THE SPECTACLE OF PUN ISHMENT: CINEMATIC REPRESENTATIONS OF T HE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX by BENJAMIN S. BOYCE B.A., University of Missouri, Kansas City, 2011 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Communication 2013
!! This thesis for Master of Arts degree by Benjamin S. Boyce h as been approved for the Department of Communication by Stephen J. Hartnett, Chair Lisa Keranen Brian Ott November 14, 2013
!!! Boyce, Benjamin S. (M.A. Communication) The Spectacle of Punishment : Cinematic Representations of the Prison Industrial Complex Thesis directed by Associate Professor Stephen J. Hartnett ABSTRACT The rapid growth of modern cinema has fostered the evolution of three motifs, or cinematic tropes of the prison setting : prison as a playground, prison as penance, and prison as a paradox Prison as a playground is depicted in cinematic productions that e mphasize the macabre aspects of a stereotypical prison setting, including threatening behavior, manipulation, violence, and prison rape. Prison as penance is demonstrated when prison is portrayed as a necessary institution that mends out punishment to rec alcitrant convicts, with the epitome o f punishment represented as the death penalty. Prison as a paradox appears in movies and television shows that emphasize the ambiguity and confusion of the prison setting, highlighting the intrinsic and irreparable de fects of the prison industrial complex Since first hand information about prison is typically hard to come by, the information presented in these cinematic productions becomes a source of knowledge to the viewer. This knowledge, in turn, underpins a beli ef that the prison industrial complex is a necessary institution, thereby reinforcing tacit support for its continued growth and harshening. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Stephen J. Hartnett
!" TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. THE OUTLAW AND THE LAWMAN IN LES MIS Âƒ RABLES .......1 Literature Review: T he Roots of the Spectacle. .. 1 1 From the Street to the Screen .. .1 3 II. PRISON AS A PLAYGROUND.22 The Cus hion of Comedy .. 29 The Fresh Fi sh Fetish...33 Prison a s Sadism..36 III. PRISON AS PENANCE .....40 Torture as Punishment.46 Dead Man Walki ng .. 51 IV. PRISON AS A PARADOX.60 V. THE VIEW FROM INSIDE THE LOOKING GLASS ..69 ENDNOTES .. 82 REFE RENCES... ... 95 APPENDIX List of Archetypal Prison Films ... 101
# CHAPTER I THE OUTLAW AND THE L AWMAN IN LES MIS Âƒ RABLES On Christmas morning of 2012, Universal Pictures release d yet another film reproduction of Victor Hugo's 1862 classic, Les Mis ÂŽ rables 1 This latest version is based on a musical adaptation which The New York Times reports "has been translated into 21 languages, performed in 43 countries, won almost 100 awards, and been seen by more than 60 million people" since it was first performed in 1985. 2 The newest film made $283 million during its first month in theaters, garnering numerous prize nominations, and winning three Golden Globes and three Academy Awards. 3 Even the soundtrack proved extr emely profitable, reaching the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart just weeks after the film's debut. 4 A century and a half after the book was originally authored, the film adaptation still packed movie theaters, demonstrating the story's continued resonance with modern audiences. Les Mis ÂŽ rables has proven longstanding in part because of the construction of what have since become archetypal characters. An archetype is a recurring pattern, identifiable by commonly held traits, and as Carl Jung conte nds, "The archetype is a tendency to form such representations as a motif representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern." 5 Jung further discusses the study of archetypal images and characters: What we mean by "arc hetype" is in itself irrepresentable, but has effects which make visualization of it possible, namely, the archetypal image and ideas. We meet with a similar situation in physics: there the smallest particles are themselves irrepresentable but have effect s from the nature of which we can build up a model. The archetypal image, the motif or mythologem, is a construction of this kind. 6
$ Les Mis ÂŽ rables introduced two such archetypal characters the redeemed outlaw and the obstinate lawman, whose "basic pat tern s have remained consistent for more than 150 years. The protagonist in Les Mis ÂŽ rables is Jean Valjean, a paroled convict who enters the story as an angry social outcast. Despite his best efforts to move beyond his past life of "crime" (he was initially incarcerated for stealing a loaf of bread), the rest of the world is unprepared to give him a second chance. His yellow identification papers mark him as a dangerous criminal, and he struggles to find employment, food, and lodging wherever he goes. When Valjean is eventually taken in and cared for by a stranger, he responds to the good dee d by making off with the man's valuable silver in the middle of the night. Those who had turned Valjean away based on his yellow papers seem for a moment to have been correct in their assumptions about his character, as he proves himself to be a stereotyp ical recalcitrant thief. Valjean is arrested and returned to the house to answer for his crime, but in a twist of plot, the homeowner claims that the items were a gift, and Valjean is subsequently released. 7 The unexpected sympathy is a turning point in the story, as Jean Valjean the common criminal begins the transformation into Jean Valjean the redeemed outlaw. Throughout the following years, in his quest for redemption, Valjean rescues two small children from a burning building, becomes Mayor of a lo cal town, and saves the life of a man who is pinned beneath a heavy cart. Mike Nellis describes the art of adapting such characters to film in an article in Theoretical Criminology, where he pinpoints Les MisÂŽrables as "the foundational redemptive text." 8 According to Nellis, Valjean acquires his redemption in the story through a series of deliberate penitent acts: he "experiences
% guilt and takes responsibility for his future, makes amends by becoming a productive citizen and prevents suffering in another generation," while consistently enduring "whatever moral duty requires of him." 9 The archetypal character of the redeemed outlaw has remained a prominent figure in prison literature for more than a century The level of success that the redeemed outlaw experiences in his attempt at reformation varies from story to story, and sometimes the archetypal character discards the idea of redemption altogether, but the desire to make a sincere change always materializes at some point in the narrative of the arche typal redeemed outlaw. Les MisÂŽrables also introduced audiences to a second archetypal character obstinate Police Inspector Javert, who represents the counterpart of the redeemed outlaw Javert serves as the story's primary antagonist, incessantly chasin g the reformed Valjean wherever he flees regardless of the years that pass or the amends Valjean appear to make. 10 According to Nellis, Javert, who was himself born in a prison, "embodies all that is hostile to the principle of giving offenders second chan ces he represents both the long shadow of imprisonment, and the impossibility of ever becoming free of its influence or stigma, and the diffusion of penal authority in to every crevice of public life." 11 Javert refuses to entertain the possibility of redemption as an alternative to punishment, and near the end of the story, when the man he is chasing puts his own safety in peril to save the Inspector's life, Javert finds himself unable to accept the outlaw's virtuous deed. Incapable of fulfilling both his moral and his official duty, Javert commits suicide to avoid taking Valjean back to prison. The archetypal obstinate lawman lacks the capacity to recognize sincere redemption in the character of the
& redeemed outlaw ; thus, w hen faced with the possibility of the outlaw's redemption, he chooses his own death. The two archetypes detailed above, the redeemed outlaw and the obstinate lawman, continue to appear as recurring characters in modern texts and films. In 1967, Cool Hand Luke introduced v iewers to Luke Jackson, a decorated war veteran who is sentenced to prison for drunkenly stealing the heads off of parking meters. 12 The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther said that the film's script "elevates this brutal picture above the ruck of prison films and into the range of intelligent contemplation of the ironies of life." 13 Luke's crime is petty, and his status as an ex Sergeant in the Army gains him the viewer's support early in the story. As such, the viewer holds no hostility toward Lu ke and does not desire to see him punished for a victimless crime. Once incarcerated, Luke becomes a mascot of sorts, changing the atmosphere of his cellblock from banal and institutionalized to lively and imaginative. In a famous scene, when Luke boldly bets, "I can eat fifty eggs," his friend questions his claim, saying, "You ever eat fifty eggs?" Luke coyly responds, Nobody ever ate fifty eggs," exemplifying the "Cool unbreakable attitude which he exudes throughout the movie. 14 The archetypal lawma n in Cool Hand Luke is portrayed as a sharp shooting guard with a quick trigger finger who eventually murders Luke when he realizes, much like Les MisÂŽrables 's Javert, that the system he represents is not equipped to deal with an inmate like Luke, who does not fit the typical convict stereotype. Also released in 1967, Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen tells the story of a group of twelve men, each convicted of a violent crime and sen tenced either to life in prison or to death. 15 American film critic Roger Ebert said that, "right up to the last scene the
' movie is amusing, well paced, intelligent." 16 In the film, the convicts are given a chance to regain their freedom by accepting a dangerous mission that will almost certainly end in their deaths. Colonel Ev erett Dasher Breed is the story's obstinate lawman, a strict leader who is incapable of entertaining the possibility that a group of convicts could possibly prove successful in anything except for crime and mayhem. In a conclusion that seems to both confi rm and reject the Colonel's beliefs, the surviving convicts trap a group of German officers and their mistresses inside of a bunker, douse them in gasoline, and then ignite them with a grenade. The assault is a success, but only a single convict survives the mission to regain his freedom and, presumably, to seek his redemption. In 1974, The Longest Yard won a Golden Globe Award for Best Picture in the category of Musical or Comedy. 17 The film tells the story of redeemed outlaw Paul Crewe, a former professional quarterback who is sentenced to 18 months in prison for "stealing" his girlfriend's expensive car and drunkenly (and intentionally) driving it into a lake. 18 In prison, Crewe agrees to coach a group of his fellow convicts in a scrimmage game a gainst the prison guards, who already have a well trained team. The film's obstinate lawman is Warden Hazen, who threatens Crewe with additional trumped up charges unless he intentionally loses the climactic game. Crewe's girlfriend is portrayed as a cli chÂŽ spoiled brat, and the viewer holds little against Crewe for drowning her expensive car, but he further gains the viewer's sym pathy as the final football game plays out In a hilarious scene where Crewe proves his loyalty to his fellow inmates, he is f lagged for two subsequent penalties when he intentionally throws the football at a guard's crotch and then has the entire convict team pile on top of him. The inmates
( eventually win the game, after a last second, one yard run the longest yard puts the co nvicts ahead as time runs out. In 1979, Escape From Alcatraz exploited the same man against the system method of redemption in telling the semi biographical story of Frank Morris, who is convicted of bank robbery and sent to Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. 19 Roger Ebert said that the movie "is a taut and toughly wrought portrait of life in prison," emphasizing "the ways of dehumanizing that are peculiar to this prison." 20 For example, his first night at Alcatraz, Morris is marched through the cellblock stark naked, and then locked in his cell as a guard quips, "Welcome to Alcatraz." As the film unfolds, the plot pits Morris against the prison itself, and when he is targeted in a sexual assault and a subsequent attempted murder, his only solution seems to be to escape from the prison. The obstinate lawman in Escape from Alcatraz is the nameless Warden, who is unable to accept the apparent success of the prison break, insisting instead that Morris and his co conspirators drowned. As he and his men walk the sh oreline in search of the inmate s bodies, the Warden finds a chrysanthemum that belonged to one of the escaped convicts, presumably placed there when the escapee s came to shore. Rather than accepting the blatant evidence of the successful prison break, th e Warden throws the flower into the sea and obstinately continues the search. 21 In 1996, Sling Blade became what Nellis calls "arguably the first of a series of movies which quite explicitly placed personal redemption at the heart of the released prisoner narrative," presenting a picture of a convicted felon who wants to "go straight," and "also feel[s] compelled to make amends for harm done, to atone." 22 Karl Childers is a mentally challenged man who is released from a criminal asylum after serving 20 yea rs
) for murdering his mother and her lover in a confused fit of rage. Childers is presented as a good hearted and likely harmless character, and it is not difficult for the viewer to feel sympathetic to his situation early into the story. He embraces a pi ous lifestyle and is befriended by a 10 year old boy named Frank. When he discovers that Frank and his mother are being abused by the man who they live with, he takes matters into his own hands. In a dramatic, final act of redemption meant to protect Fra nk and his mother, Childers murders the abusive boyfriend and ends up back in the custody of the film's symbolic obstinate lawman, the criminal asylum. 23 In 1998, James Gray's American History X was heralded by T he New York Times as a film that presents a "bold but reckless synthesis of visual enticement and rhetorical fever" in a way that "dares to address America's neo Nazi culture with brutal candor." 24 American History X provides one of the most extreme examples of inmate redemption in the character of Derek Vinyard, who begins the film as the leader of a Neo Nazi gang in Los Angeles, California. Two African American men murder Vinyard's father while he is working as a fire fighter, and Vinyard subsequently murders two other African American men when h e catches them breaking into his car. During the three years that he spends in prison for manslaughter, Vinyard experiences a polar change in his belief system, but not until after he is gang raped by white supremacists in retaliation for befriending an A frican American inmate 25 Helen Eigenberg and Agnes Baro have noted that American History X also uses rape as a central theme to motivate major change in the main character," causing the viewer to sympathize with Vinyard based on the horror he experiences in prison. 26 Once released, Vinyard becomes a spokesman for racial equality, but he is rejected by many of his old friends, who still profess the Neo Nazi
* beliefs he supported prior to his incarceration. He continues to seek redemption by attemptin g to help his younger brother avoid a fate similar to his own; or as Nellis suggests, he "makes amends by becoming a productive citizen and prevents suffering in another generation," while consistently enduring "whatever moral duty requires of him." 27 It c ould easily be argued that the obstinate lawman in American History X is the extreme racism that Vinyard experiences while in prison, for his time in prison changed his entire belief system and led to his altruistic ideology, and it refused to release its ideological hold on him when he was released Jim Sheridan's 2005 Get Rich or Die Tryin' is an embellished biographical account of rapper, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, who plays the role of Marcus, the story's redeemed outlaw. 28 The New York Times Film Crit ic A. O. Scott called the movie "the latest film to propose hip hop stardom as both an alternative to and an extension of the criminal life a follow your dream tale of adversity and redemption." 29 Marcus is a drug dealer who winds up in prison, where he learns that his girlfriend his pregnant with his child. He subsequently challenges the obstinate lawman, portrayed as the social system that provided him few options other than drug sales, and then sentenced him to prison for his misbehavior. Marcus manages to polish his talent for rapping, and once released from prison, he pursues what Nellis describes as "redemption through art," thus disengaging himself from the drug trade and pursuing a legitimate lifestyle. 30 As these brief comments on some of t he key cinematic representations of prison demonstrate, the archetypal characters of the redeemed outlaw and the obstinate lawman have been repackaged time and again and then resold as different individuals in new movies, yet each portrayal continues to di splay similar characteristics This is what Carl
+ Jung meant when he described archetypal images as "representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern." 31 In addition to the tried and true archetypes of the redeemed ou tlaw and the obstinate lawman, modern television shows and films that focus on imprisonment ha ve fostered the evolution of the clichÂŽ prison setting, as producers have discovered that the formula for cinematic gold requires certain key ingredients. The su ccess of these films often seems to depend on the ability of their creators to emphasize aspects of the prison environment that viewers find entertaining, while neglecting features that viewers find unpleasant or boring. For example, according to the Unit ed States Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 2011 2012, 4% of state and federal prisoners reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual victimization by either staff or fellow inmates during the previous year. 32 But in a recent article in Sexuality and Culture, Eigenberg and Baro posit that "while most studies on male rape in prison suggest that it is a relatively rare event," in modern movies, "the inclusion of at least a reference to male rape and/or a peripheral r ape scene has become a standard part of prison film production." 33 Likewise, Dawn Cecil recognizes a similar formula at work in modern movies depicting eroticized female prisons: "These babes behind bars' films perpetuate highly sexualized images of femal e prisoners It is Hollywood, after all; they do not necessarily seek to educate instead they aim to titillate." 34 Leonidas K. Cheliotis perhaps said it best in a recent article in Crime, Media, Culture, where he described the fictional prison setting as a place where: Imagination tends to be taken on a sensational journey into spaces where the false and the fictional arise victorious from the ashes of the real. Prisons are usually typecast either as dark institutions of perpetual horror and virulent vandalism or idyllic holiday camps offering in cell television and gourmet cuisine on the back of taxpayers. 35
#, In sum, television and film representations of the prison environment reinforce exciting tropes of incarceration, while minimizing aspects of i mprisonment that fail to sufficiently "titillate" the viewing audience. This Masters Thesis will examine the emergence and growth of three archetypal prison settings, and the way that these settings interact with the archetypal obstinate lawman and the r edeemed outlaw. Cheliotis's institutional "idyllic holiday camp," which I shall refer to as prison as a playground, is exemplified in scenes depicting prison murder, rape, or drug sales, and recently, as Bill Yousman posits such "sensationalized versions of prisons and prisoners are most familiar to television audiences." 36 These crimes represent many of the very acts that prisons are supposed to dissuade, but scenes depicting them taking place inside of a prison suggest that, for at least some inmates, t he rules can be circumvented. The "dark institutions of perpetual hor ror and virulent vandalism" described by Cheliotis are what I shall refer to as prison as penance and the focus will be on films that portray the penitentiary as a terrible but necessar y place where convicted felons serve their well earned punishment. A third motif seems to recur in the movi es reviewed within this analysis, represented through the confusion and systemic ineffectiveness of the prison institution; the in trinsic ineptness of the prison industrial complex is represented in what I shall refer to as the trope of prison as a paradox These three archetypal prison settings and their relationship to the characters presented with and through them will provide the focus of this st udy. As Hollywood has consistently sought to outdo itself with each new film or television production, the tropes of prison as a playground, prison as penance, and prison as a paradox have been refined and adjusted to satisfy consumer demands : a brutal p rison
## rape in a new movie must outdo the brutal prison rape from the last movie. Yousman describes the outcome of such representational evolution s stating that: Brutal state practices are therefore legitimated through narratives that frame the punitive treatment of prisoners as both necessary and deserved. These brutalizing fictions suggest that the penal system is too lenient or soft that rehabilitation is impossible, that prisoners are dangerous creatures who require severe punishment, and that, ultimately, capital punishment is the only solution If this is the case, if these creatures are so unlike us, so alien and dangerous, then we must become even more punitive, even more repressive in our approach to criminal justice. Even more polici ng and surveillance is necessary, even more prisons, even harsher prison environments and sentencing policies; this is all deemed necessary by these narratives of terror 37 In fact, Yousman goes on to describe the power of cinematic representations to af fect the perspective of individuals who have been to prison : "even those viewers whose life experiences were full of firsthand stories and images of life in prison resorted to mass media representations to make sense of their lives." 38 Not only does the ev olution of the clichÂŽ cinematic prison setting reinforce the perception that the prison industrial complex is indispensable, but it insinuates the necessity of its continued expansion and harshening if society is to remain free from the threat of dangerous and malicious criminals. Literature Review: The Roots of the Spectacle The New Testament Bible gospel of Matthew tells the gruesome story of John the Baptist's death. 39 During a drunken party, King Herod was so enchanted by the erotic dancing of a you ng lady that he offered her any gift that she requested. After discussing her myriad options with her mother, she decided that she wanted the head of John the Baptist delivered to the party on a silver platter. At the time, John the Baptist was still ali ve, locked in a Roman prison for crimes against the state. The gruesome execution of the Jewish prophet and the subsequent displaying of his severed head provided
#$ entertainment for a room full of the King's party guests. The historical account of this ma cabre event provides a two thousand year old example of the spectacle of punishment: execution as a source of entertainment, with a plot driven by an intoxicated King's overzealous libido. The tradition of the spectacle of punishment continued to evolve through out the next two millennia. Jesus Christ was publically executed in the most brutal fashion by the penal institution of his time. 40 The crucifixion narrated in the Biblical gospels was not uncommon in its viciousness, and Jesus was actually execute d at the same time as two other criminals, both sentenced to death for the crime of theft. In fact, Jewish law at the time stipulated the spectacle of public execution for a number of other non violent "crimes," including blasphemy, adultery, and homosexu ality. 41 These executions typically occurred in public venues, and were frequently carried out at the hands of the citizenry via the horrific method of stoning: the general public would throw rocks at the accused until he or she was dead. 42 This method of execution not only provided a free, public spectacle of punishment to anyone who wished to attend, but it also created a "hands on" experience for those who wished to participate in the killing by throwing stones at the condemned. Although the modern day Bible does not explicitly describe these events as exciting or entertaining, the fact that Jewish society recognized the laws and carried them out for thousands of years is evidence of the long standing social acceptance of the spectacle of punishment: someone had to throw the stones that resulted in the death of the accused. As states progressed into more mo dern nations and jurisdictions, many such acts of public violence were eventually declared illegal; but state sanctioned violence as punishment for a crime remained a spectacle that served to
#% satisfy what Sigmund Freud refers to as "The natural instinct of aggressiveness in man," which "opposes this program of civilization" when left unregulated. 43 Civilized man would no longer be responsible for meriting out his own justice based on his "natural instinct of aggressiveness," but would have to seek relief th rough the "program of civilization," also known as the legal system. In the opening paragraphs of Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Michel Foucault describes a grisly scene from the mid eighteenth century in which a man convicted of murder wa s publically executed after being tortured before the citizenry: he was beaten, burned with sulfur, ripped asunder with red hot pinchers, quartered by horses, and eventually burned to ashes. 44 Antebellum America adopted a similar attitude toward the public spectacle of punishment, and as Stephen Hartnett explains, even founding father William Penn felt that "corporeal punishments were useful public performances, literally theatrical plays demonstrating that elites would use violence to create political orde r." 45 The public stood witness to such spectacles of punishment, including public torture, hangings, and beheadings, until well into the 19 th century, when, according to Foucault, the emphasis on judging the crime began to be replaced with an emphasis on j udging "the soul of the criminal." 46 But punishment that was sanctioned by the sovereign had already assumed its place in human culture, creating a permanent distinction between portrayals of violence that were legal, and those that were not. From the St reet to the Screen The spectacle of punishment has long since moved from the street gallows into the walled penitentiary, where it now remain s stubbornly hidden from public view. In modern times, the spectacle of punishment is instead presented via television and movies,
