Several critical themes prove evident in the 2011 Swedish/Danish crime thriller, The Bridge, where the discovery of a body on the border between the two states leads to investigations. While remakes of the tv series in France/Britain and America are in existence, the idea of transnationalism and cultural imperialism is seen in how the detective agencies attempt to solve the mystery. However, what proves more interesting is how the Swede-Dane series itself avoids common tropes seen in American films, inarguably the precursor to the crime drama, and instead infuses their characters with cultural imprints of their own.
Some of the problems with the media industry today revolve around a reliance on common themes and tropes. For example, the themes of post-colonialism and using active audiences are seen in a majority of films and television series to the extent there exists little in the way of originality. This in turn prompts the need for regional or national imprinting where the productions themselves adopt a more conciliatory effect in assuming a cultural stance; by remodeling the productions to represent a national outlook, the industries in question in effect adopt the norm in seeking audience-friendly productions with the aim of improving ‘ratings’. To solve this problem, we have characters involved in a common problem and seeking answers using their respective talents and areas of influence. That the problems are shared and common, i.e., the mysterious murder, is critical in bringing about the concept of the ‘deteriorization of the imagination’ where the common problem faced by both lead actors leads to a shared national conscience.
The idea of ‘soft-power’ is insidiously present as seen in the majority of programs produced out of the US. Here, audiences and viewers are ‘trained’ to have an appreciation for American values and products. In the 2013 version of The Bridge, the detectives in question are ‘American’ in the sense that they answer to popular tropes of attractive actors possessing worthy qualities such as determination, beauty, intelligent etc. in contrast, the Swede-Danish production revokes such forms of cultural imperialism whereby foreign productions, with attendant foreign ideals and goals in social modeling, transfuse across borders. This is true in the original production where the character Rohde possesses a beautiful home much at odds with his physical presentation. This in a way presents a national conscience where a preference for the ‘self’ as contrasted to a reliance on the ‘collective’ is seen in their private lives. In this way, we do not encounter the problem of social, economic or political domination common in transnational media or entertainment but instead have a shared conscience and problem.
In The Bridge, the main characters are flawed. Rohde seems emotionally insecure and dependant at the best of times while seemingly determined to wreck his career with his self-destructive nature. Noren lacks the stereotypical beauty common in crime dramas and instead evinces a lack of care for her features or character. In a sense, the two adopt a spatial imagery different from the one the American world expects and instead comes across as unique. Is one were to attempt correlating national geographies, one would say the rugged, carefree natures the Swede-Danish actors adopt reflected on their own national geographies of lands covered in winter ice and bearing rugged terrain most of the time.
The question at hand is thus: what makes transnational television so important in the media and journalistic worlds? The importance is seen in the themes observed in the tv series, i.e., the idea of cultural imperialism. Each involved nation-state possesses their own national characters, problems and solutions. Cross-border broadcasting only goes so far in forging a shared transnational outlook popular and common to the involved countries. The supportive elements in the series are such that the actors not only share a common language but also a cultural resonance in their shared interests. As a result, in attempting to discover the nature of the incidents surrounding their spheres of influence, they come together to address a common goal/enemy that threatens the interests of both nations.
The Bridge, 2013-present. [TV series] Developed by Meredith Stiehm, et al. Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton, et al. USA: FX Productions. FX network.
The Bridge (DK: Broen; SE: Bron), 2011-2013. [TV series] By Hans Rosenfeldt. Directed by Henrik Georgsson, et al. Sweden/Denmark: Filmlance International/Nimbus Film
The Tunnel, 2013-present. [TV series] Developed by Hans Rosenfeldt. Directed by Hettie MacDonald, et al. UK/France: Kudos Film and Television. Sky Atlantic, Canal +.