Deviance in the Media
Examine one type of deviant behavior as presented in 1 feature film or 3 episodes of a television show that deals with deviant behavior. It’s your choice whether you examine a film or TV shows. (7-8 double spaced pages, Times Roman 12 pt)
• The entire film/show does not need to be saturated with deviance, but avoid ones where deviance is tangential or briefly featured.
• Make sure it is really deviant! If your paper deals with a film or TV show, it is crucial to make sure that what is depicted is deviant. In other words, avoid borderline cases (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian) whose deviant designation would be challenged by most people. If you are unsure about this, ask the class if there is consensus regarding your topic.
• Regarding films, obtain a copy of the DVD. Do not watch the film in a movie theater. The film/show should not be one you already have very strong feeling about, pro or con, which will compromise your objectivity. The goal is to analyze the item as objectively as possible.
• TV newscast, documentaries, and animated films are not eligible sources for this paper.
• Watch the film or show at least twice, taking notes on any of the issues outlined below (as well as in our media readings). Record at least some quotations from the film/show that illustrate important points.
• The paper should examine 4 things:
(1) The specific framing of deviant behavior (type of deviance, how the problem is depicted, how deviants are portrayed, how they are treated by audience members including control agents).
(2) the film or TV show’s overall message or presentation regarding deviance and how these messages are conveyed to the viewer. Does it present a uniform message or mixed messages? For instance, Gangster movies present both positive and negative images of organized crime. Examples of messages include: crime pays / crime never pays; the criminal justice system works / the system is deeply flawed; deviant person is pathological or crazy / deviant person is really normal.
(3) the causes and/or consequences of deviant behavior or the specific behavior
(4) any other themes raised in the assigned readings and relevant to your film/show. Make at least 2 explicit connections between the film/show and the readings. In what ways (if any) is the film/show consistent with the points made in these readings, in what ways (if any) does it contradict points made in the readings, and in what ways (if any) does the film/show raise themes that are not addressed in the readings? Linking the film/show to the assigned readings is a very important part of this paper!
• Include at the beginning of the paper, the film or TV show’s title and dates watched.
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