#& commodified for what Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer called "aesthetic mass consumption," a term that encompasses film productions designed to appeal to a mass audience. 47 The walls that keep prisoners contai ned also keep the eyes of the general public restrained, but the film reproduction of a prison environment casually discards this bothersome censor. As Yousman claims, "because most viewers will not have experienced incarceration directly, media represent ations become their primary form of imagining prison." 48 It is easier, safer, and more comfortable to view a prison through a movie or a television show than to visit an actual prison, and the sheer number of prison films produced in the last half century (see Appendix A) shows that viewers still enjoy such vicarious trips to the penitentiary. These representations cause the viewer to feel as if she is a part of the prison settings, while also preserving a sense of safety and security. As Cheloitis conten ds, "The inherent artificiality of media exposure to crime helps neutralize the incipient sense of personal danger, without preventing evocation of it as real and grave." 49 The viewer is exposed to events and environments that would normally evoke a sense of trepidation, but the safety of the screen allows for the temporary disabling of such emotions because the danger is not real, it is only an illusion. In thi s way, prison and the spectacle of punishment are key components of the cultural industry, provi ding many consumers with the only source of information readily available to them concerning the operation of a penitentiary. As Michel De Certeau argues, "Today, fiction claims to make the real present, to speak in the name of facts and thus to cause the semblance it produces to be taken as referential reality." 50 In this quotation, Certeau refers to the ability of imaginary spaces created through the magic of cinema to feel to viewers as if they are real: the production
#' masquerading as reality. For e xample, Shawshank Prison does not exist; it is a figment of author Stephen King's imagination projected onto a dilapidated state prison facility in Mansfield, Ohio. 51 But The Shawshank Redemption is a movie that takes the viewer into the bowels of a high s ecurity, early twentieth century prison. For those who have never been inside of an actual prison, the dark scenery and violent atmosphere serve to provide a point of reference in the absence of any rea l personal knowledge, an excellent example of Certeau 's "referential reality." 52 The concept of fiction experienced solely for enjoyment is supplemented with a dual reality in which Shawshank Prison and the actors who occupy it create a space that the viewer experiences as reality. Adorno and Horkheimer pre figured Certeau's sentiment: "Real life is becoming indisti nguishable from the movies the film forces its victims to equate it directly with reality." 53 Sometime during the fourth century B.C., Plato described how "Art imitates life" in Book X of h is stoic masterpiece, The Republic: "The imitator or maker of the image [artist] knows nothing of true existence; he knows appearances only." 54 Plato's contention was that the artist does not know enough about the situation she recreates to present a truly accurate picture. Instead, the artist learns only enough to present an acceptable facsimile: a copy fit to convince only those with minimal knowledge of the subject matter. Two millennia later, flamboyant author Oscar Wilde flipped Plato's assertion aro und to claim that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life," suggesting that mankind's insatiable "desire for expression" feeds upon itself: "Art is always presenting various forms through which this expression can be attained. Life seizes on th em and uses them, even if they be to her own fault." 55 Although the two statements seem at first antithetical, Plato and Wilde both agree that the artistic
#( representation is only a simplified version of some original, and more importantly, that the represe ntation provides the otherwise uninformed viewer with what Certeau later called "referential reality." 56 Fredric Jameson took this concept a step further, ominously suggesting that the commodification of culture will leave future societies reliant on these narratives as a source of historical knowledge: "we are condemned to seek History by way of our own pop images and simulacra of that history." 57 Whether o ne holds that art imitates life or that life imitates art, the two ideas share an interconnected and curiously dialectical relationship: they appear to both illuminate and complicate one another at the same time. Eigenberg and Baro demonstrate this curious dialectic in a recent article in Sexuality and Culture where they delineate the interconnected r elationship between the real and its cinematic portrayal, in this case referring to scenes of sexual assaults in male prison movies: Male rape wa s depicted as almost inevitable movies that sensationalize male rape in prison may actually contribute to a social structure that has come to accept, perhaps even endorse, that rape is part and parcel of the incarceration experience. It is abhorrent to think that we live in a society that vie ws rape in prison as a form of deterrence, but the deconst ruction of these films suggests there is no general outrage that men are imprisoned in institutions where they are not safe from either the threat or the reality of sexual assault. 58 Referri ng to the same cinematic portrayals Cheliotis claims that, Rather than undermining the external legitimacy of prisons, and despite endangering professional careers, media representations reinforce public perceptions of the overall essentialness of the pr ison institution and of the essentialness of its further growth and harshening." 59 Travis Dixon posits that, when it comes to cinematic prison portrayals, "stereotypes tend to be both self fulfilling and self perpetuating precisely because they help us exp lain the
#) world." 60 And Sue Mahan and Richard Lawrence said it succinctly in a recent article in The Prison Journal: "When it comes to crime, media coverage is socially constructed reality." 61 Since actual penitentiaries are essentially censored from public oversight, "media coverage" provides the most prominent source of information concerning the silent and hidden world of prison operations. In the following pages I will examine the emergence and evolution of movie and television representations of the prison setting, following the progression of three motifs that consistently emerge in prison representations: prison as a playground, prison as penance and prison as a paradox. Each television show and movie examined herein will present a picture of an archetypal prison setting, as each was chosen to serve as what Communication scholar Kenneth Burke called a "representat ive anecdote:" a story t hat is supple and complex enough to be representative of the subject matter it is designed to calculate. It must have scope. Yet it must also possess simplicity, in that it is broadly a reduction of the subject matter 62 "Representative anecdotes" are valuable tools for understanding the objects they portray, and in the case of movies and television representations of prison, any event t hat is left out of the program any reduction of the subject matter can say just as much about the film as the events that are included. In many regards, the viewer appreciates this "reduction," for most movies and television shows would be far too lengthy and banal if every second of the main character's life was include d. The events emphasized and those ignored create the very fabric that holds the movie plot together, allowing the viewer to follow along with minimal effort on her part Burke expounded on his idea of selective focus, claiming that, "men seek for vocab ularies that will be faithful reflections of reality. To this end, they must develop
#* vocabularies that are selections of reality. And any selection of reality must, in certain circumstances, function as a deflection of reality." 63 In this regard, the tel evision and movie tropes of prison as a playground, prison as penance and prison as a paradox are each a "reflection," a "selection," and a "deflection" of reality: the producers of prison movies choose to portray certain aspects of incarceration, while u nderemphasizing others and ignoring some completely. In the half century that has passed since Burke first coined his idea of selective focus, the largest advancement in the way of television and film production involves the improvement of technology, nam ely digital editing software. While producers can manipulate scenes and add realistic special effects more easily than ever before, viewers have more entertainment options and can access information faster than ever before. What has resulted is a situati on in which the images that appear on a screen are increasingly unreliable, even as they continue to appear more realistic. Steven Shaviro describes this phenomenon in his recent book, Post Cinematic Affect, where he succinctly explains the history of medi a technology as follows: "Film has long since been displaced by newer media television, video, and a whole panoply of computer based forms as the cultural dominant' of our society." 64 He goes on to describe how new modes of production, digitization, and i mproved special effects have created a standard based upon "a different mode of production than those which dominated the twentieth century." 65 Shaviro delineates this concept, stating that: Recent film and video works are expressive they provide ind ices of complex social issues but they are also productive in the sense that they do not represent social processes, so much as they participate actively in these processes, and help to constitute them. Films and music videos, like other media works, are machines for generating affect they generate subjectivity, and they play a crucial role in th e valorization of capital. 66
#+ Rather than acting as a simple representation of an object, Shaviro shows that film s actually help to create a "structure of fe elings" related to the object that there is a dialectic al relationship between the film, the object s portrayed in it, and the consumer's sense of subjectivity while viewing the images. As with any commodity, images that elicit a desirable affect in the viewer represent a genre that she is likely to return to; and conversely, images that do not elicit th e desired emotional response will be subsequently passed over for alternatives that may produce the desired affect. As such, producers of any commodity, including television and movie prison narratives, must meet standards that satisfy the consumer's dema nds, or else the consumer will simply choose a more affective substitute Coupled with the unprecedented ease of access to mass media via the Internet and video services such as YouTube and Netflix, Shaviro's "different mode of production" is playing a pa rt in the entertainment decisions of more individuals than ever before. 67 The spectacle of punishment has joined the ranks of commodity, streaming ceaselessly into the homes of consumers via television sets, computers, smart phones, and tablets. As Guy Debord notes in Society of the Spectacle "The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life." 68 Once the representation of the prison environment, as depicted via Shaviro's "new media" representation, b ecomes a source of knowledge to the viewer, there is no need for additional information: "The real consumer becomes a consumer of illusions. The commodity is this factually real illusion, and the spectacle is its general manifestation." 69 This is what Mic hel de Certeau meant when he described the illusion of knowledge produced from the consumption of "copies of stories," each of which "claims to make the
$, real present, to speak in the name of the facts and thus to cause the semblance it produces to be taken as referential reality." 70 As the proliferation of mass media continues unchecked, the spectacle of punishment will continue to evolve, carving out an expansiv e space of "referential reality which the viewer is enticed to accept as fact in the absence of any additional information. This slippage between an actual prison and its cinematic representation has negative policy implications. Indeed, Certeau's "referential reality" leads to what Yousman describes as a situation in which, "when viewers mistake violent media spectacles for real beings,' they tend to embrace increasingly severe forms of social control such as increased surveillance, policing, and incarceration." 71 As this examination of the tropes of prison as a playground, prison as penance an d prison as a paradox unfolds, the dialectical relationship between the real and the spectacle will reveal a situation in which, as Cheliotis aptly posits, "media representations reinforce public perceptions of the overall essentialness of the prison insti tution and of the essentialness of its further growth and harshening." 72 Yousman's claim that "even those viewers whose life experiences were full of firsthand stories and images of life in prison resorted to mass media representations to make sense of the ir lives," suggests that not only do these narratives create Certeau's "referential reality in the absence of any personal information, but that, in some cases, they have the ability to supersede the real accounts of those who have served time in prison. 73 When the source for society's information concerning criminal corrections consists solely of cinematic spectacles the necessity of sustaining and expanding the current system is unquestionably reinforced. As Yousman so aptly contended, "These brutalizing fictions suggest that the penal system is too lenient
$# or soft [that] even more policing and surveillance is necessary, even more prisons, even harsher prison environmen ts and sentencing policies; this is all deemed necessary by these narratives of terror 74 As this Thesis unfolds, a consistent theme will emerge in the cinematic accounts examined herein, and the recurring tropes of the prison environment will be shown to tacitly reinforce the belief in the necessity of the continued growth and harshening of the prison industrial complex.
$$ CHAPTER II PRISON AS A PLAYGROU ND T he discussion of the trope of prison as a playground for demented, recalcitrant felons will revolv e around FOX's Prime Time television series Prison Break 75 New episodes of the show aired for more than four years on FOX's local affiliate stations, and the series has since been released in multiple formats via Internet and videodisc. It was both widel y viewed and wildly popular, winning a People's Choice Award in 2006. 76 More importantly, Prison Break presents an excellent example of the recent evolution in portrayals of the trope of prison as a playground in modern television False convictions and cla ndestine escape plans dominate the show's main plot, while a constant barrage of violence and mayhem keeps viewers occupied as the story unfolds. The show's emphasis on illicit behavior was discussed in an article in USA Today which detailed "the raci sm, violence, and sexually predatory behavior" of the main character's "dysfunctional fellow prisoners." 77 As such, Prison Break provides a superb example of the modern television trope of prison as a playground. Prison Break is exactly what its title sugg ests, the story of a group of men who conspire to break out of prison. The main character is Michael Scofield, a wealthy businessman who inexplicably robs a bank one day. He subsequently gives himself up and swiftly makes a deal with prosecutors: he will plead guilty if he is allowed to serve his sentence at Fox River State Penitentiary. 78 Once Scofield is in the prison, the real plot begins to unfold. Michael has a brother who is also incarcerated in the prison, falsely convicted of murder and awaiting execution on Death Row. The show evolves as Michael's intricate plan to break both he and his brother out of the prison slowly comes
$% together. In the mean time, viewers are presented with an environment replete with st ereotypical prison characters, incl u ding a redeemed outlaw an obstinate lawma n, and a host of unrepentant villainous convicts. Michael Scofield is the story's redeemed outlaw, and like Les Mis ÂŽ rables's Jean Valjean, he seems doomed to remain ensnared in a correctional system that refuses t o release its firm hold on him He is convicted of a crime in which no one was injured, and his mo tives were noble if not valiant, therefore the audience sympathizes with him from the story's outset. The employees and the warden of the prison exude the s tereotypical obstinate lawman attitude, and like Les Mis ÂŽ rables's Javert, they refuse to consider the possibility of the outlaw's redemption The first season is set in Fox River State Penitentiary, a maximum security prison that epitomizes the trope of prison as a playground. Fox River is full of characters versed at manipulating the system for their own personal comfort, and at times the s etting seems more like a demented funhouse than a maximum security prison. Theodore Bagwell, or "T Bag," is a recalcitrant inmate who acts as one of the prominent antagonists in Prison Break He is a proud white supremacist, a flagrant sexual predator, and a convicted rapist murderer who is esteemed by a large following of other white supremacist s inside the prison. 79 Bagwell thrives in the prison environment and revels in his role as an unapologetic criminal flagrantly parading his macabre escapades be fore his fellow inmates and the guards For example, in the course of the first season alone, he perpetrates numerous sexual assaults on other inmates, incites a prison wide race riot, and eventually murders one of the guards to avoid disciplinary sanctio ns. 80 More than just a character inside of the prison, Bagwell, whose nickname
$& (T Bag) is also a euphemism for a sadistic sexual act, actually represents the trope of prison as a playground, and his debauchery is a reflection of the environment that the pr oducers wished to convey to the audience. He is an example of Kenneth Burke's "reduction, selection and deflection of reality," and his conduct paints the prison environment as a dangerous playground The representation of the prison environment through the sadistic actions of an inmate is not a new development in television and film production, and Bagwell is just one of the latest in a long line of cinematic characters who thrive in a restrictive pris on environment. In 1995, The Shawshank Redemption won a host of movie awards, and was praised by Film Critic Roger Ebert as a film that creates a warm hold on our feelings because it makes us a member of a family 81 In The Shawshank Redemption, Prison B reak's character of Bagwell is represented in inmate Boggs, the leader of a group of sexual predators known as "The Sisters." 82 The Sisters perpetrate sexual assaults and rapes on other inmates, and when the movie's narrator, Red, hears a potential victim of the Sisters ask, "I don't suppose it would help any if I explained to them that I'm not homosexual," he casually responds, "Neither are they. You have to be human first; they don't qualify." 83 The Sisters are a gang that thrives in the contained enviro nment of Shawshank Prison, and they are shown committing gang rapes and sexual assaults throughout the film. Their conduct appalls even the other inmates, as evidenced by Red's dehumanizing comment, yet their behavior continues with minimal interference. "The Sisters" manipulate the rules of the system in the contained spaces within the prison walls to create and utilize a p ower dynamic that leaves their v ictims at a severe disa dvantage: they make the prison their playground.
$' Two years after the release of The Shawshank Redemption, the cable television network HBO raised the bar on glamorized prison environments when it bega n airing episodes of the hyper violent prison series Oz. 84 Most of the episodes take place inside of a maximum security prison housing unit, and the cast is made up almost entirely of murderers, rapists, violent criminals, and colluding guards. The progra m frequently depicts scenes of violence, conspiracy, and prison rape, suggesting that these activities are prison norms rather than isolated incidents. The recipe for Oz appears to be a simple distillation of the shocking aspects in the trope of prison as a playground: remove the banal and mundane, leaving nothing but the violence, depravity and macabre. Author Elayne Rapping contends that the hyper violent depiction of the prison milieu in Oz "presents a vision of hell on earth in which inmates are so d epraved and vicious that no sane person could possibly think they should ever again be let loose upon society." 85 This is a perfect example of what Cheliotis referred to as "media representations [that] reinforce public perceptions of the overall essential ness of the prison institution and of the essentialness of its further growth and harshening." 86 Oz and Prison Break introduce audiences to a world that is alien to most and dangerous to all, giving viewers the impression that an hour of Prime Time televis ion represents a typical day in prison. But as Bill Yousman claims, Oz's purported realism' is therefore not only fictional, but fictional in ways that reproduce the worst stereotypes about prisons and prisoners." 87 In another article discussing the suc cess of Oz Yousman claims that the program falsely romanticizes the prison environment, offering audience members "a titillating glimpse of an alien, frightening world." 88 Transcending the accusation that Oz simply offers an unrealistic or exaggerated rep resentation of a typical prison environment,
$( Yousman chooses the word "titillating," hinting at the vicarious pleasure that accompanies the viewing of such sadistic portrayals of inmate misbehavior. Dawn Cecil echoed Yousman's fitting language, saying, "I t is Hollywood, after all; they do not necessarily seek to educate instead they aim to titillate." 89 Oz epitomizes the trope of prison as a playground, framing the correctional environment as an elaborate and ever exciting spectacle fraught with drugs, vio lence, and depraved entertain ment aspects that, while often present in the typical prison environment, are far from its premier characteristics. The trope of prison as a playground as demonstrated through Prison Break's Bagwell is expanded to comprise the entire group known as the Sisters in The Shawshank Redemption, and enlarged yet again to incorporate nearly the entire prison population (and some of the guards) in Oz. Whether the trope is represented through a single inmate or through the entire prison population makes no difference, for the purpose remains the same: reflect the demented and menacing trope of prison as a playground. Bagwell provides the starkest example of prison as a playground in Prison Break, but ma ny of the other inmates also aid in the creation of the environment. John Abruzzi is the leader of an Italian American mob family who is serving a life sentence for a number of crimes, including murder. Abruzzi's reputation and his wealth land him the co ziest job in the prison, and he continues to run his criminal operation during his time behind bars. He orders the murders of numerous enemies, has two of Scofield's toes cut off, and eventually chops Bagwell's hand off with an axe during an escape attemp t gone awry. 90 Abruzzi adds to the sense that prison is a twisted playground for those who have the right connection s : the rules that govern the behavior of most of the convicts do not seem to apply to him because of his mob ties On the contrary, at time s, Abruz z i seems
$) free to perpetrate nearly any act he wishes in the prison, as long as he does not leave the facility He frequently conspires with Officer Brad Bellick, a guard at Fox River who is repeatedly shown collecting money from inmates in exchang e for various illegal services. Bellick also reflects the trope of prison as a playground in his consistent clandestine manipulation of the system for personal gain. A "dirty" guard presents a particularly poignant addition to the trope of prison as a pl ayground, as even those in a position of authority operate on unscrupulous standards. The redeemed outlaw, Scofield, is perhaps the shrewdest example of an inmate who understands the prison to be a playground, and his character is presented as extremel y intelligent, astutely observant and always one step ahead of everyone else. In fact, Prison Break is constructed around Scofield's prior knowledge of the atmosphere of prison as a pla yground, and from the story's out set he seems prepared to utilize any advantage he can muster. For example, early into the series it is revealed that Scofield has a massive tattoo that covers his entire torso from his neck to his waist. The images are convoluted and abstract, including nu merous large, distorted ang els and demons locked in fierce battle, surrounded by archways and crisscrossing patterns. Later in the series viewers discover that the tattoo is in fact an elaborately concealed copy of the prison's blueprints, cleverly inter woven with intricate artwork to prevent its detection. 91 In other words, Scofield intentionally bra nded the prison's blueprints on to his body so that they could not be taken from him, and then he disguised them so that they would not be detected. Scofield 's manipulation of the t rope of prison as a playground gave him an advantage over his fellow inmates allowing him to manipulate the system and to make the prison into his playground.
