The San Francisco Film Noir Festival is this weekend, so it only seems appropriate to write about Lowlifes, a crime mystery set in the Tenderloin that we recently discovered. Written by Simon Wood and described as a a new kind of entertainment experience that uses what they call ‘transmedia storytelling’ (don’t know if it’s post-op or pre), Lowlifes tells the story of Larry Hayes, a a drug-addicted San Francisco homicide detective with a dead informant, an ex-wife fighting for custody of their daughter and a private eye hired to find dirt on him. The story is told over a novella, video series, game and blog, which can all be found on the website.
While I’m always excited to see a story set in the Tenderloin (although Dashiell Hammett might be releasing another) and I appreciate the originality of the narrative techniques used, I can’t say I’m thrilled by the stereotypically negative way our neighborhood is portrayed. Here’s from the first episode of the video series (which you can watch below):
The Tenderloin is San Francisco’s ugly side.
Its home to an underclass living lives nobody would want to live.
There amongst the hookers and the homeless I struggled to comprehend what it must be like living on the streets. The noise, the filth, the disease – having to take each day as it comes; always moving on – always going nowhere.