Crime in Mass Media Idealogical Criticism Anna Williams
What is Idealogical Criticism?Ideology is the study of the ideas prominent in asociety.Ideological criticism is when the ideology isquestioned and analyzed.This method of analysis is also often connectedwith marxist views on society.
Do We Glorify Crime? Although we may not notice it, but crime has been a common theme throughout mass media. We are often drawn towards shows, movies, and other mediums thatdepict criminal activity. But is it sometimes glorified? With media being so prevalent in our lives and with its known effects on behavior, does this glorification make us more understanding and tolerant towards people who engagein such activities? Does it influence the way people justify committing a crime?
Basic DefinitionsGlorification: as Oxford dictionary defines it, is when something is“describe[d] or represent[ed] as admirable, esp. unjustifiably orundeservedly”Crime: defined by Oxford dictionary as follows: “an action oromission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by thestate and is punishable by law”
Instances of Glorification of CrimeI will look at two different mediums in which this happens:Television and Movies
NetworkNews: During tragic events, criminals, or allegedcriminals, get their moments in the spotlight after they have made the news for Casey Anthony With the new found fame from her trial, there is atheir crime. For some this may even be one made for T.V. Lifetime movie about her trial: newtheir motives. In most cases we know much “Prosecuting Casey Anthony.”more about the criminal than the victim oranyone who attempted to stop the crimefrom happening. Seung-Hui Cho Released tapes and picture moments before his shooting rampage at Virginia Tech. NBC decided to air some of these shocking tapes. OJ Simpson Although already famous before the trial, Simpson capitalized on his increased publicity by writing his infamous book “If I Did It”
AnalysisIn hopes of trying to educate people of these criminal, oralleged criminal, activities the news ends up glorifying thesepeople.Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson have gained recognition andhave capitalized on there trials. Due to the extensive mediacoverage people began to care about these two allegedmurderers. Also, for those that believed they actuallycommitted these crimes, it sends the message that with enoughmedia coverage, and money it is possible to get away withmurder.
AnalysisAlso in the case of the Virginia Tech shooting, it is a majorconcern that people who empathize with Seung-Hui Chomay copy his behaviors. One news report on CBS.com asksthe question whether the videos that the shooter sent in toNBC news, should have been aired or not. The reporteropened this question to several psychiatrists who hadoverwhelmingly negative responses to the airing of thesevideos. One psychiatrist that was quoted in this articlewarned about “provoking copycat behavior” with thesevideos. "The critical issue is balancing the publics need toknow against the potential danger of provoking copycatbehavior. The power of the Columbine tragedy was evidentin Chos writing.” Dr. Jerald Kay.
Cable and PremiumOn both cable and premium television programming therehave been several award winning shows glorifying criminalactivities. Examples: Breaking Bad: 33 awards including 2Golden Globes and 80 award nominations Boardwalk Empire: 32 wards including 2 Golden Globes and 53 award nominations The Sopranos: 84 awards including 5 Golden Globes and 217 award nominations The Wire: 11 awards including 2 Primetime Emmys and 41 nominations Weeds: 11 awards including 1 Golden Globe and 67 award nominations
DiscussionIn these award winning television programs, the prevalence of crime is withinits very subject matter. These shows not only depict crime but they justify it.In the popular television show “Breaking Bad” the main character, who isdiagnosed with terminal cancer, looks for a way to provide for his family on ahigh school teacher’s salary. He uses his extensive chemistry knowledge toproduce and sell high quality crystal meth.Another one of these shows is the that was highly popular was the Sopranos, which even though it ended in 2007, still plays frequently on AMC. This showis about a New Jersey mob boss and the professional and personal struggles he is faced with everyday. In this show, although there are depictions of hardship, the way of life for Tony Soprano is deeply captivating. When there is a person or entity like this, it is difficult for many people not to want to emulate his/her characteristics.
MoviesEver since the days of Humphrey Bogart in “Maltese Falcon” and James Cagney in “The Public Enemy”, crime movies have been a huge part of American film. This is where much of the glorification and romanticizing of criminals lies. Even with directors and actors like Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro,whose careers are based on trying to bring the nitty gritty truth to the big screen, have inadvertently glorified crime. By their abilityto bring dimension to some gruesome human beings, they made these characters like-able. These movies also makes the life of many criminals seem so glamorous. However these depictions are rarely true or their consequences are overlooked and deemed unimportant.
Examples of glorifying the life of a criminal:2008 Henry Hill interview segment West Side Story (Best Picture:1961): This movie it is a romantic tale of a forbidden love between two members of rival gangs.There is much gang violence however, but that only adds to the story making it more romantic. The Godfather (Best Picture1972): In this movie the head of a major mafia family is painted in a gracious light. He is not seen as a criminal, but more of someone who is a protector of his business family and his actual family (as seen in the very first scene). Chicago (Best Picture 2002): With the musical and dancing aspects of this movie it makes prison life in the 1920s for Women as a stepping stone to fame. In this movie these female murderers go to prison for killing their partners and husbands, but they all avoid the noose. The only one that does get hanged in this movie is the one innocent woman who lost her last hearing because she couldn’t afford a lawyer. After the two lead get out of jail, however, they combine talents to start/continue their dancing and singing show business careers.
However, this isn’t the only way movies paint crime in a positive light. There are manycircumstances where the role of film in a crime story is to present a righteous reason for participating in a criminal act. Many of thesemovies have the underdog factor in them which makes many people relate to the characters.
ConclusionThe ideology is that crime is often glorified, romanticized andheavily depicted in mass media.Although these depictions can be very interesting andentertaining, they can be dangerous. Cho, Virginia Techmassacre shooter, even stated in one of his videos that hewanted to be “like a Quentin Tarantino character.”Relating back to the Marxist theory that the ruling class decideswhat is displayed in media.>On television people that run the networks decide what goes onair. >Golden Globe and Emmys are given to all of thoseprograms (mentioned previously.)>In Movies many are Oscar Best Picture winners
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