$* The producers of Prison Break clearly realized the genius of using Scofi eld's body as a clandestine tool for gaining power in the playground of Fox River Penitentiary, and they took the idea further than the concealed prison blueprints. During one episode, Scofield decrypts a tattooed recipe for a strong corrosive that can be made with chemicals that are readily available in the prison, and then he uses the chemical to burn a hole through a pipe. 92 In another episode, Scofield uses a razor blade to slice into his forearm and remove a hidden pill, which he later delivers to his brother in a plot to forestall his execution. 93 Scofield's tattoo also holds a number of additional "keys" to the eventual prison break, including the make and model of a screwdriver needed to remove a prison toilet, the name of the streets that will be traveled during the escape, a contact's coded phone number, the passcode for a combination lock, and GPS coordinates for a sa fe house outside of the prison. 94 In fact, it could be argued that Scofield's tattoo constitutes its own representation of the t rope of prison as a playground; its continued ability to upset the power dynamic, tilting the scales in favor of the redeemed ou tl aw, is evidence of the producer s motive s to paint it as such. Without the tattoo, Scofield's plan would have been doomed to failure from its inception, but time and again, the redeemed outlaw's conce aled hand provided a path of escape that would have b een unavailable to other inmates without such information. Rather than painting the redeemed outlaw as a victim of the playground, such as was done in The Shawshank Redemption and American History X, Prison Break shows the redeemed outlaw using the trope of prison as a playground to his advantage. Scofield's ability to smuggle the information he needed into the prison, and to utilize it appropriately throughout the series, was all part of an ultimate plot to manipulate the rules of the prison as a playgro und.
$+ The Cushion of Comedy As the preceding section has shown, recent television portrayals of the trope of prison as a playground reflected through a recalcitrant convict have been distilled and sanitized to the level of pulp characterization. The succ ess of Oz demonstrates the ability of these dramatizations to entertain audiences, but as Oz's "Mature Audience" rating suggests, the characters that result from this process are often too violent and demented for a general audience to enjoy 95 But somethi ng strange happens when macabre subject matter is wrapped in a cushion of comedy, and suddenly the fear associated with an event, such as the shanking or raping of an inmate, becomes palatable. Sigmund Freud spoke of this power, which is inherent to comed y and wit, claiming that "the main character of wit making is to set free pleasure by removing inhibitions," a process which "affords us the means of surmounting restrictions and of opening up otherwise inaccessible pleasure sources." 96 The cushion of come dy allows modern television audiences to enjoy the taboo, while disabling any visceral emotions that may hinder the utilization of such "pleasure sources." An excellent example of this phenomenon is Bruce Helford's television comedy series Anger Management, which airs weekly on the basic cable television network, FX. 97 According to a review in Rolling Stone magazine, the show's first episode "drew a record breaking 5.47 million total viewers," making it "the most watched debut in FX history. 98 The show frequently follows counselor Charlie Goodson as he leads an anger management group inside of a prison. The prisoners who attend the group represent the glamorized trope of prison as a playground, and tales of sexual exploits, assaults, and ev en murders frequently dominate the treatment sessions. But the comical atmosphere of
%, the show allows viewers to experience joy rather than horror when an inmate confesses to a recent prison rape, assault, or murder. "Laugh tracks" are added when punch li nes are delivered, creating a strange ambivalence in which the viewer seems invited, even obliged to laugh along. In a recent episode, the prisoners take Charlie and another man hostage during a prison riot, yet even as the inmates explain that they may h ave to kill the men the cushion of comedy (and the laugh track) leaves the audience free from the worry that such a horrific scenario is likely to unfold. 99 Such presentations place a cushion of comfort between the viewer and the scene: the spectator know s that she is unlikely to be accosted by graphic violence despite the macabre dialogue, which often suggests otherwise. The 1996 prison comedy, Life, is another excellent example of the penitentiary wrapped in the cushion of comedy 100 Roger Ebert praised t he film, saying it is "a sentimental comedy with a backdrop of racism the movie is ribald, funny and sometimes sweet, and well acted by Murphy, Lawrence, and a strong supporting cast." 101 Like Anger Management the film adopts an overt ly comical tone, leaving the viewer protected by a constant bubble of comfort c oncerning the subject matter. As such, in a scene where a guard offers inmate Gibson his freedom if he shoots fellow inmate Banks, the viewer can rest assured that a murder is not about to tak e place. However, in a tense scene in The Shawshank Redemption when the despondent warden raises his pi stol as the authorities close in the somber atmosphere leaves viewers with no such assurance of safety, and the graphic suicide that ensues is hardly a surprise. 102 Similarly, i n inmate Gibson's (Eddie Murphy) famous "cornbread" diatribe in Life, where he responds to a large inmate's demand for his cornbread with threats of "consequences and
%# repercussions," the cushion of comedy protects the audience from the threat of retaliation, and this protection continues even as a comedic fight scene ensues. 103 A similar scene takes place in Cool Hand Luke, when Luke questions the autho rity of the largest inmate in his camp, leading to a fight that plays out nearly the same as in Life. Gibson and Luke both refuse to stop fighting even after they are obviously defeated, but the primary difference between the two fight scenes lies simply in the framing of the movie up to that point: the cushion of comedy assures the audience that Gibson is not likely to be seriously injured or killed, while the somber tone sustained in Cool Hand Luke makes it difficult to know how that fight will end. In 2006, Let's go to Prison presented the trope of prison as a playground, heavily cloaked in a cushion of comedy that frequently bordered on slapstick. 104 The thickly cushioned representation of the prison environment left producers free to explore themes su ch as violent assault, attempted murder, and even rape, while preserving an atmosphere designed to elicit joy rather than sorrow or empathy. A New York Times movie review reiterated this claim, suggesting that the movie "is actually a sly, very funny come dy, one that stays admirably deadpan every time you think it's about to veer into gross out territory." 105 At one point in the movie, a man sells his roommate to another man for sex, and when the unwitting victim is pulled from his cell by a gang of men and delivered to his "purchaser," it is strongly insinuated that a rape is about to take place. However, despite the distasteful subject matter, the following scene is packed with elements designed to elicit laughter from the audience rather than horror: a K ama Sutra sex position poster hangs on the cell wall where the rape is about to occur, the rapist offers his victim Merlot wine made "in the toilet," and rather than an actual rape, the scene ends
%$ with the two men rubbing noses in a harmless "Eskimo kiss." 106 In the next scene, the main character is stabbed in the leg with a fork, but his assailant quickly pulls the fork back out and continues to eat his meal with it. The film is packed with similar scenes depicting violence and sexual victimization, yet a s Sigmund Freud said, the cushion of comedy "affords us the means of surmounting [these] restrictions and of opening up otherwise inaccessible pleasure sources." 107 Rather than visceral abhorrence, rape and violence stimulate laughter; as Freud contends "W hen we laugh over a delicately obscene witticism, we laugh at the identical thing which causes laughter in the ill bred man when he hears a coarse, obscene joke." 108 Regardless of the comedic tone adopted, films and television shows that depict the trope of prison as a playground become "referential reality" to the viewer, reinforcing the importance and legitimacy of the archetypal obstinate lawman. 109 If prisons are filled with inmates that, as Rapping contends, are "so depraved and vicious that no sane pers on could possibly think they should ever again be let loose upon society," then the obstinate lawman is transformed into the story's lone hero. 110 In sum, the trope of prison as a playground flips the dynamic of the archetypal redeemed outlaw and obstinate lawman from Les Mis ÂŽ rables on its head. This juxtaposition paints the obstinate lawman as s ociety's savior the only person who is able to see through the fa Âade and recognize the truly "rotten apples" of society as the irredeemable outlaws that they are Reiterating Yousman's contention, "These brutalizing fictions suggest that the penal system is too lenient or soft that rehabilitation is impossible, that prisoners are dangerous creatures who require severe punishment, and that, ultimately, capital punishment is the only solution. 111
%% The Fresh Fish Fetish In the trope of prison as a playground, the cushion of comedy allows viewers to obtain pleasure f rom otherwise forbidden sources by cloaking the sadistic behavior of convicts in a safe, comical tone The opposite of the cushion of comedy could be described as the fresh fish fetish, a motif exemplified in scenes depicting new inmates arriving at a pri son, while old, tenured inmates threaten and cajole them from nearby. One of the most famous fresh fish movie scenes takes place in The Shawshank Redemption, when Andy and a group of inmates are unloaded from a transport bus that is surrounded on three sides by rowdy prisoners who are shaking and banging on the fences that restrain them. Inmates on the yard greet the n ewcomers with whistles, cheers and applause and the first audible phrase uttered is, "Hey fish, come on over here." 112 The situation becomes more volatile as Andy is marched past the cheering throng, and the veteran convicts begin making bets on which "fish" they can break down first. Later that night, when the lights turn off and the guards vacate the cellblock, a lo w, resonating voice sings, "Hey fish! Fish, fish, fishy you ain't scared of dying, is you?" Red (the film's narrator) explains the scene as it unfolds, saying, "The boys always go fishing with first timers, and they don't quit until they reel someon e in." 113 Shortly after the catcalls begin, one of the "fish" breaks down and begins to loudly cry out f or his mother, as an unseen voice proclaims, "We have a winner!" The scene comes to a dramatic conclusion with the entire cellblock chanting "fresh fish fresh fish, fresh fish," causing the guards to angrily return The cheers immediately stop when the officers reenter the area, but the silence is broken by the continued whimpering of the despondent inmate, who is still crying for his mother. When he c annot stop his
%& blubbering, the guards remove him from his cell and beat him to death with their nightsticks in full view of the rest of the cellblock. The scene elicits a visceral sense of abhorrence and confusion: abhorrence at the brutal beating of a ma n who is already crying out for his mother, and confusion at the baffling lang uage of the diatribe that causes him to break down in the first place As such, The Shawshank Redemption presents the prison environment not only as a physical threat, but also as an emotional and mental threat a place where it se ems that psychological breakdown at the hands of one's fellow inmates is a very real danger. A similar fresh fish theme is also poignantly presented in Animal Factory, a film that The New York Times columnist Elvis Mitchell said "deals with a dehumanization more insidious than the kind normally seen in prison movies more harrowing than most prison fare because institutional life is treated as quotidian, a norm to which most of the men have alrea dy adjusted." 114 In one scene in the film an inmate points out the story's redeemed outlaw to a veteran convict by saying, "The new guy over there h e's a fish, but he's alright." The veteran responds, "Is he a broad?" presumably inquiring whether or not the third inmate is homosexual and if he is available for sex 115 The term "fish" is employed here to emphasize the difference between the new inmate of whom little is know, and the veteran convict, who already has a reputation. The sexually charged response informs the viewer that the term "fish" indicates more than just an inmate's recent arrival, and implies that the new inmate is also inexperienced an d therefore a potential victim. Animal Factory follows the theme of the fresh fish fetish throu ghout the movie, and the plot revolves around a young convict who is taken under the wing of a veteran and protected from the typical dangers associated with being a
%' "fish As such, Animal Factory in its entirety, could be referred to as a fresh fish fi lm, rather than a movie that simply utilizes a fresh fish scene to allude to the danger that a new inmate typically faces. In another excellent example of the fresh fish fetish Blood in Blood Out, viewers follow redeemed outlaw Mikl o into San Quentin Sta te Prison. Roger Ebert described Blood in Blood Out as a brutal film that "shows a prison world where guards and officials essentially stand aside while prison gangs run the institution, distribute favors, make rules, and enforce their laws with violence. 116 The film first presents the fresh fish fetish as Miklo's transport bus pulls up to the main gate of the prison and a pair of guards on the overhead boardwalk are heard commenting, "Another fish tank in from L.A." 117 The bus enters the gate and drives past an expansive exercise yard packed with hundreds of inmates who all appear to be lifting weights, and one of them asks another, "What the fuck do we got here? Fucking fresh fish, can you believe this shit?" The ne w inmates exit the bus and the jeers begin immediately, with the majority of the sexual advances being directed at the young Miklo. A large, bearded inmate with a muscle clad shirtless friend yells, "Hey baby! Been a long time since I had a West Texas ba llroom bitch, how about you being my ol' lady," as another inmate grabs his crotch and says Mamacita look over here. I got something for you!" The jeers do not stop when the inmates enter the prison structure, and as Miklo walks to his cell for the fir st time, an unseen inmate shouts, "It smells like fish!" 118 This presentation creates an atmosphere where the new inmate is at a disadvantage inside the prison environment simply because he is new, and this threat frequently transcends vulgar jeers and shou ted sexual advances entering a realm that could be referred to as prison as sadism
%( Prison as Sadism Blood in Blood Out follows the fresh fish fetish beyond th e simple use of the pejorative and as Miklo explores the prison for the first time he is confronted by a group of men whose feminine behavior resembles the sexually aggressive actions of "The Sisters" from The Shawshank Redemption. As he passes their table, one of the men places a hand on Miklo's chest and says, Hola Pretty, are you blond all over?" Miklo responds angrily and slaps the man's hand away, but another man in the group grabs him firmly by the shirt. Before the confrontation can proceed any further, an inmate named Popeye notices a gang related tattoo on Miklo's hand and inter venes Popeye appears to be a pimp for the "prostitutes," and after he sends them away, he takes Miklo on a brief ye t harrowing tour of the prison In less than five minutes, Popeye makes it clear that the entire prison is divided into racial cliques, ex plaining, "It's the gangs that run this place," the Black Gorilla Army, The Arian Vanguard, and his own primarily Mexican La Onda : "We clique together for power, to protect ourselves." 119 Miklo who is a first time inmate, is thereby placed in a setting rep lete with threats of physical violence and sexual predatory behavior, surrounded by inmates who all seem either to want to fi ght him or to have sex with him. The aggressive dialog continues as Miklo and Popeye walk through a prison dayroom and predatory b ehavior permeates the scene in an abundance that transcends the presentation of prison as a playground. Miklo seems caught off guard at the sexual advances from the prostitutes, and he seems oblivious to the fact that the man who sends them away is their pimp. As he follows his guide through the dayroom, an inmate who Popeye is indebted to suggests "Maybe you would like to swap for some of that tender,
%) white meat. You can pay your bets with that," suggesting that fresh fish Miklo can be traded as a sex slave. 120 Miklo and Popeye leave the dayroom and head to the housing unit, where their initial encounter ends with ye t another violent sexual act As Miklo turns to enter his cell, Popeye springs a trap and attacks him with a knife, yelling "You white bit ch, give me some chum chum. A brutal fight ensues in which Miklo is stabbed, and Popeye seems to have the upper hand; the rape is only halted when the leader of a prominent prison gang intervenes. Despite the failed rape attempt in just his first day i n prison, Miklo is roughly accosted by a group of feminine prostitutes, stabbed by a sex crazed rapist, introduced to three large prison gangs, and propositioned with employment as a n (unwilling) sex slave. This hyper sexualized behavior is what Eigenberg and Baro derided, stating that movies that sensationalize male rape in prison may actually contribute to a social structure that has come to accept, perhaps even endorse, that rape is part and parcel of the incarceration experience. 121 -The reprehensible behavior of the prisoners in Blood in Blood Out continues to produce an atmosphere of prison as sadism, and as Miklo endeavors to exchange the label of "fish" for that of veteran convict, he must move from the role of victim to that of perpetrator. For e xample, in one scene, acting on the orders of a prison gang leader, Miklo lures another man into a storage room with an offer of oral sex, only to spring a trap and brutally stab him to death. The constant barrage of graphic violence and sexual assault directed at the new "fish" from nearly every inmate he encounters makes it seem as if these activities are a normal part of the prison experience, and as Elayne Rapping contends, "p resents a vision of hell on earth in which inmates are so depraved and vicious that no sane person could possibly think they should ever again be let loose upon
%* society." 122 The prison industrial complex thrives on such depictions of Rapping's "hell on eart h," reinforcing Cheliotis' claim that, "Rather than undermining the external legitimacy of prisons media representations reinforce public perceptions of the overall essentialness of the prison institution and of the essentialness of its further growt h and harshening." 123 Blood in Blood Out, along with an entire genre of prison movies that depict the behavior of inmates as sadistic and unrepentant, transcend s the trope of prison as a playground and enter s the realm of prison as sadism. Rather than exp osing the bad behavior of the few, these representations suggest that everyone who goes to prison is likely to be subjected to confusing and dangerous situations in which sadistic inmates will take advantage of them, often for no discernable reason. The o nly way for a "fish" to avoid or to halt the abuse he is certain to sustain at the hands of his tormentor(s) is to become a tormentor himself: to personify the hell on earth in which inmates are so depraved and vicious that no sane person could possibly t hink they should ever again be let loose upon society." 124 As such, representations that paint the prison setting as a playground, or worse, as pure sadism, leave the viewer with a sense of relief that the vicious monsters depicted are contained inside of a prison. As this examination of the trope of prison as a playground has shown, ti tillating cinematic accounts of prison produce a "referential reality" which the audience is enticed to accept in the absence of any additional information. This process leaves the viewer with a skewed perception of life behind bars, and Yousman's description of "creatures [who] are so unlike us, so alien and dangerous" becomes a reality in w hich "we must become even more punitive, even more repressive in our approach to criminal justice." 125
%+ Whether the representations are brutally sadistic, or cloaked in the cushion of comedy these c inematic accounts of the spectacle of punishment reinforce society's belief that massive correctional institutions and increasingly severe criminal sanctions are a vital part of a well managed and growing social apparatus As such, cinematic representation s of the trope of prison as a playground encourage the tac it approval of the continued expansion and harshening of the prison industrial complex.
