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SOSC 3992 (3)


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York University
Social Science
SOSC 3992
Allyson Lunny

1. Two trials that gained notoriety by their depiction in the media • Is media representation a crucial aspect of making something ‘popular’? o It is, it is important to communicate information to the masses, otherwise they would not even know about it. Media has been present in every “popular trial” in recent history o Helps “stage” the spectacle, making it public and available to the masses • What is significant about these trials that would be of interest to the masses? • Robert Pickton Trial o Media reported case mostly due to sensationalism, love of “criminal dramas”, forensic investigations. Began when Pickton was identified as the killer, not when all the women were going missing. Would appeal to masses, due to popular culture.  Women going missing largely ignored • Due to hegemonic disourses about Aboriginality and prostitution (Jiwani and Young) • Stereotypical descriptions of missing women from downtown east side: Many aboriginal, drug addicts, sex trade workers (Jiwani and Young) o Aboriginal status further entrenched the view of “wanderers”, women persistently described as “aboriginal” o Aboriginal women and sex trade workers marginalized and confined in “zones of degeneracy”  Zones full of bodies that are unwanted, unmissed, don’t count  These zones allow men to frequent with impunity  Homicides, especially by one perpetrator (serial killers) on top of “hierarchy of crime” (Jiwani and Young) o Displaced sensationalism (Jiwani and Young)  Media focussed more on CSI investigation than human tragedy  Frame of “horror” – pigs, contaminated with human remains sold to market, found more horrible than the murders and tortures of 49 women by media and society • Colonel Williams o No actual trial, as he pleaded guilty, trial by public scrutiny o Transgression is too great, no debate or discussion, no ideological contestation o Media reported the case because of pure sensationalism and spectacle, which would be consumed by the masses  Shocking and gruesome, graphic nature crimes  Shockingly duplicitous character – a decorated military officer in charge of an air base; described as “a rising star”, “one of the best”, an exempliary family man, on the other hand a perverted sexual predator and a serial killer, who o Media played a very important role in the trial by public scrutiny  Degradation ceremony was performed by the media, showing him wearing victims under fragments • It was very successful degradation ceremony o Seemed to show regret and guilt in the police interrogation video, shown in various media outlets o Removed from his everyday realm, from decorated war hero to a scumbag o Reduced to a “type”, which is socially recognized – sex offender, pervert, serial killer o Denouncer spoke and identified as widely accepted community values – easy, as there was no contestation, because the transgression was just too great • OJ Simpson o Widely reported by media, “trial of the century” o Very popular football player, hall of famer, spokesperson for Hertz Rental Cars  American hero, mainstream celebrity, not marginalized or racialized o Great example of a “degradation ceremony” by media and society (Garfinkle)  Public denunciation by mainstream American society, no longer “American hero” • Reduced to a “type” o Fugitive accused of murder o As he was criminalized, he was racialized, “black man charged with a crime”, photoshopped pictures, ghetto upbringing (Silberstein)  Marginalization and distancing from mainstream society. (Silberstein) Distancing from the order • Black community relates to him o Denouncers identified themselves as speaker for the value of American culture and national fantasies (Silberstein) 2. Four types of political trials (Chirtenssen), using two types, discuss how the Rosenbers and Breiwik was political. • 4 types: o Public responsibility – issue is the nature of the public sphere  For an official corruption, question is where is the line between public responsibility and private life  For insanity cases: where is the line of public responsibility, and actions that s/he is not responsible for o Dissent – issue is the correctness of policy and the method of dissent  Dissenter asks: “is policy correct?”  Is asked: was your dissent appropriate? o Nationalists – nature of representation  Is the government representing only one group yet ruling over others?  Does this national group represent a distinct nation? o Regimes – legitimacy?  Was the former government legitimate?  