritizes commercially viable – and internationally desirable – media (often understood as distinct from a “national cinema”). I combine these critical perspectives to track the ways in which Hallmark combines high body counts, low violence, and white homogeneity into happy crime films – and what the mass-production of such happy crime films can tell us about the present and potential future of filmmaking in Canada.