&, CHAPTER III PRISON AS PENANCE As briefly discussed in Chapter One the trope of prison as penance paints the penitentiary as a dangerous but necessary repository for society's recalcitrant rule breakers. In dealing with such irredeemable villains the penite ntiary has but a single purpose: the mending out of righteous and justified punishment By fi lling the prison with guilty yet unrepentant characters many who seem entirely incapable of ever being reformed, the trope of prison as penance emphasizes the necessity of prison as a tool of punishment C inematic accounts replete with such characters encourages audience members to support the legitimacy of the prison industrial complex by implying that it is a necessary part of a healthy society thereby reinfo rcing Yousman's contention that "brutal state practices are therefore legitimated through nar ratives that frame the punitive treatment of prisoners as both necessary and deserved." 126 In other words, the trope of prison as penance paint s the penitentiary as an indispensable and irreplaceable ins trument of punishment and as the only place where soc iety can house its irredeemable convicts in the name of dispensing justice while protecting the general public. As I have already shown, b est selling a uthor Stephen King has proven especially adept in the creation of fictional prison narratives for what Adorno and Horkheimer called "aesthetic mass consumption." 127 In a recent Chicago Tribune article journalist Julia Keller praised King's uncanny "ability to create, time and again, stories that adhere themselves to the inside of the reader's mind like some vicious, twisted Velcro." 128 In 1995, as previously discussed, King teamed up with director Frank Darabont to create The Shawshank Redemption, a film that shocked audiences with the trope of prison as a
playground, represented in part by "The Sisters" and the system that permitted their predatory activities King's success stems in part from the fact that he does not restrict his prison representations to a single trope, and in The Shawshank Redemption audiences also see an excellent example of the trope of prison as penance in the actions of the film's narrator, Red. 129 As the movie unfolds, a theme emer ges in which nearly every prisoner at Shawshank seems patently unwilling to admit his guilt. Red exposes this regularity when he asks fellow convict, Andy, why he killed his wife, and Andy responds by claiming that he is innocent. Red declares with a chuckle, "You are going to fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent, you know that?" He then yells to another convict across the yard, "Hayward, what you in here for?" and is rewarded with the response, "I'm innocent. My lawyer fucked me." 130 This snippet of dialog highlights the necessity of Shawshank Prison's objective punitive stance: everyone sent to Shawshank Prison must receive the same harsh trea tment and be required to follow the same regimen, regardless of any subjective circumstances (such as professed innocence). The trope of prison as penance requires the penitentiary to be a machine of punishment, and this machine must operate with equal br utality on each and every one of its subjects. L ike its faithful companion the obstinate lawman, the machine of punishment lacks the capacity for recognizing innocence or redemption in the outlaw. A cinematic portrayal of an entire prison packed with co nvicts who all refuse to admit their guilt, and by proxy, to recognize the legitimacy of the puni tive sanctions placed upon them cunningly advoca tes for the necessity of prison as penance for recalcitrant criminals. As Cheliotis said, these "media repres entations reinforce public perceptions of the overall essentialness of the prison institution and of the essentialness of
&$ its further growth and harshening," for if the outlaw refuses to even admit his guilt, he can never begin to seek redemption for his c rime. 131 The universal feigned innocence claimed by nearly every character in The Shawshank Redemption leaves the guards and prison officials portrayed in the film with no option except to disregard the outlaw's individuality and to instead assume that every prisoner is the same, guilty a nd recalcitrant. Red is the so l e exception to the norm of denial, and he readily admits his guilt to the viewer, to the parole board, and even to his fellow cons, at one point joking that he is the "only guilty man in S hawshank." 132 With his confession Red becomes one of Les Mis ÂŽ rables's redeemed outlaw s as, according to Nelllis, he "experiences guilt and takes responsibility," rather than joining the ranks of the majority, who continue to stubbornly profess their innoc ence. 133 The trope of prison as penance reveals the necessity of the obstinate lawman's impartially harsh treatment of the redeemed outlaw Because the entire population of Shawshank Prison claims to be innocent, none of them can be considered innocent; rather, as far as the obstinate lawman is concerned, every man must be guilty of his crime. When the redeemed outlaw is found to be differe nt than his cohort when one of the multitude decrying a false conviction is found to be telling the truth the obstinate lawman breaks down, as seen in Javert's suicide, Cool Hand Luke's murder, and the W arden from Escape from Alcatraz who symbolically thr ows the escapee's chrysanthemum into the ocean. The obstinate lawman lacks the ability to expect or to recognize anything other than stereotypical recalcitrant behavior in the redeemed outlaw. This lack of flexibility is seen in another scene in The Shaw shank Redemption when a new convict arrives at the pris on and reveals evidence to the W arden (and to the viewer)
&% that will likely result in the acquittal of the redeemed outlaw, Andy In an obstinate act of "obtuseness," the warden first turns a deaf ear to the evidence, and then locks Andy in "the hole" for sixty days while he has the witness murdered. 134 The system is not equipped to deal with an inmate who does not fit the typical pattern and the pattern of Shawshank Prison rejects the very poss ibility of a false conviction. As such, the fictional setting of Shawshank Prison presents an excellent example of two separate tropes of the prison setting, prison as a playground and prison as penance yet both representations serve to emphasize the nec essity of the continued expansion and harshening of the prison industrial complex. King and Darabont hit gold again in 1999, when Warner Brothers released The Green Mile, a film that Roger Ebert said "has detail and space it tells a story with a beg inning, middle, end, vivid characters, humor, outrage and emotional release. Dickensian." 135 King builds the story around the epitome of penance: the state's official duty in procuring the ultimate recompense, life, from Death Row inmates The Green Mile's redeemed outlaw is inmate John Coffey, an extremely large, mentally disabled man whose murder conviction is almost certainly false. Officer Percy Wetmore, a prison guard who obtained his job on Death Row from his Uncle, the State Governor, is the s tory's obstinate lawman. Wetmore's inhumane treatment of the inmates is his defining characteristic, and throughout the film he consistently abuses and tortures his charges: he intentionally breaks an inmate's fingers with his nightstick, he crushes an in mate's pet mouse and he causes a prisoner to painfully burn to death during an official execution. Wetmore's sadistic behavior is always aimed at a character who is sentenced to death, and he clearly draws a distinction between his fellow guards, who he typically treats with
&& obligatory respect, and the Death Row inmates, who he incessantly and mercilessly torments. In the trope of prison as a playground, the reprehensible actions of inmates are aimed at some sort of incentive : The Sisters" at Shawshank want s ex, Schofield and "T Bag" want to escape, and the prisoners in Oz are typically seeking drugs, sex, money, or power. But Wetmore actions are coldly disconnected from any sort of palpable reward, and instead, he appears to obtain pleasure simply from inflicting physical and psychological pain on others. Even Wetmore's assignment to Death Row suggests a morbid predisposition, for his nepotistic ties allowed him any assig nment in the S tate, yet he chose the one that was sure to expose him to suffering and death. This ambiguity of motive s leaves viewers with the impression that Wetmore is simply a demented sadist who revels in the agony of others, and as such, a Death Row cellblock may be the best place for him ; otherwise, he may release his sinister ac tions on an innocent society This representation of prison as sadism is different from that discus sed in Chapter Two for when the sadistic actions come from a prison official, it is implied that, in the name of punishment, Death Row inmates are acceptab le targets for torture. The Green Mile is reminiscent of The Shawshank Redemption in its presentation of prison as a playground through the character of "Wild" Bill Wharton, an inmate who consistently manipulates the guards and his fellow prisoners in an effort to instigate excitement in the otherwise banal environment. Wha rton enters the story as a new Death R ow inmate who pretends to be overmedicated during his transport only to spring an assault on the unsuspecting guards as soon as they arrive on De ath Row. He revels in the system that will eventually take his life, consistently creating chaos in the otherwise calm
&' environment of the cellblock. 136 For example, whe n the lights dim one night during the execution of a fellow inmate, Wharton's behavior r eaches a dramatic climax ; as the other inmates silently morn the death of one of their own, Wharton screams and swings wildly from the bars of his cell, loudly banging on the walls and chanting, "He's frying now!" 137 Even as the prison offers him a glimpse of his own eventual fate, Wharton refuses to show any hint of regret, trepidation, or anger, instead exhibiting an inexplicable, stubborn mania that creates an atmosphere similar to a playground: he revels in the excitement of his own eventual demise A s my examination of The Shawshank Redemption has already shown, King does not restrict his portrayal s of the prison setting to a single archetypal representation. In The Green Mile, his portrayal of prison as a playground is limited to the single c haracter of "Wild" Bill Wharton, but King also emphasized the trope of prison as penance in his portrayal of the other characters and of the prison setting itself. For example, t hree official executions are carri ed out in the movie, resulting in the death of the falsely convicted John Coffey, as well as two guilty inmates who are paying the ultimate penance for their crimes. In fact, King and Darabont portray the trope of prison as penance through the feigned innocence of ever y inmate in Shawshank Prison and the ultimate penance required of the inmates in The Green Mile. In so doing, they construct the prison settings through the actions of its characters in the same way that the producers of Oz and Prison Break portray the trope of prison as a playground through the actions of "T Bag" B agwell and mafia boss Abruzzi. The inmates in these dramas are more than just characters inside of a prison; rather, they play a vital role in the construction of the prison, for without them the penitentiary would be nothing more than an empty zoo.
&( Torture as Punishment The same technique for the creation of prison as penance is frequently displayed in modern prison films, usually when the redeemed outlaw is incarcerated for a crime he c learly committed For instance in American History X, the redeemed outlaw (Vinyard) brutally kills two young African American men who he catches breaking into his car, and his subsequent trip to prison is well deserved punishment for his racially motivated crime. 138 Once Vinyard gets to prison, the atmosphere rapidly evolves from a simple depiction of prison as penance to an extreme ex ample of prison as a playground. In a pivotal scene that exemplifies this shift Vinyard is gang raped by his fello w white supremacists in retaliation for befriending an African American inmate The brutal attack causes Vinyard to question, and eventually to discard his prior racist belief system. While the concept of justified punishment (for murder) provides the ba s is for Vinyard's incarceration, as Eigenberg and Baro posit, American History X also uses rape as a central theme to motivate major change in the main character," and it is clear to the viewer that the rape rather than his incarceration causes Vinyard to become disillusioned with his radical views. 139 M ore importantly, as Eigenberg and Baro go on to say, American History X and other "movies that sensationalize male rape in prison may actually contribute to a social structure that has come to accept, per haps even endorse, that rape is part and parcel of the incarceration experience. 140 Rather than pure disgust and abhorrence, viewers of American History X must consider whether the brutal sexual assault that Vinyard sustained was, in the end, a good thing, for it seems to have played a pertinent role in initiating his drastic change of heart. In other words, viewers of American History X are not only led to believe that gang rape in pris on is a regular
&) occurrence, they are also tempted to accept the idea t hat rape and the threat of rape constitute a vital and necessary component of the criminal justice system Eigenberg and Baro express their disgust in this regard, stating, "it is abhorrent to think that we live in a society that views rape in prison as a form of deterrence, but the deconst ruction of these films suggests there is no general outrage that men are imprisoned in insti tutions where they are not safe from either the threat or the reality of sexual assault." 141 C inematic representations of the t rope of prison as penance that focus on abuse sustained a t the hands of prisoners suggest that prison is an environment where the convicts are as much a part of the punishment machine as the guards. When the depiction of a violent, prison gang rape is shown to "punish" a prisoner enough to initiate a heartfelt quest for redemption the viewer is tempted not only to as sume that such representations are accurate, but also, and more importantly, that such an envi ronment is justified. In other words, the single inmate initiated punishment of gang rape was more effective than the entire prison sentence Vinyard had served up to that point, for, until he was raped, Vinyard had never so much as questioned his principles When a brutal rape is depicted as a n effe ctive and rational method of punishment the viewer's tacit endorsement of a har shening prison environment is casually yet horribly reinforced American History X is not the only film to include scenes of inmate initiated punishment in prison nor is it the first to depict such punishment in a graphic manner. I n 1977, Short Eyes tol d the fictional story of Clark Davis, a man who finds himself in jail awaiting trial on charges of raping a little girl. 142 The New York Times said that the story's main character stands out "as the victim of victims, but also because he gives a performance so intimate it's almost painful to watch." 143 In the film, Davis tells another
&* inmate that he does not remember committing the crime he is accused of, but he admits that he has perpetrated a number of si milar crimes against children crimes that were never brought to the attention of the authorities. In a macabre twist of the trope of prison as penance Davis is likely to be released based on shoddy evidence, but his fellow inmates (the film's archetypal obstinate lawmen) take matters into their own hands and mend out an arbitrary sentence of death. In a gruesome finale, the inmates bind Davis and plac e him on top of a table in the middle of the cellblock Despite his pleas for mercy, his throat is brutally cut from ear to ear and he bleeds to death as his fellow convicts stand by watching The trope of prison as penance is epitomized in the actions of the prisoners, who act as agents of the punishment machine to enforce retribution where the system is in capable. At the movie s conclusion the viewer must consider which is the worst of two evil s, releasing an unrepentant child molester back into the community to (presumably) reoffend, or endorsing the brutal, unsanctioned execution of a man who has been convicted of no crime. As seen in both American History X and Short Eyes, the trope of prison as penance can leave audience members with a sense that inmate initiated rape and murder are acceptable methods of punishment or at the very least, extreme options for especially difficult cases As Yousman so aptly contended, "These brutalizing fictions suggest that the penal system is too lenient or soft [that] even more policing and surveillance is necessary, even more prisons, even harsher prison environments and sentencing policies; this is all deemed necessary by these narratives of terror 144 The concept of inmates as substitute lawmen who are r eady to step in when the official lawman is unable to perform his duty has also been adapted to numerous other
&+ prison narratives some of which present the redeemed outlaw as such a likeable and trustworthy character that he seems to slip seamlessly into t he role of the auxiliary lawman. One such movie, Con Air tells the story of Cameron Poe, an archetypal redeemed outlaw who the audience immediately sympathizes with because his crime was a justifiable homicide. 145 The New York Times film critic Janet Maslin described the main character's likability, stating, "Cameron Poe: he's our hero he loves his family. He protects women. He sounds like Elvis He must be a really nice guy." 146 In the film, Poe returns home from war a decorated veteran, b ut when three men attack his pregnant wife and him one night as they leave a restaurant he incidentally kills one of the attackers in self defense. A conviction of involuntary manslaughter lands him in prison for seven years, where he finds himself surro unded by a group of men who exemplify the trope of prison as a playground. But Poe himself reflects the trope of prison as penance and his consistently calm demeanor assures viewers tha t he poses no danger to society and that the only reason he is in pri son is to serve out his punishment. The viewer does not expect Poe to exhibit a change of heart or to embrace a more benevolent belief system, for he simply defended his family when they were attacked, an action that demands no redemption Although it ca nnot be said that Poe is falsely convicted, the viewer sympathizes with him for the same reason that they feel sorry for Andy in The Shawshank Redemption : despite their seemingly obvious "guilt," both characters are victims of circumstances beyond their co ntrol. Con Air unfolds as a group of violent convicts, along with the recently paroled Poe, are loaded aboard a prison transport airplane. An escape plan is already in mo tion, and shortly after takeoff the convicts, who know nothing of Poe's recently g ranted
', parole, overtake the guards and assume control of the plane. The obstinate lawman in Con Air is U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin, who is dedicated to hunting down and recapturing the escaped convicts at any cost. In a strange plot twist, Poe and Larkin (the redeemed outlaw and the obstinate lawman) end up working together to catch the rest of the escaped convicts, who all exude the trope of prison as a playground. In the end of the movie, the one man who represents the trope of prison as penance Poe, overcomes the multitude of men who represent the trope of prison as a playground. This narrative of the trope of prison as penance overcoming the trope of prison as a playground reinforces the belief that, as Rapping contends, "inmates are so depra ved and vicious that no sane person could possibly think they should ever again be let loose upon society," not even one of the ir fellow inmate s 147 In other words, in Con Air, the stereotypical characters are so patently irredeemable that one of their own teams up with the authorities to make sure that punishment is served, and that none of them escape to wreak havoc on society Travis Dixon reveals the underlying issue with such narratives, stating, "stereotypes tend to be both self fulfilling and self pe rp etuating precisely because they help us to explain the world." 148 When trying to explain the hidden world of prison, the stereotypical convicts from Con Air constitute an unre presentative sample, since, as one character explains early on in the film, the hijacked flight is transporting "the worst of the worst these guys are pure predators, each and every one of them." 149 When the stereotypes that "help us to explain the world" are based on the "worst of the worst," Dixon's prediction of self fulfillme nt becomes a frightening notion. In 1993, the previously mentioned Bl ood in Blood Out told the story of redeemed outlaw Miklo, a young gang member who is sent to San Quentin Prison after being
'# involved in the shooting of a local rival. The movie was heral ded by The New York Times as a film that "takes on real heft as it follows Miklo's cool, brutal rise through the prison's Chicano power structure to become a figure of dark political importance." 150 The film's obstinate lawman, Paco, begins the story as Miklo's friend, but when they are both arrested for a shooting and Miklo is sent to prison, Paco manages to avoid jail by signing up for the military In a dramatic scene later in the movie, Paco, w ho has become a police officer, shoots Miklo during an attempted robbery. The injury leads to the amputation of Miklo's leg, and he is subsequently returned to San Quentin to serve another prison sentence. 151 Miklo presents an excellent example of an arche typal redeemed outlaw who is unwilling or unable to fully embrace the concept of redemption, and his recidivism prevents the viewer from feeling overly sympathetic to his plight, which is seen as a result of his continued bad behavior. This aids in the cr eation of the trope of prison as penance since Miklo is clearly guilty of numerous crimes But the producers go further in their emphasis on punishment, cleverly inserting the epitome of the trope of prison as penance represented in a recurring characte r th at I will hereafter refer to as the Dead Man Walking. Dead Man Walking The idea of the ultimate recompense through the taking of a life as punishment for a crime is not a new development in film, and I have already touched on the importance of such r epresentations, such as was seen in The Green Mile. Examining the trope of prison as penance reveals the power of a Dead Man Walking scene in a prison movie, as it serves to pinpoint the extreme limit of what the punitive machine is capable of procuring. In Blood in Blood Out the prison setting is por trayed as a dangerous spectacle
'$ dominated by the threat of physical violence and sexual assault: an excellent example of the trope of prison as a playground. But the fact that the story's redeemed outlaw is patently guilty of numerous crimes, and the consistent recalcitrance of the other inmate s wh o occupy the prison, create a sense that the punitive prison is a necessary institution of punishment. The producers of Blood in Blood Out attempted to emphasize the concept of penance in one of the first scenes to take place inside of the prison. In th e scene, Miklo is being shown around the recreation yard when a pair of guards suddenly appear, one escorting a shackled inmate while the other repeatedly announces, "Dead man walking." 152 The death row inmate plays no further role in the movie; he is inclu ded simply to highlight the punitive nature of the prison setting, and to symbolize the ability of the punitive machine to procure, if necessary, the ultimate recompense through the taking of a life as punishment for a crime. Such representations sug gest that the character of the Dead Man Walking is as much a necessary part of the punitive machine as any other part of it, or, as Yo usman suggests, "that prisoners are dangerous creatures who require severe punishment, and that, ultimately, capital punishment is the only solution." 153 If this is the case, the n the constant growth and harshening of the prison system must continue to include a provision for the ultimate recompense by way of capital punishment In The Shawshank Redemption, the theme of capital p unishment is emphasized in a statement by Red, when he says, "they send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take." 154 Although The Shawshank Redemption does not include any scenes depicting death ro w inmates, the producers manage to conjure the theme of a system
'% capable of exacting the ultimate penance in the actions of Brooks an inmate who is released on parole Brooks has spent most of his life behind bars, and when he is released, he is unable to adapt to life outside of the prison walls. Despondent at his institutionalization he writes a long letter to his still incarcerated friends and then commits suicide demonstrating the inescapable power of prison as penance to exact the ultimate recompense of life. Brook s 's friends, who are still incarcerated, listen as his suicide note is read aloud, and the point of the scene seems to be encapsulated by Red's claim that "they send you here for life, an d that's exactly what they take, a statement which resonates with Yousman's contention that ultimately, capital punishment is the only solution." 155 B rooks shows no emotion as he composes his goodbye letter and then hangs himself, and his friends in prison, although saddened, are not at all surprised at his fate; the atmosphere ma kes it seem as if Brooks's death was simply a forgone conclusion an eventuality that could not possibly have been avoided The inmates' casual acceptance of their friend's demise entices the viewer to feel the same way, as if death or suicide is the unavoidable culmination of a life that has been squandered behind bars. Other films have been even more poignant in depicting inmates who accept or embrace their eventual fate at the hands of the prison system, leading up to and including state order ed execution One such film, Monster's Ball was praised by A. O. Scott as "one of those rare movies in which even people glimpsed only for a moment or two seem to have lives that ramify beyond the screen, as if the story were being witnessed rather than dramatized." 156 The story's redeemed outlaw is Lawrence Musgrove, a death row inmate who seeks redemption through trying to help his family prepare for his death.
