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By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Column: A small town?

 

October 27, 2021



I think it would probably be safe to say that I might watch a little bit too much “true crime” television. While some may describe my pastime as a bit macabre, I am always fascinated by the stories. I must not be alone because several networks are dedicated to nothing but a full true-crime schedule.

As much as I enjoy watching the crimes unfold about every four or five episodes, I get a little frustrated with the narration of the episodes. Often, this will happen at the start of an episode when they describe the shocking crime, which is quickly followed by several people describing the “town” it took place in. It is often described with someone saying, “this is a small town where everybody knows everybody, and this never happens.”

Sometimes it is a smaller town the size of Three Forks, but often it is far from that, and it makes me crazy.

I have seen Fort Collins, Colorado described as a sleepy college town, and Grand Junction, Colorado, as a place where everyone will know your name. This is just ridiculous, and while I understand they are trying to paint a picture for the story, they are just absurd.

I’ve lived in Fort Collins, and I can tell you it is far from sleepy. It is not a town; it is a city with nearly 200,000 people. I can tell you that in the time I lived there, I probably knew only about 50 people. I didn’t even know most of my neighbors other than the awkward wave as I pulled into or out of my driveway.

City Confidential once had quite the episode that featured my hometown of Rock Springs, Wyoming, and they made it look like it was the size of Willow Creek. The crime they featured took place in the late 1970s and at that time Rock Springs was booming with so many out of state workers in the energy industry that it probably had a population of close to 40,000. Having lived in Rock Springs, I cringed when they tried to make it look like a forgettable dot on the map, but I didn’t fall for it.

It has an Applebee’s and two McDonalds; it can’t be that small.

The other night, I was watching an episode where a reporter was trying to spin a tale that Fort Smith, Arkansas, was where everyone knew each other’s business, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

Fort Smith has a population of around 100,000 – there is no way everybody knows everybody.

I’m not sure who the reporter was trying to fool, but I seriously doubt she knows even one percent of the population.

After viewing that episode, I feel that I cannot watch as much true crime television because they are painting a picture that does not exist. I wouldn’t think that someone who lived somewhere like New York City would think Fort Collins was tiny with a rumor mill that started every time someone stepped out of their relationship, but maybe they do. If this is the case, I’m not sure what to even say and that perhaps people should spend a little more time out west.

It baffles me because the television crews come into these places and see that it is not quite the way they are describing it months later when the episode airs, but it probably gets more viewers if a crime is happening in a place where it is so out of place.

Maybe all of my frustrations will be a good thing. I can switch to a new genre of television. Perhaps I could move onto one of those networks where they fix houses or try to find a home, but those would probably make me every battier because I’m not sure how real they are.

I should probably stick to watching football. I can’t go wrong there unless Chris Collinsworth is announcing, and then I have to switch it to a small town crime show in a sleepy town of 200,000.

 

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