Dialogue - Special Issue "Beyond Bad: Criminals as Heroes in Popular Culture"
Beyond Bad: Criminals as Heroes in Popular Culture
The OED defines “criminal” as “of the nature of or involving a crime punishable by law; of the nature of a grave offence, wicked; deplorable; shocking.” But consider the mythos of the western gunslinger, the romanticized view of pirates, or the rise of the Robin Hood-esque folk hero. Western culture’s fascination with crime, criminals, and everything in between is nothing new. And, certainly, western culture seems to get a sort of scopophilic pleasure in terms of watching people behave badly and our media reflects this. The intense following of series such as Breaking Bad speaks to the fact that the viewing public is more than willing to invite criminals into their homes via their entertainment but not in reality.
Further, so called beloved criminals such as Cool Hand Luke’s Luke Jackson, D.B. Cooper, Shawshank Redemption’s Andy Dufresne, John Gotti, Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow, Firefly’s Malcolm Reynolds, and Showtime’s Dexter all garner significant followings. Further, consider recent series such as Orange is the New Black, Animal Kingdom, or Good Behavior, which depict female criminals who can be far darker (but just as beloved) as their male counterparts.
Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy is currently seeking contributions for a special topics issue on the role of the criminal as hero. This issue will examine the criminal as hero/protagonist in any medium of popular culture and focus on their social, political, and legal significance.
Potential papers might consider the following:
- An analysis of any of the aforementioned references.
- The idea of “slumming” as en vogue practice for people of affluence.
- The religious, racial, or gendered aspects of criminality.
- The guilty pleasure we get of viewing “trashy television.”
- The relationship between criminals and popular culture.
- Crime as a commentary on the consequences of urban and industrial modernization.
- Crime and/or criminals as a commentary on the future.
- Familial dynamics and the idea of the “crime family.”
Completed articles will be due December 31, 2018, and should be between 5,000-7,000 words in length and in MLA format.