'& Musgrove is executed early into the film, and he exemplifies the trope of prison as penance i n an emotional scene where he says goodbye to his wife and son. When Musgrove's adolescent son asks, "I'm not going to see you again after this? Why not?" Musgrove responds, "Because I'm a bad man but you know something? You aint me." 157 His final words to his wife are, "For every time I hurt you, I'm sorry," and with that he silently walks away from her for the last time. Musgrove is an archetypal redeemed outlaw who is resigned to the trope of prison as penance and his ability to face his circum stances with calm acceptance presents a picture of prison in which even the criminal awaiting execution is amicable to the system that orders his death. 158 The gut wrenching scenes that lead up to Musgrove's execution reiterate the fact that, although he do es not want to die, he has embraced the finality of his situation: when asked if he has any last words, he simply says, "push the button." 159 Such cinematic portrayals of the ultimate recompense of death provide an example of the process by which, as Yousman said, "Brutal state practices are therefore legitimated through narratives that frame the punitive treatment of prisoners as both necessa ry and deserved." 160 When even the man who is sentenced to death feels that his punishment is "necessary and deserved," the viewer is left to either join his side, or to stand against him alone. I n Con Air, the Dead Man Walking is Cyrus "The Virus" Grisso m, a character who se personality stands in stark contrast to the calm acquiescence of Musgrove from Monster's Ball Cyrus is one of the "worst of the worst," and he must be chained up and locked in an individual cage while onboard the plane. His convicti ons include kidnapping, robbery, extortion, escape, inciting a riot, and eleven inmate murders, and as the film's obstinate lawman says of him, "He likes to brag that he has killed more men
'' than cancer. Cyrus is a poster child for the criminally insane, a true product of the system." 161 Where the redeemed outlaw in Monster's Ball exhibits a submissive and regretful acceptance of his fate, Cyrus's character seems to repres ent Musgrove's rebellious polar opposite. For example, o nce Cyrus and his fellow convi cts assume control of the plane a number of violent assaults and murders rapidly ensue. The resulting presentation creates yet another of Rapping's characters that are "so depraved and vicious that no sane person could possibly think they should ever aga in be let loose upon society," while reinforcing the viewer's perception that prisons are full of people like Cyrus. 162 Reiterating Yousman, "If this is the case, if these creatures are so unlike us, so alien and dangerous, then we must become even more pun itive, even more repressive in our approach to criminal justice ." 163 Similarly, i n The Green Mile, the Dead Man Walking theme is exemplified in the actions of the sadistic obstinate lawman, Percy Wetmore, when he walks the newly arrived John Coffey past the other death row inmates chanting, "Dead man walking. We got a dead man walking here." 164 Wetmore continues to exude a punitive attitude in his behavior toward the inmates throughout the film, and he consistently torments and abuses th em up to and even during their executions. In a climactic scene that exemplifies Wetmore's desire to see as much punishment as possible mended out to his charges, he intentionally fails to wet the sponge that is placed atop a prisoner's head during electr ocution to ensure a swift death The oversight causes the execu tion to take much longer than normal and for more than three minutes the tortured inmate flails and struggles against his restraints, only dying after he finally catches on fire Wetmore seem s disgusted at the result of his actions, but when he tries to avert his eyes from the
'( spectacle his superior officer forces him to watch the horrible death that he has caused, cleverly reflecting the trope of prison as penance back onto the obstinate law man. The three minute electrocution scene is by far the most brutal execution depicted in The Green Mile but two additional state ordered deaths warrants are carried out during the movie. Each time an inmate is to be executed, a "trustee" acts as a stand in while the staff repetitively walks through the execution from start to finish. This repeated exposure to the process leading up to an inmate's death causes the situation to seem casual and ordinary, as if the execution of a man is just one more cog in the expansive wheel of justice, no more significant than any other. In fact, at one point during a n execution rehearsal, the guards begin to uncontrollably laugh at a dirty joke that the stand in inmate tells, failing to maintain their composure as they prepare to put a man to death. 165 The casual manner in which the men go about preparing to perform their official duty leaves viewers with the impression that the ki lling of a man is just business as usual, reinforcing the belief that prisons are full of in dividuals who are destined to the same eventual fate : death at the hands of the state In her book, A Report on the Banality of Evil : Eichmann in Jerusalem Hannah Ardent explains the ca lloused groupthink mentality of German Nazi Colonel Eichmann and his fellow commanders who organized and participated in the atr ocities of the Holocaust. Commenting on the ability of Nazi officers to join in such barbaric brutalities Ardent posits, t he trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, t erribly and terrifyingly normal. 166 Ardent goes on to describe how by surrounding himself with individuals who were devot ed supporters of the Nazi regime Eichmann
') committ ed "crimes under circumstances that make it well nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong." 167 Eichmann and his men were simply following orders and as such, they neither questioned the motives nor the integrity of their superiors : they simply carried their orders out to the best of their abilities with emotionless and unquestioning dedication. In this regard, the guards depicted joking during the execution re hearsal exude an attitude in line with Ardent's "Banality of Evil," for m uch like Eichman n and his henchmen, the Death Row guards are simply carrying out the orders of their super iors with blind indifference supported by the similar loyalty of their cohort Ardent's business as usual theme, exemplified by prison guards who a re just following orders, creates an atmosphere in which prison officials are involuntary instruments of penal authority, up to and including the implementation of the death penalty One film that explores the banality of business as usual, Tim Robbins's Dead Man Walking was described by the Los Angeles Times as a movie that examines "capital punishment with as much dispassion as possible, trusting in the power of events to engage us without the aid of over dramatization." 168 The film follows Death Row inm ate Matthew Poncelet through the months leading up to his execution for murder and rape, and the prison guards are consistently depicted as unemotional participants who are simply performing their official duty. 169 For example, in Matthew's final visit with his fa mily which is conducted in a small room as six guards silently stand around the perimeter, a camera shot out the window reveals another group of guards walking one of their own in circles, apparently practicing the proper way to escort Matthew. As his final vis it comes to a close, the same guards enter the room and take up the same positions
'* around Matthew, as one firmly orders, "Up on your feet," and another tells the family, "Y ou can say your goodbyes now." The guards in the room, n ow numbering nearly a dozen, are cold, dispassionate, and authoritative and their composure remains even as they force Matthew to bid a final farewell to his family. In any other setting, a gang of armed men who force a man to say goodbye to his famil y b efore they kill him would appear to be heartless and sadistic monsters, but these men are just doing their job. Shortly after Matthew returns to his cell, the w arden coldly informs him that the federal appeals court his final hope for survival has turned him down, further illustrating the indifference required to act out the official duties associated with capital punishment. Dead Man Walking represents the trope of prison as penance leading up to and throughout Matthew's execution, and the guards are cons istently depicted as unemotional machines who are only following the orders of their superiors. Taking this line of reasoning a step further, the robot like behavior of the guards is simply a component of the larger machine of justice, and as such, their actions are not questionable, since they are just following orders Rather, the guards are all simply cogs in a wheel, and each cog must serve its purpose or be immediately replaced if the machine of punishment is to continue to operate effectively. In t he conclusion of Dead Man Walking, the machine is ultimately shown to be operational when Matthew finally gives in and confesses his guilt at the proverbial eleventh hour. Just before he is taken to the execution room, Matthew tells his religious advisor that he was much more i nvolved in the crime s than he has before admitted. As he confesses a flashback scene depicts the brutal rape and murder committed at the hands of this evil man, and the viewer is provided with the justification for the execution th at is about to occur. In placing the confession directly before the
'+ execution, Dead Man Walking portrays the death penalty as an effective and necessary tool o f justice. Matthew's execution is not only justifie d, but the death sentence serves the dual pu rpose of punishment and closure: punishment by way of death, and closure by way of eliciting a confession that seemed unobtainable via any other method This strange cinematic construction of an effective, punitive machine of justice further endorses the belief that the prison industrial complex and its ultimate tool of penance, capital punishment, are effective and vital instruments for ensuring social order. As this examination of the trope of prison as penance has shown, cinematic representations that paint the prison environment as a necessary tool of justice reinforce the belief that prisoners are recalcitrant, irredeemable monsters who must be punished and contained for the greater good of society. When tha t punishment is at the hands of prisoners rather than the prison, the trope of prison as penance takes a dangerous turn into cloudy waters where gang rape and group murder appear as acceptable means to an end. At the far end of the punitive spectrum, t he procuring of the ultimate recompense, death, is the most extreme example of the trope of prison as penance When capital punishment is shown to serve the dual purposes of punishment and closure through a last minute confession that seems to be elicited by the imminent imposition of the sentence the punitive machine is yet again glorified. As such, the elements included in a portrayal of a Dead Man Walking scene serve to reiterate the punitive nature of the prison industrial complex, tacitly convincing vi ewers that in Yousman's words "ultimately, capital punishment is the only solution." 170
(, CHAPTER IV PRISON AS A PARADOX In 1967, Cool Hand Luke introduced viewers to one of America's favorite archetypal redeemed outlaws, Luke, a decorated war veteran who is sent to prison for destruction of public property The New York Times calls Luke a character who "has never been so forcefully revealed as a victim not only of the brutality and sadistic discipline of his captors, but also and this is most importan t of the indirect cruelty that comes from the idolization in the eyes of his fellow prisoners and, finally, of himself." 171 This somewhat confusing description of "cruelty that com es from idolization" provides an excellent example of the trope of prison as a paradox, for seldom is idolization an act that ca n be described as cruel. Yet as Luke gains the respect of his fellow convicts through his persistent over the top antics (such as the previously mentioned "I can eat fifty egg s" scene) he seems to become increasingly despondent at his inability to escape the confines of the prison Luke eventually does escape, cutting a hole through the cellblock's wooden floor and slipping away undetected during a celebration. But his freedom is short lived, for he is quickly tracked down and returned to prison. In an in famous scene, Luke is paraded before his fellow convicts, shackled with a set a permanent ankle chains, and then beaten by th e w arden, who quips "what we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can t reach I don't like it any more than you ." 172 The w arden's comments, accompanied by the violent, public spectacle of punishment, not only suggest that Luke is being beating and sh ackled for his own good but also that the w arden feels awful about having to mend out the punishment Confusion and cruelty that seem to stem from the
(# prison system rather than the inmates produce an atmosphere that epitomizes the trope of prison as a paradox. Luke's counterpart in Cool Hand Luke is Boss Godfrey, an obstinate lawman who always wears large, mirrored sunglasses to prevent anyone from seeing his eye. 173 He seemingly never speaks, and when a prisoner asks Luke one day, "Doesn't he ever talk?" Godfrey fittingly shoots a bird, to which Luke responds, "I think he just said something." 174 In examining the trope of prison as a paradox, Boss Godfrey presents a particularly poignant example of the prison industrial complex refle cted onto an individual who exud e s an aura of unquestionable authority. He sees, yet he is never seen, and he communicates without speaking, leaving the viewer (and the prisoners) unsure of exactly what to think about this obstinate lawman. In Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Modern Prison Foucault describes the invention and utilization of a clever device called the panopticon: an organizational prison system in which every inmate in a given area can be seen by a single guard, while none of the p risoners under observation can view their observer. "The major effect of the panopticon," contends Foucault, is "to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power." 175 The fundamental purp ose of the panopticon is to assure that this "automatic functioning of power" continues unabated and that the power remains under the control of the lawma n and no t the outlaws This is accomplished through the c reation of a paradox that leaves th e prisoners without recourse: t he inmates cannot know when they are being observed, who is observing them, or what the observation is directed at uncovering, yet they must always suspect that they are under surveillance. Foucault's contention that the
($ penit entiary panopticon creates a situation in which power is both "visible and unverifiable" is clearly seen in the metonym of Boss Godfrey and his permanent mirrored sunglasses. 176 Boss Godfrey is constantly visible, always standing nearby as the convicts carr y out their daily activities, but his mirrored sunglasses make it impossible for the inmates to make eye contact with him. In fact, the inmates can never truly know if they are being observed at any given moment; Boss Godfrey could close his eyes and nobo dy would be the wiser. This sort of supervision provides the same sense of self sustaining power that Foucault attributed to the physical edifice of the penitentiary panopticon. Cool Hand Luke presents the panoptic theme of the prison environment not on ly through the mirror eyed Boss Godfrey, but als o through the consistent portrayal of prison as a confusing environment with ambiguous rules : prison as a paradox For example, as soon as Luke enters his cellblock for the first time, a man who calls himsel f the floorwalker monotonously recites a long list of rules punishable by something he calls a "night in the box." 177 Any inmate who forgets his number, loses his spoon, fails to return his soda bottle, or is caught "playing grab ass" is subject to this pun ishment of a "night in the box." 178 Despite the questions posed as he unemotionally recites the list, the floorwalker provides no additional insight as to what the rules mean, nor does he expound on what "the box" is Later in the movie, "the box" is finally revealed as a plain outhouse sized building with no plumbing and wooden floors, lit by a single light bulb that dangles from a wire. After finding out that his mother has recently passed away, Luke is pulled from his work detail and placed in the box for what amounts to preemptive punishment : the warden believes that the death of Luke's mother may tempt him to plot an escape. Even the officer who is ordered to place Luke in the box seems
(% confused and dismayed by the underserved punis hment, and as he places two empty buckets on the ground (presumably to be used as toilets ), he rationaliz es his behavior by saying "Sorry Luke, I am just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that." Luke apparently disagrees with the guard's rational e as he responds to his justification by saying "Calling it your job don't make it right, boss." As the door is shut and then barred, the other convicts leave for their work detail, and the audience is left to ponder why Luke is being punished for something t hat he has not (yet) done. Luke's contention that "calling it your job don't make it right" pinpoints the underlying theme of the trope of prison as a paradox, for when even the officers who administer the punishment are offended by their own actions, the viewer is also confused and dismayed by what amounts to senseless abuse at the hands of the system. Later in the movie, the trope of prison as a paradox is reiterated in perhaps the most torturous scene in the entire film when Luke is returned to the prison after a second escape attempt As punishment, Luke is ordered to dig a ditch, and then to fill it in, only to be ordere d to dig it again The punishment begins early in the morning and continues until well after nightfall, and each time Luke nears completion of his assigned task, the guards step in to update the chore. The punishment takes place in full view of the other prisoners, and as such, it is clearly meant to serve as an example of the prison's unquestionable and i nescapable authority In addition, the exercise also seems to be an effort to break the will of the stubborn convict and a successful one, as Luke later admits "they broke me. In the end, the psychological and physical extent of the ditch digging scene seems more like cruelty than punishment a public spectacle designed to torture a strong willed man into forced compliance The drudgery of performing a
(& seemingly endless task that borders on torture paints a harrowing picture of the p rison industria l complex, elevating Luke to the status of a metonym for the frustration felt by millions of men and women ensnared in the drudgery of the modern punishment machine. Much like the brutal rape depicted in American History X, t he incident does initiate a c hange in Luke's behavior, and he adopts a submissive attitude toward the prison guards for the first tim e in the film implying that perhaps the extreme treatment was justified, or at least effective Even the guards trust that Luke's submissive attitude is sincere until he spots a set of keys in the ignition of a work truck one day an d mounts yet another escape attempt After witnessing the ditch digging i ncident, which left the viewer convinced of Luke's brokenness and submission to the prison system, albeit by extreme and torturous means, the unexpected escape suggests that even th e worst punishment available punishment that bor ders on physical and psychological torture is not sufficient to permanently rehabilitate the redeemed outlaw. As such, by fai ling to produce an enduring change of behavior, the ditch digging scene in Cool Hand Luke acts as what Yousman calls a "brutalizing fiction" that suggests tha t "rehabilitation is impossible and that prisoners are beyond rehabilitation or redemption. 179 However, unlike representations of prison as a playgr ound and prison as penance, the representation of prison as a paradox in Cool Hand Luke emphasizes the short fallings of the prison: when even the most extreme punitive sanctions at an officer's dispos al are incapable of compelling rehabilitation, the system is exposed as fundamentally broken. By singling out Luke for extreme, public punishment, which ultimately failed to alter his
(' behavior, the prison guards highlight the fact that the system, even wh en pressing the limits of its pun itive ability, is incapable of effecting real and enduring rehabilitation Similar scenes depicting prison as a paradox appear in numerous modern prison films, demonstrated in scenes where the redeemed outlaw is subjected to official treatment that leaves the viewer confused or even indignant In The Green Mile, the arc hetype of prison as penance gives way to the archetype of prison as a paradox when John Coffey, an innocent man who can heal the sick is nonetheless executed in the electric chair. Viewers have no control over whether or not Coffey will die, and it seems that neither does the film's obstinate lawman, Officer Paul Edgecomb, who is unequivocally convinced of Coffey's innocence. At a piv otal point in the movie, a distressed Edgecomb asks Coffey, "Tell me what you want me to do. Do you want me to take you out of here? Just let you run away? See how far you could get?" 180 Edgecomb does not offer to file an appeal on behalf of Coffey, to c ontact the governor and request a pardon, or to seek any sort of legal remedy to the situation; he simply asks Coffey if he wants him to "take him out of here," presumably to run from the authorities for the rest of his life. Coffey's situation is a riddl e with no solution, a paradox that represents the frustrat ion and confusion that saturate the prison industrial complex Edgecomb, a man intimately involved in the penal system, believes that the only possible solution to Coffey's imminent execution is to simply sneak the man out a back door when nobody is looking. This scene serves as a symbolic Javert suicide, as the obstinate lawman is unable to continue blindly performing his official duty. Instead, h e decides to let a Death Row inmate walk out of pr ison, an act that will almost certainly land him in a prison cell. His offer is quickly refused, however, in another paradoxical moment, when Coffey
(( responds, "Why would you do such a foolish thing? and accepts his own execution rather than trying to live. 181 In the e nd, the viewer is left with the feeling that the execution is defensible not because the outlaw deserves to die, but because as Yousman claims "such media images and narratives construct the penal system as just, a s a flawed but ultimately functional institution ." 182 In such an oxymoronic broken yet functional institution, a few mistakes are acceptable if the punishment machine is to continue to operate on a massive level. In the previously discussed Dead Man Walking the trope of prison as a paradox is demonstrated as the film s main character Matthew, is prepared for e xecution. Throughout the film, despite his guilt, Matthew continues to insist that he is innocent but his brand of innocence is not likely to win him any sympathy from the viewer, for, by his own admission he stood by and watched a rape and double murder unfold As the film develops Matthew is repeatedly portrayed as a clichÂŽ Bad Guy who is racist, sexist, unrepentant, and downright mean. In one scene, he endor ses Hitler and white supremacy claiming that "Castro was on the right track," and that the Holocaust has "never been proven." 183 In another scene, he defends his hatred of African Americans, calling t hem lazy welfare taking coloreds sucking up tax dollars." H is reprehensible behavior is eventually derided by his religious advisor, who angrily explains, "You are making it so easy for them to kill you, coming across as some sort of a crazed animal Nazi racist mad dog who deserves to die." 184 In this regard as the guards unemotionally prepare to enforce the death sentence, the viewer is tempted to endorse their actions despite Matthew's profession of innocence for even if he is every bit as "inno cent" as he claims to be, he is still one of Rapping's characters who are so depraved and vicious that no
() sane person could possibly think they should ever again be let loose upon society." 185 As such, the viewer is indifferent to Matthew's death, and his profes sed innocence does not matter : if the punishment machine must turn out a few errors, let this monster be one of them. In fact, the film reinforce s this sense of justified revenge when just minutes before he is executed, Matthew confesses to committing th e rape and murder, removing any remaining sense of apprehension the viewer may have felt about putting an "innocent" man to death. As previously discussed, the last minute confession also shifts the representation of prison as a paradox to prison as penance, leaving the viewer with a cozy, final impression that, despite its confusing and extensive flaws, perhaps the system can be effective In the trope of prison as a paradox, the penitentiary is depicted as a broken and self perpetuating system that reinforces the very antisocial be havior it is intended to correct For example, i n Life, the trope of prison as a para dox is exemplified in the afore mentioned cornbread diatribe, in which Rayford Gibson responds to a large inmate's demand for his cornbread with threats of "consequences and repercussions." 186 The resulting one sided fistfight is almost identical to a scene in Cool Hand Luke and both fights present superb examples of the trope of pr ison as a paradox. Gibson and Luke b oth instigate a fight with the largest man in the prison both continue to fight well past the point of defeat and both fights take place in plain view of the guards. Most importantly, after the fights, both men are a warded a strange sort of respect from the rest of the prisoners, as if the fact that a man would needlessly subject himself to a brutal beating is worthy of some sort of bizarre adoration These scenes exemplify the trope of prison as a paradox by present ing prison as a p lace where idolization is cruel and masochism is
(* respectable A correctional system that endorses or encourages such behavior is clearly incapable of effecting rehabilitation. As such, t he viewer's indignation which would be directed toward the depraved actions of prisoners in representations of prison as a playground and prison as penance, is instead directed at the prison system which is shown to be fundamentally defective In sum, where the trope of priso n as a playground perpetuates stereotypes of inmates as hedonistic monsters, and the trope of prison as penance reinforces the idea that the penitentiary is the on ly way to protect society from these monsters, the trope of prison as a paradox emphasizes th e prison's culpability in creating and sustaining the behavior of the convicts that it holds, painting the prison industrial complex as an ineffective and systemically broken institu tion As this brief examination of some of the key cinematic representat ions of the trope of prison as a paradox has revealed, the ambiguity and inefficacy of the prison industrial complex is the central theme in representations of prison as a paradox When an inmate suffers abuse at the hand of prison officials rather than other inmates, the viewer is tempted to assume that such methods of "punishment" are justified in the name of rehabilitation. But when extreme methods that border on torture are nonetheless shown to be unproduc tive as is frequently the case in representations of prison as a paradox, the viewer is forced to question the effectiveness of the punishment machine. In sum, where the tropes of prison as a playground and prison as penance endorse the necessity of an e ternally expanding prison industrial complex, the trope of prison as a paradox exposes the penitentiary as a brutal yet ineffective machine of punishment In s o doing such films force viewers to recognize the intrinsic brokenness of the prison system, an d to question the necessity of its continued growth and harshening.
