Criminal Heroes in TV shows
- The lead characters in Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos were shown to be brutal killers, yet the stories were constructed around those characters. Why does this seem to be the case? What is the appeal of a criminal as a hero?
The leads characters of the above-mentioned TV shows are brutal killers and are also involved in the illegal business which always gets on the wrong side of the law. As such, they are still on the watch to ensure their safety and to some extent, their murderous actions can be justified because they are trying to protect their lives and earn a living and protect their business empire, albeit illegal. Using a criminal as the main hero in a movie always works because the current audience prefers action movies and in a criminal show, there is a guarantee of endless fights and killing. Also, people like their preferred hero to be tough and new cow down when faced with a conflict or back down when threatened by the authorities or rivals. This is why the above TV shows have adopted the style of using relentless criminals as their movie heroes.
- Do movies and television shows such as these glamorize crime? If so, are there specific crimes or behaviors that are more likely to be glamorized and some more likely to be demonized?
To some extent, the use of criminal heroes glamorizes crime especially amongst kids and young adults. They feel as if it is possible to get away with anything since their preferred hero also did it. Also, they feel that illegal business is a quick way to riches which ends up putting them on the wrong side of the law. In my opinion, there is no criminal behavior that should be glamorized by a TV show because, however, justifiable the crime is, such as vigilante actions against corrupt people, it doesn’t make it legal.
- How can the predominant theories of criminology relate to this phenomenon?
The theories of criminology tend to explain why people result in crime and this is clearly defined in these TV shows. Markedly, no one is born a criminal but they turn out so due to their upbringing and financial status. Since crime seems to be the easiest way of making money, the heroes in these TV shows turn to it to earn a living, but when they have amassed unimaginable riches, it is hard to walk away from it since it is basically the thing they know how to do best. It is like walking away from a job that transformed your life. In real life, this is also the case with criminals who find it hard to shun crime even when it has taken everything from them.
- If it can be established that these portrayals influence real-world criminal behavior, should there be legal restrictions on how criminals are portrayed in popular culture? Explain your reasoning.
It is hard to regulate how criminal heroes are portrayed in popular culture since the TV shows run in a free world where restrictions and bans can cause an unimaginable uproar. However, the violent, illegal movies can be restricted from airing in watershed hours to protect the kids but as for the young adult, there is little that can be done considering that there are some online sites such as Netflix where they can access all the movies that didn’t make it to TV. The restriction is a good idea but implementing it is almost impossible.