chapter  5
15 Pages

Screening crime: Cultural criminology goes to the movies

ByMAJID YAR

Insofar as cultural criminology is concerned with the multiple intersections between crime, deviance, control and symbolic representation, then the study of film would appear to be a necessary element of any such project. As Ferrell (1999: 395-6) proposes, cultural criminology ‘references the increasing analytic attention that many criminologists now give to popular culture constructions, and especially mass media constructions, of crime and crime control’. As such, it consolidates ‘the emergence of this general area of media and cultural inquiry as a relatively distinct domain within criminology’ (ibid: 396). Of central importance here are the ways in which collective, socially shared understandings of crime and deviance, justice and punishment, are generated and sustained through the practices of mediated meaning-construction and textual reading. This orientation has inspired a wide range of media-oriented criminological scholarship, examining variously newspaper coverage of crime and crime control; televised representations of crime, criminality and policing; and images of crime in popular music, comic books, video games, the Internet and other contemporary media channels. The starting point for this chapter is the understanding that the cinematic construction of crime (in its manifold dimensions) should comprise a central part of this wider project.