(+ CHAPTER V THE VIEW FROM INSIDE THE LOOKING GLASS This Thesis has explored modern television and film representations of the prison industrial complex, focusing on the schism between Certeau's condensed and edited "refer ential reality created with information gleamed from film and the actual environment of prison, which most viewers will never experience first hand The archetypal characters of the redeemed outlaw and the obstinate l awman have been shown to reappear time and again in cinematic representations of prison My findings have tended to focus on the negative consequenc es of such cinematic portrayals, namely, the reinforcement of the viewer's belief in the necessity of the continued growth and harshening of the prison industrial complex as a vital prerequisite for society's continued safety. This conclusion was based, time and again, on the fact that the cinematic portrayals examined were all examples of Kenneth Burke's "r eflection, selection, and deflection of reality," and that, as Dawn Cecil said, these Hollywood style productions "do not necessarily seek to educate instead they aim to titillate." 187 Cinematic representations of prison have become a thorn in the side of my fellow academics seeking to educate the public as to the shortcomings of the prison industrial complex, as we must consistently overcome stereotypes perpetua ted by Hollywood's titillating cuisine. In an effort to overcome this barrier, an increasing number of individuals have taken up the pen from a position inside of the prison walls, and as Nellis posits, "The newly emergent convict criminology,' produced in the USA by ex cons (usually imprisoned as a result of the war on drugs') who have subsequently become academics, arguably enables criminology in general to go beyond the best of what it has
), said hitherto about release and resettlement." 188 Although academics will frequently find the mselves at a disadvantage when competing against Hollywood's never ending spectacle of punishment, the voices of those who have seen the system from the inside will prove valuable in supplementing the glamorous Hollywood tropes of prison as a playground, p rison as penance, and a prison as a paradox with a more concrete representation of the prison experience as a whole. In addition to firsthand narratives penned from within the pri son industrial complex, the last decade has seen the emergence and expansion of a numb er of activist organizations devoted to what Yousman calls media literacy education: the idea that viewers can choose to question the distorted images provided by television and movies, working to "break the hold that the media industries have ov er our perception of mass incarceration." 189 The remainder of this essay will focus on the efforts o f authors, academics and activists who are already working both inside and outside of prison to reveal the truth about what goes on behind the stubbornly op aque walls of the penitentiary. Mumia Abu Jamal is an activist, journalist, and radio personality who was sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer in 1982. 190 He has been incarcerated in a maximum security Pennsylvania prison ever since his c onviction, and the majority of his time has been spent on Death Row, until, following a long legal battle, his death sentence was commuted to life in 2011. 191 Abu Jamal, who The New York Times has referred to as "perhaps the world's best known death row inm ate," has written a number of books detailing his life behind bars. 192 In an excerpt from one of his most popular texts, Live from Death Row, Abu Jamal describes the prison milieu in a succinct statement: "Life here oscillates between the banal and the bizarre." 193 This is not a
)# description of the dark and threatening atmosphere of Shawshank Prison or of The Green Mile's Death Row; there is no suggestion of the self created entertainment seen in Cool Hand Luke's fifty egg scene, or of the comic relief fre quently provided by the cushion of comedy. Abu Jamal's words strike at the heart of the prison industrial complex, and his statement clearly identifies the schism between the prison he lives in and those typically portrayed in film : in the cinematic repre sentation, the viewer has no patience for the banal, and so there is no oscillation. But as Abu Jamal emphasizes throughout the text, the banal is the dominating theme in his world, and the bizarre is an infrequent break from "The mind numbing, soul killi ng savage sameness that makes each day an echo of the day before, with neither thought nor hope of growth," making "prison the abode of spirit death." 194 Descriptions like this one, authored by an inmate writing from the inside looking out, provide a sincer e and sobering picture of the reality of life in p rison. There is no playground f or Abu Jamal to manipulate, no penance that can be served on his way to redemption, and no way to escape the paradox o f prolonged torture he describes Instead, the prison i ndustrial complex that Abu Jamal lives within is a blunt tool of punishment that acts with brutal consistency upon each of its charges. The revelations of Abu Jamal are startling in their s implicity, but his perspective as an incarcerated inmate limits h is objectivity H owe ver, first hand accounts of the prison industrial complex have also been authored by men and women who have voluntarily enter ed the walls of prison. In one such book, New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing which The Denver Post called "experimental journalism at its best ," author Ted Conover details his experiences as a Corrections Officer at New York's Sing Sing Prison. 195 As a guard, Conover's narrative provides a unique perspective of the prison industrial
)$ complex, for he sees the sys tem from the inside, yet unlike the inmates he is charged with supervising, he is in a position of authority and can leave the prison whenever he wishes In the book, Conover poetically describes th e anguish that Abu Jamal alludes to, and speaking from t he perspective of a guard entering the prison, he says: You feel it along the walls inside, hard like a blow to the head; see it on the walls outside, thick, blank, and doorless; smell it in the air that assaults your face in certain tunnels, a stale and a crid taste of male anger, resentment, and boredom walls built not to shelter but to constrain. 196 Conover details the same sense of despair that seems to permeate the entire edifice of the penitentiary, but his viewpoint is poignantly different from A bu Jamal's in that Conover is a guard or, as he so aptly describes it, "it was a life sentence in eight hour shifts." 197 A guard's "life sentence" is described throughout the book as an emotionally exhausting role, and Conover explains how he and his fellow officers "adopted blank, tough expressions that betrayed no weakness or curiosity, no disgust or delight Was this only about closing the blinds on your own soul so they couldn't see in?" 198 On Christmas Day, Conover describes th at, "as an officer, you mainly had to deny it. Christmas spirit generosity, forgiveness, goodwill toward men ran pretty much counter to what we were supposed to be doing. Prison was for punishment; it wasn't ours to forgive." 199 And on New Years Eve, a ni ght when most people celebrate new beginnings, Conover says that, "unlike my friends, they [the inmates] weren't celebrating the arrival of the New Year so much, it seemed, as closing the book on the old." 200 Conover's accounts of life in prison provide val uable insight into the nature of the punitive machine, and narratives such as his, highlighting the inhumane treatment of prisoners, provide a valuable tool for disseminating information concerning the reality of prison operations. Conover's perspective a s a guard allows the reader to rest assured that his accounts are
)% unlikely to be biased by preexisting antipathy for the system, and narratives of this type provide important anecdotal evidence as to the shortcomings of the prison industrial complex Judi th Tannenbaum is the author of Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin, an appropriately named book that provides yet another perspective of a prison from inside of its walls. In the book, which was praised by Historian H. Bruce Frank lin as "powerful, moving, and exceptionally significant," Tannenbaum consistently notes the sense of despair and hopelessness that seems to predominate the prison environment. 201 At one point, Tannenbaum reveals her frustration at the rigidity of the system envisioning "an image of prison as a brick wall I kept hurling my body against. I knew my body would certainly be crushed long before even the slightest of dents appeared in the brick wall." 202 In another section, she talks about one of her popular stude nts, and how she wonders if he "ever worried that prison might eventually wear down his capacity to be a human being out in the world." 203 Yet at the same time as she voices concern that prisoners may be institutionalized by the inflexible prison system, she consistently humanizes the inmates she speaks of, at one point explaining that, "the longing to be emotionally close to another creature [is] part of the human experience. A man or a woman in pris on doesn't stop being human, and so, doesn't stop desiring closeness." 204 Tannenbaum's story presents an example of the sort of first hand narratives written from inside of prisons that will prove invaluable to overcoming the stereotypes perpetuated by the p lethora of prison films and television shows that reinforce the necessity of the prison industrial complex In addition to academics who have taken up the torch, a number of firsthand
)& accounts of the prison environment penned by individuals who are not (ye t) academics reiterate the mind numbing banality of the prison setting. Damien Echols served nearly two decades on Arkansas's Death Row after being convicted of three murders when he was just eighteen years old. His sentence was eventually commuted to "t ime served" in 2012, after much public attention and three separate HBO documentaries concerning the case led prosecutors to reexamine some questionable evidence Shortly after his release from prison, Echols published Life After Death, a gritty memoir of his time spent behind bars that The New York Times said "tries to reconcile all these extremes into a single narrative, and to a great extent it accomplishes this magic trick." 205 In the text, Echols notes the ability of the prison industrial complex to pr oduce something akin to the opposite of rehabilitation, or as he states it, to "send a man to prison for writing bad checks and then torment him there until he becomes a violent offender." 206 He goes on to explain life inside prison as follows: On an averag e day there is nothing kind, generous, caring, or sensitive within these walls. The energy directed at you is hatred, rage, disgust, stupidity, ignorance, and brutality. It affects you in mind, body, and soul, much like a physical beating. The pressure is relentless and unending. Soon you walk with your shoulders slumped and your head down, like a beast that's used to being kicked. 207 Echols is describing his own life inside of prison, and his firsthand description presents a harrowing picture of criminal corrections that is a far cry from Cheliotis' account of cinematic representations where "Imagination tends to be taken on a sensational journey into spaces where the false and the fictional arise victorious from the ashes of the real." 208 In Echol 's world, there is no sensational journey to interrupt the banality of the prison that he calls "this hell devoid of anything that makes life worthwhile." 209 Numerous other first hand accounts of the prison industrial complex verify the
)' claims of Abu Jamal Tannenbaum, Conover, and Echols concerning the s carring nature of the system. Stephen Hartnett poetically details his experience s teaching creative writing classes to incarcerated convicts, describing: reeling from the stifling ugliness of gray walls g ray clothing gray food gray soul gray dismal gray no bright colors no music no laughter no beauty 210 In another section of the same text, Hartnett alludes to Hannah Arendt's previously discussed ideas concerning the "banality of evil," stating: but for the pressure to inflict pain damaging the guards as much as the prisoners the temptation so great to abuse the impunity of unchecked power guard culture so klanish defining honor through cruelty dehumanizing others themselves 211 Inmate Amos Rogers similarly describes the dehumanization of life behind bars, stating "prison is being told what you can wear, what you can own, what you can eat, how much sun and fresh air you can enjoy, and when you can call home, if you have a home." 212 Such descriptions of the prison industrial complex speak volumes to the plight of the men and women who are locked for extended periods inside of these stressful environments. It is no wonder that, as Echols so aptly described, society can "send a man to prison for writing bad checks and then torment him there until he becomes a violent offender." 213 When the tropes of prison as a playground, prison as penance, and prison as a paradox are compared to firsthand accounts from those inside of the system, the prison industrial
)( complex is exposed as the massive, ineffective dungeon that it has become. Only by choosing to supplement the information provided by Hollywood's tempting array of television shows and movies with fundamental facts con cerning the actual operations of the prison system can the barriers constructed from years of stereotypical cinematic prison representations begin to be demolished. In addition to the revealing perspective s offered by firsthand prison narratives, Yous man endorses the idea of public media literacy education, claiming that : T he commercial media industries have in fact amassed enormous profits by making us feel isolated from one another, anxious, unworthy, and, ultimately, very afraid. Alienated from ot her people we thus turn to the myriad products that the consumer society dangles in front of us with promises of fulfillment and salvation. 214 The cinematic tropes of prison as a playground and prison as penance create irredeemably evil characters that cause viewers to feel "very afraid," yet the "consumer society dangles before us" the solution of the obstinate lawman and his machine of punishment, the prison industrial complex However, Yousman's model of media literacy education suggests that "viewer s can question and resist the distorted picture of incarceration" typically offered by Hollywood production s "and they can work to change the media system that perpetuates these misleading images." 215 In addition to individuals writing firsthand narratives from within the prison industrial complex, numerous organizations d evoted to Yousman's concept of media literacy education are utilizing modern forms of media to disseminate information, attempting to reveal a more complete picture of prison than what is typically offered in a Hollywood representation The Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education Collective (PCARE) is a group of communication scholars founded in 2002 who, utilizing both
)) traditional print publications and an internet blog, seek to combat the continued expansion of America's prison system. According to PCARE's website, "Mass incarceration is one of the great crises of our time and is inextricably bound to the troubling discourses of crime and punishment that permeate our sch ools, media, and communities." 216 PCARE's publications include Working for Justice: a Handbook of Prison Education and Activism, which contains Yousman's "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex ," a n illuminating chapter that delineates the complicated relationship between cinematic prison portrayals and an ever harshening prison industrial complex. PCARE's website also provides links to prison statistics, activism groups prison poetry publications, and The Bureau of Justice Statistics, thereby serving as a gateway to additional resources dedicated to educating the general public as to the realities of the prison industrial complex. Other organizations have adopted a much more comprehensive approach to media education, seeking to addres s the problems related to globalization and media transparency. One such organization, T he Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) is a non profit group of individuals whose website boasts, "Free of any funding from Big Media, ACME is an emerging glo bal coalition run by and for media educators ACME's unique approach to media education involves teaching citizens how to more effectively access, analyze, evaluate and produce media." 217 Yousman recently described the group's missions as follows: "ACM E's vision of media education is linked with media activism focused on changing the media industries' priorities and practices." 218 As such, ACME seeks to expose the influence that large corporations have over what is broadcasted via mainstream media Specifically, ACME claims that "just a few
)* multinational corporations (Big Media) own much of the media that shape our 21 st century culture," and as such, independently funded media resources are vital for insuring accurate and transparent new reporting. Founded in 2002, Free Press is another well established activism group devoted to encouraging transparency in the media by exposing the elaborate connections between multinational corporations and the mainstream media. According to the organization's w ebsite, "Free Press advocates for universal and affordable internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant public media and quality journalism." 219 Free Press seeks to combat what it calls "corporate control over our print media" through ensuring "that th e public has a seat at the table." 220 In relationship to the prison industrial complex, the goals of Free Press relate not only to news stories about prisons, but also to Hollywood style prison narratives, such as those examined throughout this T hesis. As such, Free Press provides resources meant to supplement the limited and biased information supplied by Hollywood cinematic representations of prison, providing movie viewers with legitimate information to enrich their "referential reality." These activism groups, and many others who endorse similar objective s serve as valuable hubs for social justice activists in search of support, resources, or information. In addition to the concept of media literacy education, the documentary film pre sents a particularly effective tool for combatting the cinematic tropes of prison as a playground and prison as penance, for despite its lack of a pre written script, it uses the same tools of visual and audio representation that draw the viewer to fiction al prison films. The Media Education Foundation (MEF) creates and distributes documentaries concerning myriad topics, and the website claims that the project is informed by "the
)+ notion that language and by extension, image define the limits, and possibili ties, of human imagination and thought." 221 Paper Tiger Television is another organization devoted to creating and distributing documentaries that, according to their website, "expose and challenge the corporate control of media." 222 Similarly, The Californi a Newsreel is an online documentary distribution company whose website boasts, "produces and distributes cutting edge, social justice films that inspire, educate and engage audiences." 223 These documentary film companies pride themselves on offering an alte rnative to the mainstream media, and unlike Cecil's characterization of Hollywood films as productions that "do not necessarily seek to educat e instead they aim to titillate, MEF, Paper Tiger Television and The California Newsreel do seek to educate. 224 Although the modern genre of the documentary film is as vulnerable to edits, cuts, and context manipulation as any other, it nonetheless presents an alternative to the purely fictional prison narrative, and as such, it serves to richen the viewer's knowled ge of the prison industrial complex. This brief list of alternative media resources is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the numerous organizations working to reform society's notion of mainstream media. In sum, organizations such as those dis cussed above provide valuable online resources for movie and television viewers seeking evidence to either support or refute their beliefs about the prison industrial complex. The movies and television shows examined in this Thesis have repeatedly confirm ed the existence of three representational tropes: prison as a playground, prison as penance and prison as a paradox. These stereotypical prison representations provide the viewer with a source of information concerning a typical prison environment, and absent any first hand knowledge to authenticate or to disprove what is seen, the movie or
*, television representation becomes what Certeau called "referential reality." 225 As I have shown, this "referential reality" can lead to tacit approval of the prison i ndustrial complex, and by proxy, of its continued growth and harshening, since the penitentiary is frequently depicted as an indispensable component of society. As Abu Jamal said, "prisons have become a warped rite of passage, a malevolent mark of manhood and a dark expectation." 226 Conover took this line of reasoning a step further, and expressing his contempt at the notion of prison as a rite of passage, he states, "but can rite of passage possibly be the correct term for a kind of suspended animation that leaves you older, weaker, less sexually attractive, and less connected to the community than before you went in?" 227 When the cinematic accounts that Ch eliotis derided as places where "Imagination tends to be taken on a sensational journey into spaces where the false and the fictional arise victorious from the ashes of the real," are compared to Conover's and Abu Jamal's first hand account s of "rites of passage" that leave people "older, weaker, less sexually attractive, and less connected to the commun ity," the disconnect becomes obvious. As Tannenbaum eloquently explains, "We cannot look horror in the face' if we keep repeating the same stories, based on the same myths, with the same conclusions." 228 These "same stories based on the same myths" are ex emplified in the modern tropes of prison, and in the exaggerated prisoner stereotypes portrayed in cinematic prison productions If we are to "look horror in the face," and challenge the prison industrial complex's strict and unquestionable punitive grasp then as Nellis said, "The newly emergent convict criminology', produced in the USA by ex cons arguably enables criminology in general to go beyond the best of what it has said hitherto about release and resettlement." 229 The "convict criminologist s who authored the afore mentioned books,
*# and those who will author the next generation of first hand prison narratives, represent the counterpart to Hollywood's glamorized prison environment, and the information contained in their accounts will prove inval uable in combatting the continued growth and harshening of the prison industrial complex. In addition, a ctivist organizations dedicated to prov iding media literacy education through online blogs and multimedia resources will continue to play a valuable ro le in disseminating information about prison conditions and operations serving to expose the intrinsic short fallings of the prison industrial complex.
