Solid Citizens? L.A. Noire and the Collapse of the American Home

Oh Adrian Black – you poor bastard.

Adrian seems mild-mannered and…well…”normal.” But Cole as our urban frontiersman can detect deviance (although he is not as capable as Kelso: more on Kelso later).

You wanted out of that middle-class suburbia to be with your mistress, but you didn’t want a divorce. No, you wanted all the way out by faking your death. His wife seems nice enough – we don’t get to know her very well, after all, this is a man’s world. She dutifully waits at home for her rat-bastard husband and cooks him dinner. He eats and goes out to Cavanagh’s bar to hang out with his best buddy Frank Morgan. According to Mrs. Black, he does this every night. Whoa – wait a minute, every night? He hangs out with Morgan and they hatch a plan to get him out of his marriage?  That’s might homosocial…and drastic…I think the main point is that he wants out of his life but without obligation and that’s a no-no.

After a chase scene, we find Black at Morgan’s place (and may I say that while I enjoy driving around L.A., the traffic is terrible and it’s a nice feature to be able to stand by the passenger door, hold “y” and be chauffeured by my partner, Bekowski). We don’t actually get an explanation of why he is actually at Morgan’s place and why he didn’t take the first train to his mistress….again, might suspicious. How “deviant” is Black?  We will never know: order is restored. Real death is the only way to get out of this life, buster. Besides, he had it all, according to Phelps and Bekowsky. His desire to get out makes him deviant enough…bastard.

Phelps (sitting) and Bekowsky (standing) question Frank Morgan

As I (as Cole) search Black’s house, I find a newspapers and upon picking it up and pressing “A,” we are treated to a flashback to a vet who visits “Alienist Fontaine” – if you don’t know, an “alienist” is an archaic term. The “memory” reverse fades from black and white to color, which means we move from the low modality of black and white to this high modality of color. The past in the present since Fontaine deals with veterans…Cole is a veteran…..(shrug). What I do know is that the game is utterly dependent on noir film techniques to not only guide the gamer but suture the gamer into the game narrative.

Pick it up, press “X” and enter a flashback.

Fontaine has a southern accent, which automatically marks him as a kind of gothic character, particularly since he seems to be treating his patients mainly with a cocktail of drugs. I love it because I am not quite sure what the heck is going on, so it was VERY difficult to stop playing and write this post…okay, I admit it, I did not stop. I played the next case (“chapter”) in the Traffic section: “A Marriage Made in Heaven.”  What’s that?  Did you say that this case parallels the previous one in that we have the dissolution of the American home through deviance? Oh my yes!  But more on that in the next post.

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