In living rooms across the country, Americans have fallen in love with law-related television programming. From primetime legal dramas such as Law and Order, The Guardian, CSI, JAG, and Judging Amy to a host of daytime courtroom spectacles including Judge Judy, People's Court, and Divorce Courtviewers are endlessly entertained by the practices of the criminal justice system.
But with television courtrooms appearing more like the studio of The Jerry Springer Show than institutions of justice, and with weekly dramas seamlessly blending cutting-edge forensic science with exaggerated fictions, it calls to question: just what is it about these shows that has the public so captivated? And, what effects do the images of crime and order presented through the media have on society's view of the actual legal and criminal justice systems?
In Law and Order: Images, Meanings, Myths, Mariana Valverde draws on examples from film, television, and newspapers to examine these questions and to demonstrate how popular culture is creating an unrealistic view of crime and crime control. Valverde argues that understanding the impact of media representations of courtrooms, police departments, prisons, and the people who populate them is essential to comprehending the reality of criminal justice.
Introducing a wealth of resources in social and cultural studies along with suggestions for classroom discussions and assignments, this book pushes the field of criminology in new and exciting theoretical directions. It is essential reading for students and scholars of criminal justice and law.