*$ ENDNOTES -----------------------------------------------------1 Les MisÂŽrables, DVD, directed by Tom Hooper (2012; Universal City, CA: Universal Studios, 2012). 2 Manohla Dargis, "The Wretched Li ft Their Voices: Les MisÂŽrables' Stars Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman," New York Times, December 24, 2012, http://movies.ny times.com/2012/12/25/movies/les miserables stars anne hathaway and hugh jackman.html?pagewanted=all 3 Susan Wioszczyna, "Merciless Critics Lead the Les Mis' Rebellion," USA Today, January 24, 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/01/24/les miserables critics/1839145/ The Internet Movie Database keeps detailed records of movie casts, producers, rights, and awards won at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/ 4 Keith Caulfield, "'Les Mis ÂŽ rables' Soundtrack Hits No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart," Billboard, January 9, 2013, http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1481225 /les miserables bows at no 1 on soundtracks chart 5 Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols (New York, NY : Dell Random House Publishing, 1964), 58. 6 Carl Jung, On the Nature of the Psyche (New York, NY: Dell Random House, 1947), 417. 7 Victor Hugo, Les MisÂŽrables (New York, NY, Penguin Group, 1987). 8 Mike Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption: Released P risoners in American Film and Literature," Theoretical Criminology 13, no. 1 (2009): 129 146, quotation at 131. 9 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 132. 10 Victor Hugo, Les MisÂŽrables. 11 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 132. 12 Cool Hand Luke, DVD, directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers Seven Arts, 2008). 13 Bosley Crowther, movie review of Cool Hand Luke, in The New York Times, November 2, 1967, http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res =EE05E7DF1738E260BC4A53DFB767838C679EDE 14 Cool Hand Luke.
*% ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15 The Dirty Dozen, DVD, directed by Robert Aldrich (1967, Los Angeles, CA: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 2000). 16 Roger Ebert, review of The Dirty Dozen July 26, 1967, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the dirty dozen 1967 17 The Hollywood Foreign Press Association keeps records of awards on th eir website, www.goldenblobes.org 18 The Longest Yard, DVD, directed by Robert Aldrich (1974, Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2005). 19 Escape from Alcatraz, DVD, directed by Don Siegel (1979, San Francisco, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2013). 20 Roger Ebert, review of Escape from Alcatraz June 27, 1979, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/escape from alcatraz 1979 21 Escape from Alcatraz 22 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 136. 23 Sling Blade, DVD, directed by Billy Bob Thornton (1996, New York, NY: Miramax Films, 2001). 24 Janet Maslin, "American History X: Film Review: The Darkest Chambers of a Nation's Soul," New York Times, Oct ober 28, 1998, http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9c07e4de103cf93ba15753c1a96e958260 25 American History X, DVD, directed by Tony Kaye (1998, New York, NY: New Line Cinema, 1999). 26 Helen Eigenberg & Agnes Baro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower you are on your own: Images of Male Rape in Selected Prison Movies," Sexuality and Culture 7, issue 4 (Dec, 2003): 56 66, quotation at 76. 27 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 132. 28 Get Rich or Die Tryin' DVD, directed by Jim Sheridan (2005, Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2006). 29 A. O. Scott, "Even a Ruthless Thug can have a Sensitive Side," New York Times, November 9, 2005, http://movies.nytimes.com/2005/11/09/movies /09try.html
*& ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------30 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 140. 31 Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols, 58. 32 United States Department of Justice: Bu reau of Justice Statistics online database, http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4654 33 Eigenberg & Baro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower you are on your own," 86, 64. 34 Dawn K. Cecil, "Looking Beyond Caged Heat: Media Images of Women in Prison," Feminist Criminology 2 (2007): 304 326, quotation at 305. 35 Leonidas K. Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility: Crime and Prisons in the Mass Media," Crime, Media, Cult ure 6 (2010): 169 184, quotation at 175. 36 Bill Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex through Media Education," in Working for Justice: a Handbook of Prison Education and Activism, ed. Stephen J. Hartnett et al. (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2013): 141 160, quote at 145. 37 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 38 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 152. 39 See The Bible, Matthew 14:6 12, New International Version. 40 For descriptions of Jesus's execution by crucifixion, see Matthew 27:24 46, Mark 15:1 37, Luke 22:66 23:47, or John 19:15 30. 41 See Leviticus 24:16 for Jewish law concerning blasphemy; see Leviticus 20:10 for Jewish religious law concerning adultery; se e Leviticus 20:13 for Jewish religious laws concerning homosexuality. 42 Numbers 15:34, Deuteronomy 17:2 7, Leviticus 24:10 16. 43 Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (Blacksburg, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2010), 59. 44 Michel Foucault, Di scipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 3 6. 45 Stephen J. Hartnett, Executing Democracy Volume One: Capital Punishment & the Making of America 1683 1807 (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2010), 49.
*' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------46 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 19. 47 Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, English translation by John Cumming (New York: Seabury Press, 1977), 139. 48 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 145. 49 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 174. 50 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984), 187. 51 Shawshank Prison is the setting of a short story originally published in: Stephen King, Dif ferent Seasons (New York, NY: Viking Press, 1982). The short story was adapted into a movie: The Shawshank Redemption, w ritten and directed by Frank Darabont (1995, Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures, 1999). 52 Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 187. 53 Adorno & Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 126. 54 Plato, The Republic (Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press, 1944), 529. Written in the fourth century B.C. 55 Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying: An Observation," in Intentions (Public Domain Work, Project Gutenberg Ebook, 1997). Originally published in 1891. 56 Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 187. 57 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1991), 24. 58 Eigenberg & Ba ro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower you are on your own," 87. 59 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 175. 60 Travis L. Dixon, "Teaching You to Love Fear: Television News and Racial Stereotypes in a Punishing Democracy," in Challengi ng the Prison Industrial Complex: Activism, Arts & Educational Alternatives, ed. by Stephen J. Hartnett (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011), 107 123, quote from 114. 61 Sue Mahan & Richard Lawrence, "Media and Mayhem in Corrections: The Role of the Media in Prison Riots," The Prison Journal 76 (1996): 420 441, quotations at 420, 423.
*( ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------62 Kenneth Burke, A Grammar of Motives (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1945), 60. 63 Burke, A Grammar of Motives, 59. 64 Steven Shaviro, Post Cinem atic Affect (Washington: O Books, 2010), 93. 65 Shaviro, Post Cinematic Affect, 2. 66 Shaviro, Post Cinematic Affect, 2 3. 67 Youtube.com is a free video service that broadcasts user uploaded videos; Netflix.com is a for fee service that offers subscribers unlimited access to a plethora of new and archived films and television shows. 68 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit, MI: Black & Red, 1983), 42. 69 Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 47. 70 Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 186 187. 71 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 145. 72 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 17 5. 73 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 152. 74 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 75 Prison Break, DVD, c reated by Paul Scheuring (2005 2009, Los Angeles, CA: 20 th Century Fox Television, 2006). 76 2006 Peop le's Choice Awards results at http://www.peopleschoice.com/pca /awards/nominees/index.jsp?year=2006 77 Robert Bianco, "'Prison Break' Debut has Lock on Suspense," USA To day, August 28, 2005, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/television/reviews/2005 08 28 prison break_x.htm 78 Sheuring, "Pilot," Prison Break, August 29 2005. 79 Sheuring, "Riots, Drills, and the Devil (Part I)," Prison Break, September 25, 2005. 80 Sheuring, "Riots, Drills, and the Devil (Parts I& II)," Prison Break, September 25 & October 3, 2005.
*) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------81 Roger Ebert, review of The Shawshank Redemption, Octo ber 17, 1999, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great movie the shawshank redemption 1994 82 The Shawshank Redemption, DVD, written and directed by Frank Darabont (1995, Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures, 1999). 83 The Shawshank Redemption 84 Oz, DVD, created by Tom Fontana Bayonne (1997 2003, New Jersey: Levinson/Fontana Company & HBO, 2004). 85 Elayne Rapping, Law and Justice as Seen on TV (New York: University Press, 2003), 81. 86 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 175. 87 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 147. 88 Bill Yousman, "Inside Oz : Hyperviolence, Race and Class Nigh tmares, and the Engrossing Spectacle of Terror," Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 6 (September, 2009), 265 284, quote at 267. 89 Cecil, "Looking Beyond Caged Heat," in Feminist Criminology, 305. 90 Sheuring, "Cell Test" & "Flight," Prison Break, September 5, 2005 & May 15, 2006. 91 Sheuring, "Pilot," Prison Break, August 29, 2005. 92 Sheuring, "Cute Poison," Prison Break, September 12, 2005. 93 Sheuring, "End of the Tunnel," Prison Break, November 28, 2005. 94 Prison Break. 95 Oz. 96 Sigmund Fre ud, Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious (New York, NY: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1916), 206, 150. 97 Anger Management, live broadcasts, created by Bruce Helford ( 2012 present, Los Angeles, CA: Joe Roth Television, 2013).
** ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------98 Rolling Stone, "Charlie Sheen's Anger Management' Breaks Ratings Record," June 29, 2012, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/charlie sheens anger management breaks ratings record 20120629 99 Helford, "Charlie and the Prison Riot," Anger Management, August 15, 2013. 100 Life, DVD, directed by Ted Demme (1999, Universal City, CA: Universal Studios, 1999). 101 Roger Ebert, review of Life, April 16, 1 999, http://www.rogerebert.com /reviews/life 1999 102 The Shawshank Redemption 103 Life 104 Lets Go to Prison, DVD, directed by Bod Odenkirk (2006, Universal City, CA: Universal Studios, 2007). 105 Niel Genzlinger, "Prison Comedy with a Shank, not an Ax," New York Times, November 18, 2006, http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/11/18/movies/18pris.html 106 Lets Go to Prison 107 Freud Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious, 206, 150. 108 Freud, Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious, 147. 109 Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 187. 110 Rapping, Law and Justice as Seen on TV, 81. 111 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 112 The Shawshank Redemption 113 The Shawshank Redemption 114 Elvis Mitchell, review of Animal Factory, "Surviving the Lockup One Way or Another," New York Times, October 20, 2000, http://movies.nytimes.com /movie/review?res=990CE7D6123EF933A15753C1A9669C8B63 115 Animal Factory, DVD, directed by Steve Buscemi (2000, Philadelphia, PA: Franchis e Pictures, 2002).
*+ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------116 Roger Ebert, review of Blood in, Blood out: Bound by Honor, April 30, 1993, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/bound by honor 1993 ##) Blood in Blood out: Bound by Honor, DVD, directed by Taylor Hackford (1993, Hollywood, CA: Hollywood Pictures, 2001). 118 Blood in, Blood Out. 119 Blood in Blood Out. 120 Blood in Blood Out 121 Eigenberg & Baro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower you are on your own," 87. 122 Rapping, La w and Justice as Seen on TV, 81. 123 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 175. 124 Rapping, Law and Justice as Seen on TV, 81. 125 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 126 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 127 Adorno & Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 139. 128 Julia Keller, "Stephen King: AWOL from his own Biography," The Chicago Tribune, January 11, 2009, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009 01 11/news /0901090173_1_stephen king king fan wound 129 The Shawshank Redemption 130 The Shawshank Redemption 131 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 175. 132 The Shawsh ank Redemption 133 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 132. 134 The Shawshank Redemption 135 The Green Mile, DVD, written and directed by Frank Darabont (1999, Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc., 2007). Roger Ebert, review of The Green Mil e, December 10, 1999, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the green mile 1999
+, ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------136 The Green Mile 137 The Green Mile 138 American History X 139 Eigenberg & Baro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower," 76. 140 Eigenberg & Baro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower," 87. 141 Eigenberg & Baro, "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower," 87. 142 Short Eyes, Youtube, directed by Robert M. Young (1977, New York, NY: Film League, uploaded 2013), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QxBf qNexs 143 Vincent Canby, review of Short Eyes, "Film Short Eyes' Eloquently Adap ted," New York Times, September 28, 1977, http://movies.nytimes.com/movie /review?res=9504E7D91638E334BC4051DFBF66838C669EDE 144 Yousman, "Challenging the M edia Incarceration Complex," 146. 145 Con Air, DVD, directed by Simon West (1997, Burbank, CA: Disney Touchstone Pictures, 1999). 146 Janet Maslin, review of Con Air, "Signs and Symbols on a Thrill Ride," New York Times, June 6, 1997, http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res =9F01E1D81E3DF935A35755C0A961958260 147 Rapping, Law and Justice as Seen on TV 81. 148 Dixon, "Teaching You to Love Fear," 114. 149 Con Air 150 Vincent Canby, review of Blood in Blood out: Bound by Honor, "The Chicano Experience, in Its Glory and Tedium," New York Times, April 30,1993, http://movies.nyt imes.com/movie/review?res=9F0CE0D91E38F933A05757C0A9659582 60 151 Blood in Blood out 152 Blood in Blood out. 153 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146.
+# ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------154 The Shawshank Redemption. 155 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 156 A. O. Scott, review of Monster's Ball, "Courtesy and Decency Play Sneaky With a Tough Guy," New York Times, December 26, 2001, http://movies.nyt imes.com/movie /review?res=9C07EED81531F935A15751C1A9679C8B63 157 Monster's Ball, DVD, directed by Marc Forster (2001, Vancouver, British Columbia: Lions Gate Films, 2002). 158 Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 187. 159 Monster's Ball 160 Yousman, "Ch allenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 161 Con Air 162 Rapping, Law and Justice as Seen on TV, 81. 163 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 164 The Green Mile 165 The Green Mile. 166 Hannah Ardent, A Report on the Banality of Evil: Eichmann in Jerusalem (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1965), 276. 167 Ardent, A Report on the Banality of Evil, 276. 168 Kenneth Turan, "Movie Review: Prayers for the Victim, Victimizer: Dead Man Walking,' Tim Robbins' adaptation of Sister Helen Prejean's Novel, Explores Many Sides of Capital Punishment," Los Angeles Times, December 29, 1995, http:// articles.latimes.com/1995 12 29/entertainment/ca 18942_1_sister helen 169 Dead Man Walking, Youtube.com, directed by Tim Robbins (1995, Universal City, CA: PolyGram Filmed Entertainmen t, 2013), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =uSAq2niVVHA 170 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146.
+$ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------171 Bosley Crowther, review of Cool Hand Luke, New York Times, November 2, 19 67, http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1738E260BC4A53DFB767838 C679EDE #)$ !""#$%&'($)*+,$ 173 Cool Hand Luke. 174 Cool Hand Luke 175 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 201. 176 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 201. 177 Cool Hand Luke 178 Cool Hand Luke 179 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 180 The Green Mile 181 The Green Mile 182 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 146. 183 Dead Man Walking 184 Dead Man Walking. 185 Rapping, Law and Justice as Seen on TV, 81. 186 Life 187 Burke, A Grammar of Motives, 59; Cecil, "Looking Beyond Caged Heat," 305. 188 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 14 4. 189 Yousman, "Challenging the M edia Incarceration Complex," 155 190 Joseph A. Kirby, "From Death Row, Ex reporter Seeks Public Support, New Trial," Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1995, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995 07 28/news /9507280256_1_mumia abu jamal ken rocks prosecutors and critics
+% ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------191 Timothy Williams, "Execution Case Dropped Against Abu Jamal," New York Times, December 7, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/us/execution case dropped against convicted cop killer.html?_r=0 192 Sara Rimer, "Death Sentence Overturned in 1981 Killing of Officer," New York Times, December 19, 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/19/us/death sentence overturned in 1981 killing of officer.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics %2fPeople%2fA%2fAbu%2dJamal%2c%20Mumia 193 Mumia Abu Jamal, Live From Death Row (New York: Avon,1995), 6. 194 Abu Jamal, Live From Death Row, 54. 195 Ted Conover, New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing (New York: Random House, 2001); quote taken from front cover. 196 Ted Conover, New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing (New York: Random House, 2001), 171. 197 Conover, New Jack, 21. 198 Conover, New Jack, 30. 199 Conover, New Jack, 295. 200 Conover, New Jack, 306. 201 Judith Tannenbaum, Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin (Boston: Northeaster University Press, 2000), quote taken from back cover. 202 Tannenbaum, Disguised as a Poem 147. 203 Tannenbaum, Disguised as a Poem, 18. 204 Tannenbaum, Disguised as a Poem, 140 141. 205 Janet Maslin, "Freedom After Fire Ants and Tumult," review of Life After Death, New York Times, September 20, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09 /20/books/life after death by damien echols.html 206 Damien Echol s, Life After Death (New York: Blue Rider Press, 2012), 14. 207 Echols, Life After Death, 64 65. 208 Cheliotis, "The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility," 175.
+& ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------209 Echols, Life After Death, 151. 210 Stephen J. Hartnett, Incarceration Nation: Investigative Prison Poems of Hope and Terror (New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003), 28. 211 Hartnett, Incarceration Nation, 31. 212 Amos Rogers, "My Prison," in Captured Words Free Thoughts volume 9, Fall 20011: ed. Stephen J. Hartnett. 213 Damien Echols, Life After Death, 14. 214 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 157. 215 Yousman, "Challenging the M edia Incarceration Complex," 155 216 PCARE website homepage, http://p care.org 217 "About ACME," http://www.acmecoalition.org/about_acme 218 Yousman, "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex," 159. 219 "What We Do Free Press website, http://www.freepress.net/about 220 "What We Do," Free Press website, http://www.freepress.net/about 221 "Mission," Media Education Foundation website, http://www.mediaed.org/wp /about mef -222 "Welcome to Paper Tiger," Paper Tiger Television website, http://papertiger.org 223 "About California Newsreel," The Califor nia Newsreel website, http://newsreel.org /about California Newsreel 224 Cecil, "Looking Beyond Caged Heat ," 305. 225 Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 187. 226 Abu Jamal, Live From Death Row, 104. 227 Conover, New Jack, 287. 228 Tannenbaum, Disguised as a Poem, xiii. 229 Nellis, "The Aesthetics of Redemption," 144.
+' REFERENCES American History X. DVD. Directed by Tony Kaye. 1998; New York, NY: New Line Cinema. Anger Management. Created by Bruce Helford. 2012 present; Los Angeles, CA: Joe Roth Television. Animal Factory. DVD. Directed by Steve Buscemi. 2000; Philadelphia, PA: Franchise Pictures. Ardent, Hannah. A Report on the Banality of Evil: Eichmann in Jerusalem. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1965. Bianco, Robert. "Prison Break Debut has Lock on Suspense." USA Today, August 28, 2005. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/television/reviews/2005 08 28 prison break_x.htm Blood in, Blood Out : Bound by Honor DVD. Directed by Taylor Hackford. 1993; Burbank, CA: Hollywood Pictures Walt Disney Studios. Burk e, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1945. Canby, Vincent. "Film Short Eyes' Eloquently Adapted." New York Times, September 28, 1977. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie /review?res=9504E7D91638E334BC4051DFBF66838C669EDE Canby, Vincent. "The Chicano Experience, in Its Glory and Tedium." The N ew York Times, April 30,1993. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9F0CE0D91E38F933A05757C0A9659582 60 Caulfield, Keith. Les Mis ÂŽ rables Soundtrack Hits No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart." Billboard, January 9, 2013. http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1481225 /les miserables bows at no 1 on soun dtracks chart Cecil, Dawn K. "Looking Beyond Caged Heat: Media Images of Women in Prison." Feminist Criminology 2, (2007): 304 326. Con Air. DVD. Directed by Simon West. 1997; Burbank, CA: Disney Touchstone Pictures. Conover, Ted. New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing. New York: Random House, 2001.
