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Fiction Versus Reality

Fiction Versus Reality

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Published by Kara Hearley

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Published by: Kara Hearley on Nov 07, 2011
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05/01/2012

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Fiction versus Reality Many people rely a great deal on their entertainment to educate them about real life

. Even now with having both reality and fictional criminal justice shows on television many times people learn through the experiences of fictional characters. This unfortunately results in people having incorrect beliefs of the criminal justice system process and the people involved. Legal dramas have unrealistic representations of the daily work and overall process of the criminal justice system. There is a lot on television that could not happen in a real life courtroom. Some examples are; the length of time it takes to go to trial, the shows make it seem as it only takes short time where in real life it can take months or longer. People lash out at the defendant or at the attorney when they are testifying. If this were to happen in real life they would have been charged with contempt of court and brought to jail. In the shows there are witnesses or victims that refuse to testify or even show up for court, in reality they would have been subpoenaed to court and if they failed to be there or to testify that would cause the witness or victim to be charged with failure to appear, and though the trial may be postponed it could also be ruled as a mistrial. My last example is most real life trials will not have a sudden reveal of evidence or a sudden outburst that instantly reveals the defendant as not guilty. Both attorneys know every detail of the opposing party’s argument. Most people are familiar with the television show Law and Order. This show portrays all of misconceptions listed above. The roles of some participants are often misrepresented. I have seen examples where they portray the prosecution and defense of “good versus evil”. Most instances the prosecutor is the good, caring, fair, honorable, all around good person, and the defense is the evil that will “cheat the system” take advantage of the law to find loopholes or any defense to exonerate the defendant. Though the good versus evil roles could also be switched around where the prosecution is the evil for prosecuting an innocent person. Both sides have

they are just doing their job. attention to . An overall strategy that covers the period from the early 1950s to the present would allow a consideration of the development of the television industry along with changes in society and social attitudes in general.. Each of these substantive areas represents important topics to analyze and consider separately and in combination. Television programs concerned with crime and the criminal justice system. Analysis of the programs can look to a number of competing theoretical approaches (behavioral. lawyers. functional. police. Ethical codes require them to try and pursue the case for the benefit of their client to the extent that the law allows. and transmission of related information. and institutional). These roles are very important as they provide administrative assistance to the judge. First a person should focus on entertainment programs. interact with the public. critical. but to determine the accuracy of the fictional courtroom process as compared to that of one in reality. over time in the entertainment medium. in particular. considering both explicit and implicit portrayals and messages regarding the various aspects of the television program in relation to depictions of the system of criminal justice in action. and judges).g. The side they are representing should not affect the kind of person they are assumed for. There are also roles in television that are rarely seen or do not show the importance in the court room the court administrator and staff are one example. we look to track and document related programs over time in which the main themes and protagonists are concerned with various dimensions of crime and law enforcement (e.pressure on them that affect them professionally and personally. document dockets. and create reports. in order to obtain a perspective on portrayals of criminal justice and law enforcement. These roles are vital to a court room as they operate and run much of the court procedures and processes. This would mean.

It is a combined comparative examination. For example. The programs might also be assessed in light of target audiences. and ultimately in relation to perceptions and knowledge of criminal justice and law enforcement in the United States. which brings us to the next research objective. Moreover. region. political affiliation. and political elements (e. cultural. gender. and provides a blanket. appearance. occupation. etc. race. who are the "good guys" and who are the "bad guys". what are their profiles? To what degree do they reflect stereotypical portrayals (or not)? Analyses can provide a social cultural and political image of the "players" in the criminal justice system in relation to society. Extensive national survey research on knowledge of the legal system and an understanding of how it works. is clearly needed in this area. along with questions on general television viewing habits and on the specific related television programs.g. ethnicity. and relationships of the active characters. we look to the public. and to make inferences about those profiles and perspectives relative to their television viewing habits. age. Such survey data would allow us to determine general population profiles and perspectives. religion. presenting an integrative relational model that links media portrayals of the criminal justice system to general public perceptions.. they can also provide us with a comparative conception of the legal system to use as a foundation in examining public opinions and attitudes.and gathering descriptive information on the story lines and on the behavior. More to the point. place of residence. family. education. The third strategy builds upon the cumulative findings of the other two. and others. Second. sweeping approach to the general problem. a comprehensive survey would cover a variety of demographic factors and other social. This kind of model ties the specific television portrayals and messages delineated in the first strategy to the population perceptions and profiles found in .).

There is a large body of interesting and significant research addressing the issue of violence on television and its effects on the viewing population. I propose that we use television programs to determine public . To more fully understand the relationship between criminal justice and society. The overall approach is aimed at delineation of and insight into the socialization of the public to the system of criminal justice and its related implications. Gerbner and Gross 1976a. including knowledge of criminal legal procedures. Research has shown a strong relationship between heavy television viewing and the cultivation of television-biased perceptions of reality (Altheide 1985. in relation to crime and the role of the legal system in general. rather than merely reflecting. educating force and as a social reflection. we must ask a variety of questions concerning who learns what from where or from whom. both as a socializing. we must look to compare that which is provided through the media with that which the public perceives in their consumption of the media along several dimensions. CONCLUSION The current situation in the United States is one of a social structure undergoing relatively rapid change in a number of areas in which knowledge of the criminal justice system is a significant issue.the second. the combined aspects of these strategies provide for an investigation of the television program as a cultural product. similar attitudes and behaviors. What I suggest here is a different issue. Supplying clues to images of the criminal justice system and the impact of television viewing on public perception and knowledge. Thus. Most of the work in this area concentrates on the question of whether or not portrayals of crime and violence affect viewers in terms of engendering. Gerbner 1993). and with what effects. under what conditions. and images of police and of the courts.

especially in terms of their interactive examination. and criminal justice studies in general. a perfect mapping of television portrayals onto public perceptions.images of the criminal justice system itself and to determine how those images might or might not affect public learning. with important theoretical and empirical implications for related cultural. Ever increasing levels of television viewing by the "postmodern" individual may lead to more television-defined public perceptions of criminal justice and law enforcement. . depending on what those portrayals are in relation to other sources of information. or that the two are perfectly coupled. we might expect to find a relative match and a growing amount of influence on public knowledge. However. While the accuracy of these perceptions is another issue. In addition to being separately interesting and suggestive. and basic knowledge of the system and its operation. it is also an especially important one since an increasing number of social scientists argues that the legal system may function best when citizens are not well informed about or interested in its operation (Sarat 1975). we can compare those images and perceptions with "reality" in order to contribute to our understanding of the law and society relationship. at this point. the substantive areas and research strategies proposed here. This does not necessarily mean. perceptions. political. Moreover. can lead to a somewhat different and compelling investigation of the relationship between law and society.

L.References Altheide. (1985). Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole. Beverly Hills: Sage." Surette. (1992). . Gross. and criminal justice: Images and realities." "Support for the Legal System. Media power. & L. crime.. Gerbner. D. "Living with television: The violence profile. Media. R. G.

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