wanted

by Megan Abbott

Like many crime fiction aficionados I know, I am a lover of old mug shots, and of tabloid photos of the those caught in the act of reckless living, tumult, sorrow and rage.  Some are cracking, rowdy–promising behind-the-scenes bad behavior of the lighter, livelier kind. Some are hopelessly sad. Many just let you fill everything in yourself:

(this from a great exhibit a few years ago here).

Mostly, I prefer these images to be at least a few decades old, or even older.  But there have been a few lately (one a mug shot, one apparently a cell phone shot of bad behavior) that really struck me.  The first one is of a young woman who was, recently, the star of an E! reality show. A probation violator, she was recently caught with a fake driver’s license and black tar heroin. Her expression, the angle, everything about it is striking, strange, sad:

(Note also the t-shirt; so many mug or crime scene photos have organic irony).

And the other one (follow this link) is Lindsay Lohan. With its grainy, nearly sepia quality, it could almost be a century old, or older. There’s something utterly contemporary (cell phone image, party dress) and yet ancient. With Ms. Lohan looking for all the world like a doomed vampiress.

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6 Comments to “wanted”

  1. I love these! I have a bunch of old FBI wanted papers I got at the flea market–the photos are incredible. And I am developing a Lindsey Lohan obsession–she’s turning into Judy Garland, isn’t she?

  2. I too am a big fan of mugshots — they take the abstraction of crime and put it into a human form that is often pitiable. Have you seen this one? I warn you, it’s kind of disturbing: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2010/11/yes_that_flattened_head_mugsho.php

  3. The young lady in the bottom mugshot was originally arrested for being part of the ring that was robbing celeb homes. She was put in jail for 6 months. She was found to have items in her possesion from the robbery that belonged to, of all people, Lindsay Lohan.

  4. As a teacher of high school, what always impresses and disturbs me is how much I recognize those mugshot expressions from the faces of my students. Something about being accused of wrongdoing turns everyone into an obdurate teenager.

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