Criminals as Stupid, Sick and Evil People: The Role of Reality TV, Distortion and Intolerance in the War on Crime

Stephen Muzzatti, McKendree College

Since at least the publication of Cohen's Folk Devils and Moral Panics, and many would argue long before, critical scholars have recognized the coonnection between RSAs and ISAs in the orchestration and execution of a "war on crime". This paper focuses on the way in which police forces have utilized the television media to present themselves, often quite melodramatically, as the "thin blue line" which separates "order and civilization" from "mayhem and anarchy". Particular attention is paid to the role of the media in marshalling public support for the police, and "pushing intolerance" and contempt for not only traditional folk devils, but a whole new category of highly stylized public enemies through the use of "reality programing".

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Updated 05/20/2006