+( Cool Hand Luke. DVD. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg. 1967; Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers Seven Arts. Crowther, Bosley. Movie review of Cool Hand Luke. New York Times, November 2, 1967. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res =EE05E7DF1738E260BC4A53DFB767838C679EDE Dargis, Manohla. "T he Wretched Lift Their Voices: Les MisÂŽrables Stars An ne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman." New York Times, December 24, 2012. http://movies.nytimes.com/2012/12/25/movies/les miserable s stars anne hathaway and hugh jackman.html?pagewanted=all De Certeau, Michel The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984. Dead Man Walking. Youtube.com. Directed by Tim Robbins. 1995; Universal City, CA: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =uSAq2niVVHA Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Detroit, M I: Black & Red, 1983. Dixon, Travis L. "Teaching You to Love Fear: Television News and Racial Stereotypes in a Punishing Democracy." In Challenging the Prison Industrial Complex: Activism, Arts & Educational Alternatives, edited by Stephen J. Hartnett, 107 123. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011. Ebert, Roger. Movie review of Blood in, Blood out: Bound by Honor. April 30, 1993. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/bound by honor 1993 Ebert, Roger. Movie review of Escape from Alcatraz June 27, 1979. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/escape from alcatraz 1979 Ebert, Roger. Movie review of Life. April 16, 1999. http://www.rogerebert.com /reviews/life 1999 Ebert, Roger. Movie r eview of The Dirty Dozen Jul y 26, 1967. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the dirty dozen 1967 Ebert, Roger. Movie review of The Green Mile. December 10, 1999. http:// www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the green mile 1999 Ebert Roger. Movie review of The Shawshank Redemption. October 17, 1999 http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great movie the shawshank redemption 1994 Echols, Damien. Life After Death. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2012.
+) Eigenberg, Helen & Baro, Agnes. "If you Drop the Soap in the Shower you are on your own: Images of Male Rape in Selected Prison Movies." Sexuality and Culture 7, issue 4 (Dec, 2003): 56 66. Escape from Alcatraz. DVD. Directed by Don Siegel. 1979; San Francisco, CA: Paramount Pictures. Foucault Michel. Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books, 1995. Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and its Discontents. Blacksburg, Virg inia: Wilder Publications, 2010 Freud, Sigmund. Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious. New York, NY: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1916. Genzlinger, Niel. "Prison Comedy with a Shank, not an Ax." New York Times, November 18, 2006. http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/11/18/movies /18pris.html Get Rich or Die Tryin'. DVD. Directed by Jim Sheridan. 2005; Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures. Glazer, Craig. The King of Sting. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2008. Hartnett, Stephen J. Executing Democracy Volume One: Capital P unishment & the Making of America 1683 1807. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2010. Hartnett, Stephen J. Incarceration Nation: Investigative Prison Poems of Hope and Terror. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003. Hugo, Victor. Les MisÂŽrables. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1987. Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1991. Jung, Carl. Man and his Symbols. New York, NY: Dell Random Hou se Publishing, 1964. Keller, Julia. "Stephen King: AWOL from his own Biography." Chicago Tribune, January 11, 2009. http://articles.chicagotribu ne.com/2009 01 11/news /0901090173_1_stephen king king fan wound
+* Kirby, Joseph A. "From Death Row, Ex reporter Seeks Public Support, New Trial." Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1995. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995 07 28/news /9507280256_1_mumia abu jamal ken rocks prosecutors and critics Les MisÂŽr ables. DVD. Directed by Tom Hooper. 2012; Universal City, CA: Universal Studios Lets Go to Prison. DVD. Directed by Bod Odenkirk. 2006; Universal City, CA: Universal Studios. Life. DVD. Directed by Ted Demme. 1999; Universal City, CA: Universal Studios. Long, Weldon. The Upside of Fear. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group, 2009. Mahan, Sue & Lawrence, Richard. "Media and Mayhem in Corrections: The Role of the Media in Prison Riots." The Prison Journal 76 (1996): 420 441. Maslin, Janet. "Am erican History X: Film Review: The Darkest Chambers of a Nation's Soul." New York Times, October 28, 1998. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9c07e4de103cf93ba15753c1a96e958260 Maslin, Janet. "Freedom After Fire Ants and Tumult." New York Times, September 20, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/books/life after death by damien echols.html Maslin, Janet. "Signs and Symbols on a Thrill Ride." New York Times, June 6, 1997. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res =9F01E1D81E3DF935A35755C0A961958260 Mitchell, Elvis. "Surviving the Lockup One Way or Another." New York Times, Octo ber 20, 2000. http://movies.nytimes.com /movie/review?res=990CE7D6123EF933A15753C1A9669C8B63 Monster's Ball. DVD. Directed by Marc Forster. 2001; Vancouver, British Columbia: Lions Gate Films. Mumia Abu Jamal. Live From Death Row. New York: Avon, 1995. Oz. DVD. Created by Tom Fontana. 1997 2003; Bayonne, New Jersey: Levinson/Fontana Company & HBO. Plato. The Republic. Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press, 1944. Prison Break. DVD. Created by Paul Scheuring. 2005 2009; Los Angeles, CA: 20 th Century Fox Television.
++ Rapping, Elayne. Law and Justice as Seen on TV. New York: University Press, 2003. Rimer, Sara. "Death Sent ence Overturned in 1981 Killing of Officer." New York Times, December 19, 2001. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/19/us/death sentence overturned in 1981 killing of officer.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics %2fPeople%2fA%2fAbu%2dJamal%2c%20Mumia Rolling Stone. "Charlie Sheen's Anger Management' Breaks Ratings Record." Rolling Stone Magazine, June 29, 2012. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture /news/charlie sheens anger management breaks ratings record 20120629 Scott, A. O. "Courtesy and Decency Play Sneaky With a Tough Guy." New York Times, December 26, 2001. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res =9C07EED81531F935A15751C1A9679C8B63 Scott, A. O. "Even a Ruthless Thug can have a Sensitive Side." New York Times, November 9, 2005. http://movies.nytimes.com/2005/11/09/movies /09try.html Shaviro, Steven. Post Cinematic Affect. Washington: O Books, 2010. Short Eyes. DVD. Directed by Robert M. Young. 1977; New York, NY: Film League. Sling Blade. DVD. Directed by Billy Bob Thornton. 1996; New York, NY: Miramax Films. Smith, Razor. A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2004. Tannenbaum, Judith. Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin. Boston MA : Northeaster University Press, 2000. The Dirty Dozen. DVD. Directed by Robert Aldrich. 1967; Los Angeles, CA: Metro Goldwyn Mayer. The Green Mile. DVD. Written and directed by Frank Darabont. 1999; Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. The Longest Yard. DVD Directed by Robert Aldrich. 1974; Hollywo od, CA: Paramount Pictures The Shawshank Redemption. Directed by Frank Darabont. Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures, 1995.
#,, Turan, Kenneth. "Movie Review: Prayers for the Victim, Victimizer: Dead Man Walking,' Tim Robbins' Adaptation of Sister Helen Prejean's Novel, Explores Many Sides of Capital Punishment." Los Angeles Post, December 29, 1995. http:// articles.latimes.com/1995 12 29/entertainment/ca 18942_1_sister helen United States Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics online database http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4654 Williams, Timothy. "Execution Case Dropped Against Abu Jamal." New York Times, December 7, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/us/execution case dropped against convicted cop killer.html?_r=0 Wioszczyna, Susan. "Merciless Critics Lead the Les Mis' Rebellion." USA Today January 24, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/01/24/les miserables critics/1839145/ Yousman, Bill. "Challenging the Media Incarceration Complex through Me dia Education." I n Working for Justice: a Handbook of Prison Education and Activism, edited by Step hen J. Hartnett, Eleanor Novek & Jennifer K. Wood, 141 160. Chicago, IL: University o f Illinois Press, 2013 Yousman, Bill. "Inside Oz : Hyperviolence, Race and Class Nightmares, and the Engrossing Spectacle of Terror Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 6, (September, 2009), 265 284.
#,# APPENDIX: LIST OF ARCHETYPAL PRISON FILMS Movie/Television Pro gram Character Archetypes Prison as a Playground, Penance, or Paradox Additional Comments Redeemed Outlaw Obstinate Lawman Les Miserables (1934 2012) Jean Valjean Inspector Javert Penance Archetype redeemed outlaw versus obstinate lawman text The story has been filmed at least eleven times since 1934. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Tom Joad The legal system & society Penance Tom's mom wants to know if the prison made him "mean." Shockproof (1949) Jenny Marsh Parole Officer Griff Marat Playground, Penance Convicted (1950) Glenn Ford George Knowland Playground, Paradox Early example of a film that uses a false conviction as an antagonist, and the eventual defeat of the false conviction as a redemptive act. High Noon (1952) None Will Kane Penance The outlaw in this movie seeks revenge rather than redemption. Man in the Dark (1953) Steve Rawley Steve's old friends Penance Redemption through making amends: Rawley has his brain "fixed." Riot in Cellblock II (1954) James Dunn State politicians & the Governor Playground, Paradox Early depiction of the power of media coverage. Cape Fear (1962) Max Cady Parole officer, and the police Playground, Paradox Max Cady is a recalcitrant released convict seeking revenge, not redemption Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965) Henry Thomas Kate Dawson Penance Redemption through making amends. Cool Hand Luke (1967) Luke Jackson Boss Godfrey Penance, Paradox Godfrey dubbed "the man with no eyes" by the inmates panopticon The Dirty Dozen (1967) A group of 12 convicts Col. Everett Dasher Breed Penance The prisoners in this film find redemption by accepting a suicide mission that will help end WWII. Going Home (1971) Harry Graham Jimmy Graham Penance The Getaway (1972) Doc McCoy Sheriff Beynon Penance Sheriff Beynon hires McCoy to rob a bank. Papillon (1973) "Papillon" & Louis Dega The French penal colony of Devil's Island Playground, Penance Papillon and Dega plot to escape the island prison, but in the end only Papillon manages to escape.
#,$ The Longest Yard (1974) Paul Crewe Guard Bogdanski & Warden Hazen Playground, Penance Redemption through art via football. Also Cool Hand Luke theme of creating excitement. Pi Â– ero (1975) Miguel Pinero Play critics & the penal system Penance, Paradox Redemption through art. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) Randle Patrick McMurphy Nurse Mildred Ratched Playground, Penance, Paradox McMurphy manipulates the system to serve a prison sentence for statutory rape at a mental ward. Cannonball! (1976) "Cannonball" Buckman None Penance Redemption through art via: automobile racing. Short Eyes (1977) Clark Davis Davis's fellow prisoners Playground, Penance, Paradox Twist of characterization: Clark is a child molester who is brutally murdered by his fellow inmates. Straight Time (1978) Max Dembo Max's parole officer Penance Max chooses revenge rather than redemption. Midnight Express (1978) Billy Hayes The Turkish Justice System Playground, Penance, Paradox Hayes is arrested in Turkey for attempting to smuggle hashish. Penitentiary (1979) Martel Gordone The prison Playground, Paradox Redemption through overcoming a false conviction. Escape from Alcatraz (1979) Frank Morris The warden Playground, Paradox The warden remains nameless throughout the movie Brubaker (1980) Henry Brubaker Lee Bullen, & Richard Coombes Several corrupt prison officials & the parole board Playground, Paradox Brubaker flips the warden, usually an obstinate lawman, on to the side of the redeemed outlaw, joining forces with two of the prison's long time convicts. Attica (1980) Hap Richards The Warden Penance, Paradox Made for TV movie depicting inmates rioting for bett er treatment. Bustin' Loose (1981) Joe Braxton Parole Officer Donald Kinsey Penance, Paradox Cushion of Comedy film. 48 Hrs. (1982) Reggie Hammond Jack Cates Penance Hammond helps Cates crack a drug case while paroled to him. Dead Man Walking (1985) Matthew Poncelet Sister Helen Prejean Penance Redemption through confession and repentance prior to death sentence. Raising Arizona (1987) Herbert I. "Hi" McDunnough The prison system Playground, Penance McDunnough has a hard time committing himself to redemption. Weeds (1987) Rick Cluchey The prison system Playground, Penance, Paradox Redemption through art film: Cluchey writes and directs a play. Lock Up (1989) Frank Leone Warden Drumgoole Playground, Paradox Harrowing look at a maximum security prison. GoodFellas (1990) Henry Hill The Penal System Playground, Penance "Wiseguys" have an easy time in prison: "we owned the joint."
#,% Wild at Heart (1990) Sailor Ripley Pee Dee Correctional Facility Playground, Penance Redemption via justified murder: Ripley acted in self defense. Past Midnight (1991) Ben Jordan Parole Officer Lee Samuels Playground, Penance Quentin Tarantino film Hudson Hawk (1991) Eddie Hawkins Eddie's Parole Officer Playground, Penance, Paradox Stigma of conviction film: Hawkins cannot escape his label of convict. Silence of the Lambs (1991) Hannibal Lecter Clarice Starling Penance No redemption is sought in this thriller. Malcolm X (1992) Malcolm X None specified Paradox In Malcolm X, the antagonist is the system as a whole, rather than a single obstinate lawman. South Central (1992) Bobby The penal system Playground Redemption through a selfless act: taking care of his son. American Me (1992) Montoya Santana The California Penal System: Folson Prison Playground, Penance, Paradox Santana's old neighborhood also plays a role in "forcing" him back into his old lifestyle. Blood in Blood out (1993) Miklo Velka Paco Aguilar Playground Extreme emphasis on the perceived sexual threat of prison. The Real McCoy (1993) Karen McCoy Kim's Parole Officer Playground, Penance Carlito's Way (1993) Carlito Brigante D.A. Norwalk Penance The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Andy Dufresne Penal system Playground, Paradox The epitome of prison as a demented playhouse Murder in the First (1995) Henri Young Warden James Humson Playground, Paradox Critical look at the legal system. The Rock (1996) John Mason F.B.I. Director Womack Penance Redemption through good deed: Mason prevents innocent death. Sling Blade (1996) Karl Childers The Criminal Asylum Penance, Paradox Childers redeems himself by going back to prison for what he believes to be a noble reason. Con Air (1997) Cameron Poe Poe's fellow prisoners Playground, Penance The system refuses to release its grip on the convicts who want to escape. First Time Felon (1997) Greg Yance Sergeant Calhoun Playground, Penance, Paradox Based on the true story of "Vice Lord" gang member Greg Yance. Oz (1997 2003) The inmates (periodically) The Penal System, guards Playground The epitome of distilled playhouse for deviants American History X (1998) Derek Vinyard Parole officer Playground Prison is run by race gangs and sexual assault is rampant. Slam (1998) Ray Joshua The legal system Penance Redemption by art: Joshua uses poetic talent to gain redemption.
#,& Life (1999) Ray Gibson & Claude Banks Sergeant Dilliard & Sherriff Pike Playground, Penance Cool Hand Luke themes wrapped in the cushion of comedy. The Green Mile (1999) John Coffey Coffey's death sentence Penance, Paradox Epitome of a dark, twisted funhouse for procuring the ultimate penance. Blue Streak (1999) Miles Logan Detective Carlson Penance Cushion of comedy film: redemption through good deeds. Double Jeopardy (1999) Libby Travis Penance Backwards look at redemption: Libby gains her redemption by proving her innocence, then kills her "victim." Hurricane (1999) Rubin "The Hirricane" Carter Judge H. Lee Sarokin Playground, Penance Biographical account of Carter, who gains his redemption in the film by gaining his freedom after 20 years of fighting his conviction. The Limey (1999) Wilson Revenge Playground, Penance Wilson is released from prison and seeks revenge for the death of his daughter. O Brother, Where Art Though (20 00) Everett McGill Sheriff Cooley Penance Cushion o f comedy film. Reindeer Games (2000) Rudy Duncan Gabriel Playground, Penance Gabriel and Nick assume that Duncan will resume his criminality. Where the Money Is (2000) Henry Manning None Penance Manning is a bank robber who fakes a stroke to plan a final heist. The Yards (2000) Leo Handler Officer Jerry Rifkin Playground, Penance, Paradox Handler's past places him in a vulnerable position, and he is falsely accused of another crime. Animal Factory (2000) Ron Decker & Earl Copen San Quentin Prison, inmates & guards Playground, Penance, Paradox Copen finds redemption through helping Decker find redemption. Bandits (2001) Joe Blake & Terry Collins The police Penance Redemption through non violence. The One (2001) Gabriel Yulaw Agent Roedecker Penance Futuristic sci fi thriller. Ocean's 11 (2001), Ocean's 12 (2004), & Ocean's 13 (2007) Danny Ocean Three person Parole Board Penance Ocean never completely embraces a redeemed lifestyle, and he is stigmatized. Monster's Ball (2001) Hank Grotowski Hank Grotowski Penance, Paradox Strange twist in which one of the redeemed outlaws is actually a literal prison guard. The Last Castle (2001) Eugene Irwin Colonel Winter Penance Military spin on the idea of the redeemed outlaw versus the obstinate lawman.
#,' The Parole Officer (2001) Parole Officer Simon Garden Parole Officer Simon Garden Playground, Penance Cushion of Comedy film: Garden switches from one role to the other. State Property (2002) Beans The City's Police Force Playground Gangster film: the redeemed outlaw never obtains redemption. Run for the Money (2002) Thomas Taylor Mark Cornell Playground Stigma of incarceration: Taylor is forced back into crimi nal activity. Conviction (2002) Carl Upchurch Parole board chairman Playground, Paradox Based on the true story of Carl Upchurch, reformed gang member. Levity (2003) Manuel Jordan The streets Playground, Penance Film that focuses entirely on the post prison redemption process Gettin' Square (2003) Barry "Wattsy" Wirth Detective Arnie DeViers Playground, Paradox Redemption through overcoming a wrongful conviction. Redemption (2004) Stan "Tookie" Williams The Prison Chief & William's death sentence Playground, Paradox Biographical film about Williams, founder of the L.A. Crips street gang: redemption through Nobel Peace Prize nominations. The Woodsman (2004) Walter Detective Lucas Playground, Penance Child molester seeking redemption: rare subject matter for film. Hustle & Flow (2005) DJay Police officers Playground, Penance Redemption through art film: DJay gives up hustling for music. The Longest Yard (2005) Paul Crewe Warden Hazen & guards Playground, Penance This 2005 remake used the cushion of comedy more than the original. Animal (2005) & Animal 2 (2007) James "Animal" Allen Prison officials and police officers Playground, Penance, Paradox Allen seeks redemption through Nellis's "preventing suffering in another generation." Prison Break (2005 2009) Michael Schofield The (corrupt) penal system Playground, Paradox Prison Break lost ratings after the breakout: prison as a character. Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005) Marcus The legal system, local police officers Penance Loosely biographical account of rapper "50 Cent:" the outlaw seeks redemption when he has a child Waste Deep (2006) Otis "O2" The police department Playground, Penance O2 embraces criminality to recover his kidnapped son. Sherrybaby (2006) Sherry Swans on Parole officers Hernandez & Murphy Penance, Paradox Drug addict returns home after 3 years to seek redemption through motherhood. The Woods (2006) Heather Fasulo Dean Traverse Penance, Paradox Supernatural thriller Little Children (2006) Ronnie McGorvey Larry Hedges Playground, Penance Lets go to Prison (2006) John Lyshitsky John Lyshitsky willingly Playground, Paradox Cushion of comedy film. Big Stan (2007) Stan Minton Warden Gasque Playground, Penance Cushion of comedy movie. Felon (2008) Wade Porter Lieutenant Jackson Playground, Paradox Redemption through justified homicide and false conviction.
#,( Gamer (2009) Kable Ken Castle Penance Futuristic sci fi film. Damage (2009) John Brickner Brickner's Parole Officer Playground Redemption through making amends. Stone (2010) Gerald "Stone" Creeson Jack Mabry Playground, Paradox Manipulation and conspiracies abound in this prison setting. Conviction (2010) Kenny Waters Sergeant Nancy Taylor Playground Redemption through defeating a false conviction. The Con Artist (2010) Vince Kranski Playground, Penance, Paradox Stigma of conviction: Vince's past wont let him go. Crazy on the Outside (2010) Thomas Zelda Parole Officer Angela Penance Cushion of comedy. Joint Body (2011) Nick Burke Nick's ex wife and his parole officer Playground, Penance, Paradox Wild Bill (2011) "Wild" Bill Hayward Social Workers Playground, Penance Breathing (2011) Roman Kogler The Parole Board Playground, Penance, Paradox The Philly Kid (2012) Dillon Dillon's Parole Officer Playground, Penance Redemption through overcoming a wrongful conviction, and art. Escape Plan (2013) Ray The prison warden Playground, Paradox Redemption through overcoming a false conviction Fresh Fish" film, containing representations of prison as a playground through a new inmate's cruel treatment.