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SOC 2760
Rob Shearer

SOC 2760 Soulliere PrimeTime Murder: Presentation of Murder on 4132011 10:14:00 PM Popular Television Justice Programs Primetime television has devoted at least onethird of its time to crime Murder has tended to be the crime of focus on entertainment television Media tend to depict the crimes that occur the least in American society, while neglecting the crimes that occur the most Distorted presentations may contribute to inaccurate or false beliefs about crime among viewers Criminality is viewed as the failure of an individual who is morally weak or mentally deficient Social explanations are almost entirely absent from crime and police dramas; center around individual pathology Heavy reliance on individualistic explanations that frequently do not go beyond superficial plot motives Homicide typically portrayed as the result of an individual weakness or defect such as mental illness, greed or jealousy, and little or no effort is made in these crime dramas to relate homicide to socialstructural or institutional forces NYPD Blue, Law Order, The Practice Violent crime was overrepresented in the primetime television justice programs analyzed, especially murder Murder attempted murder emerged as the most common violent crimes Official reports of crime in the United States shows that violent crimes are less common than property crimes with murder attempted murder being relatively rare Tends to overrepresent the crimes that occur the least and under represent the crimes that occur the least Aggravated assault is most common and is not depicted in any of the justice program episodes Attempted murder was treated as murder in the analysis of the circumstances surrounding death Firearms are the weapons used most often in the commission of murder Men are more likely to use guns and women are more likely to use knives in committing murder Downloaded for free at 1 Females were shown as more likely to use no weapon at all, letting their victims starve to death, exposing the victim to the elements or being responsible for an accidental chocking because of neglect Men are more likely in programs to use their hands, fists or feet as weapons Murder victims are likely to know their assailants acquaintances emerging as the largest category of known offenders followed by family Media are likely to depict violent crimes as random acts committed by strangers Females are more likely than males to be killed by an intimate such as a souse or lover Drugs figured most prominently in the murder incidents than did alcohol especially among victims Most common location for the murdersattempted murders presented by the three programs was residence Females are more likely to be killed in homes while males are more likely to be killed in the street Results of television shows do not fit the general pattern that most murders are not planned but situationallyinduced acts of violence Murder is typically spontaneous rather than planned Spontaneity of murder is often due to the fact that many murders occur in the context of argument or dispute Murders are likely to occur conjunction with the commission of felony Felony murders are more likely to involve strangers than persons who are known to one another Where women commit murder, victims are likely to be family members Murder is predominantly interracial, people are more likely to be killed by members of their own racial or ethnic group than to be killed by members of other racial or ethnic groups Television crime drams tend to give the impression that most murders are meticulously planned If murder occurred between the spouses classified as spouse murder If murder involved at least one person hiring another to kill a third party classified as contract killingmurderfor hire If murder had multiple victims at one point in time classified as mass murder If murder had multiple victims over a period of time classified as serial murder If murder occurred within a drug transactions drugrelated murder Spouse murder tends to be a male crime Spousal murders are mostly spontaneous, growing out of general discord or a history of abuse, with alcoholdrugs often playing a crucial role Criminologists tend to differentiate between expressive and instrumental motivations Expressive motives derive from emotional responses or psychological reactions such as anger, jealousy, resentment, frustration, fear, love or general dislike Instrumental motives derive from desire to obtain some personal goal such as money or status enhancement Murderers may also be motivated by some sort of mental illness or defect that essentially controls their responses to situations People commit crimes because of something uniquely inside them jealousy, biological deficiency, emotional instability, or desire to achieve personal goal Motives are individualistic Attempts at sociological explanations were made within the televisions shows, but were very unsophisticated and simply blamed society for the individual offenders actions OR they were obscure so that they were likely to go unnoticed by the average viewer ( without crime background) Failed to touch upon important sociological explanations such as: o racial inequality o labor instability( potential sources of conflict and violence) o routine activities theory: crime depends on the intersection of a motivated offender, suitable target, an absence of guardianship o interactionist interpretations highlight the series of states through which offenders and victims of violence proceed o phenomenological theories causes of crime are constructed offenders themselves in ways that are compellingly seductive, coming from emotional logic and moral appeal
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