Anikó Imre is Associate Professor and Chair of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe.
This chapter analyzes the reasons for and consequences of socialist television’s embrace of the crime appeal or reality crime genre, which was a key forerunner to the reality boom. Known mostly for Crimewatch UK and America’s Most Wanted, the genre in fact had predecessors in Europe since the 1960s. The chapter zooms in on the German Aktenzeichen XY…ungelöst (Case XY...Unsolved, 1967–) and the Hungarian Kékfény (Blue light, 1965–). Such programs, while they were designed to underscore the efficiency and authority of state law enforcement, also crossed fiction and reality. They satisfied popular fascination with crime and thus participated in a widespread transnational circulation of crime and spy screen fiction, a favorite genre of the Cold War. The chapter concludes by tracing Blue Light through its postsocialist reincarnations under the circumstances of neoliberal authoritarianism and recentralized control over public media.