Is the judging court legitimate • What are the criteria of each of these types & how does the Rosenberg or the Breivik trial fit into these models? o Rosenberg’s: described by Christenssen as “product of hysteria”, and righting the psychic balance of Americans (arrested in 1950, executed in 1953)  Dissent • Criteria – issue of correctness of policy and method of dissent o They were dissenting to the regime by being communists during the McCarthy era - policy of repression of communists, accusations of spying for Soviets, including loss of employment, imprisonment. (is the policy right) [Gullete’s article] o Allegedly gave Soviets secrets to atomic bomb – however, there were issues of legal abuse – hiding evidence from defence team, raising bail… (question is this the right way of dissenting)  Nationalist • Criteria: o Issue of representation – government being anti-Semitic, no Jews in it o Is the government representing only one group, yet ruling over others? Yes – represents “white” Americans, but rules over Jews as well. o Is that group a distinct nation? Not necessarily, but it is an ethnic group within the American society, discriminated against, America trying to assimilate them. • Suchoff’s article suggests that it was a nationalistic political trial, as they were Jewish, and it used the “alien” hysteria at the time in the 1950s. It suggests that they were prosecuted as a result of anti- Semitism, in order to promote anti-Jewish sentiment and the goal was a subversion of the Jewish culture and ultimately – total assimilation. Jewish thinkers at the time self-censored in fear of being victimised by anti-semitism o Breiwik  Public responsibility (insanity) – had this tone, as he seemed insane to the public and the court, thanks to his “manifesto”, in which he was delusional, multi- charactered. Trial did not go in thisdirection, as he did not want it to, he wanted to be sane, and political terrorist to prove his political point  Dissent – issue of correctness of policy and its dissent • He was dissenting the multiculturalism policy of Europe. He was disagreeing with it in his 1500 page manifesto, saying that he felt the battle was lost, therefore he would have to take radical measures to protest it. This was his way of asking if the policy is correct, and himself answering that it wasn’t (Sandberg, 2013) He was also dissenting feminist movements, which according to him were responsible for empowering women, which in turn leads to lower birthrates, and demographic decline, a “self”-genocide” (Walton) • The trial didn’t technically ask if this was the right type of dissent, as transgression was way too great to even ask if it is right. He however replied he did it of kindness, to protect the nation, he would do it again. (Sandberg) National fantasies how were they reproduced by two trials? • What are national fantasies? What function(s) do they serve? • Why would law be interested in national fantasies? • Mississipi burning o Background:  Two white New Yorkers went down to Tennessee in 1964, met an African-American local civic activist, to participate in Freedom Summer, a civil rights and voter participation event. • Killed by members of KKK, sheriff’s office and local PD o Orientalism (Jansson) – a process of othering geographic regions outside the state  Helps with the creating on national identity  Internal orientalism – orientalism within the state • South seen as: racist, backward, intolerant, poor and xenophobic • Rest of country seen as: s tolerant, progressive, enlightened, prosperous and cosmopolitan o Mythic American identity:  self-reliant optimistic, strong, ingenious, determined, adaptable, principled, moral, peaceful, democratic and prosperous o Representations of national identity and internal orientalism can be found in different forms of cultural media  Transmission of cultural and political values, movies can play important role in shaping national identities and fantasies o Mississipi Burning produces dialogues and narratives representing “American” and “Southern” national identities, loosely based on real life incident and investigation  Reinforces abovementioned stereotypes  infuses the self-image of America with all the positive traits that oppose the South’s “characteristic vices”  Jansson argues this film’s representation of the South and “American” values reproduces national fantasies and identity for America, while internally-orientalizing the South, which differs from them • Argues film allows the audience to identify with the values of the agents, while separating from the “un- American” traits of the south • OJ Simpson o Proved to be complex display of national fantasies and cultural narratives (Silberstein)  Very unity of the nation at stake,  nation an imagined community, created in part of cultural work of media (Silberstein)  case as a site of struggle over place of race and law in th American national identity o One of the goals of national fantasies in America is to produce national integration (Silberstein)  Provides collective identities, free of personal, regional narratives • Requires amnesia and half knowledge o OJ case showcased that racial narratives, personal narratives that run counter to national identity cannot be removed  Narratives appear in the media as well – as he was criminalized he was racialized, marginalized • No longer part of the “nation” – a marginalized minority figure, ghetto upbringing, etc. Black people identified with that • Different views on the trial by whites and blacks. They were watching different trials - deep divide between white and black America, highlighted by cas
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