Danmmmm How good does Leonardo Dicaprio look as a drug addicted, fraud lord billionaire? Better than a lonely frontiersman that has been mauled by a bear that is for sure. As I lay in my bed thanking Jesus, Jordan Belfort and the countless people he ripped off for this wonderful site, I realised that I am using a criminal’s life as entertainment. I am finding myself in ore of a criminal, understanding their motive and jealous even of what they have. So sparked the topic for this blog, does Hollywood glorify and justify the life of criminals? And does this benefit the criminals?
There has been countless films and television series out there that focus on the lives and events of criminals from all decades, all types of crimes and and all countries. When I think about it I learnt more about Nazis from Schindler’s List than I ever did in high school history. I guess that is what these movies do, they provide knowledge and history sided with a big serving of entertainment. But the argument of whether they encourage crime and bad behaviour needs to be applied; not only does Hollywood stretch the truth (sometimes a lot) but they also show great detail to how some of these criminals did what they did. In some cases they show sometimes how they got away with it, to the extent that by releasing a film on them benefited their lives and motives.
Yeah but like, what movies?
Possibly one of my favourite films that depicts the life of criminals is American Gangster which focuses around the life of Frank Lucas one of the first big african-american crime bosses, and shows the ways a man could be unbelievably kind and good while doing bad. It is said that Denzel Washington (who played him in the film) bought him and his family a house. I mean I would gladly make a few illegal trades, sell a few drugs and hurt a few people to get a new house.
And we can’t let him get away with only a small mention and a gif, but Jordan Belfort is obviously blessed in more ways than just getting portrayed by Leonardo Dicaprio. From his fame status after the movie and after his time in jail Jordan went on to become a successful conference speaker *cough* get rich quick coach *cough*. Jordan himself has said that he makes more money now then he ever did with his fraud schemes. In an article with The Hollywood Reporter, the wolf of wall street said “i’ll make more this year, than I ever did in my best year as a broker… my goal is to make north of $100 million so I am paying back everyone this year”. Belfort says he is a changed man, but even though the american government receive half of his income as compensation $50 million dollars still seems pretty darn good to me.
Obviously, we can’t really look at criminals turning into celebrities without looking into Australia’s two favourites, Schapelle Corby and Mark “chopper” Read. Over the last 12 years the name Schapelle Corby has become more common in a household than Ajax spray and wipe. Since her release from a Bali prison in 2014 and then her return to Australia in 2017 Shappell has been inundated with twitter and instagram followers, has been given a miniseries and had the offer to be on programs like celebrity big brother and dancing with the stars. Boogie board anyone? If we think back a few decades now we find yourself surrounded by media coverage of a man with much-more-than-triple-threat, Chopper Read. Not only does this man write books, release rap albums, act in film and tv and become a children’s entertainer he also brutally assaults, kills and steals from people. What a guy? And yet after his small screen movie released in 2000 starring Eric Bana, Read is referred to a the classic aussie icon; that’s right, an icon.
Yeah, but isn’t it all fake! Does it really effect the audience?
There are differents stages that follow the “based on a true story” titles that occur at the beginning of a film, either it is a correct telling of the story part for part from names to locations (usually happens when the person has a really exciting life), it is mostly correct but exaggerates some aspects and then pretty much nothing is real except the names and a loose storyline. It is our job as an audience to determine which one we are watching or at least don’t try it at home until we do. When dealing with #reallife creators have a lot more to take into consideration like defamation, privacy and misleading laws and sometimes it is easier to change it then risk it.
As much as I want a new car and a spot on dancing with the stars I just don’t know if I could go against everything I am taught to become a criminal to get; I will probably just, you know, work for it. In an article written in the Journal of Communication written by Anne Bartsch entitled “Making Sense of Violence” she explains how this is the case with most people; we use real crime films as an entertainment source not a really good quality ‘how to’ DVD. Bartsch shows that as audiences we are attracted more to the thrill, anticipation and suspense more than the act of the crimes. Although it has been the age old debate that violence and crime films increase violence and crimes, a study conducted by the University of California shows that movies that show crimes decreased the number of small crimes and violence in the states.
I am firmly on the side that says that crime films don’t make us want to become criminals, but at the same time I would gladly take $50 million, a new house and over 100 000 instagram followers. The only set back is I know the difference between right and wrong, I have common sense (hopefully like the general public) and apparently the pillows in prison are stuffed not feathered. I have a Library book that is ten years overdue, is that stealing, will someone give me a car now?