Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Criminalization of Culture

It has been going on for some time and recent events put it into focus, as this story from the Detroit Free Press reports.

An excerpt.

“Lindsay Lohan is scheduled to go to jail today.

"While it may not sound like a big deal -- yet another train-wreck celeb in trouble -- it may actually have a cumulative effect on fans, especially young people. Social experts suggest that being pelted with image after image of celebrity after celebrity in trouble does have societal implications.

"Things like reality TV and other things have almost glorified going to jail," said Arthur Robin, head of psychology at Children's Hospital of Michigan. "Yes, it's still something young people view very negatively, but probably not as negatively as 50 years ago."

“The accelerated news media obsession with locked-up celebrities, politicians and sports stars may be desensitizing young people to jail, experts have said. Rather than a stiff penalty, jail has become a simple inconvenience.

“Published reports suggest Lohan's first post-jail interview will be worth more than $500,000. Lil Wayne plans to drop his next album from Rikers Island.

“And in urban areas like Detroit, the jailings of those in the public eye could be leading youths down the wrong path.

“Punishment for non-celebrities is often more harsh. "Celebrities get away with stuff that non-celebrities don't get away with," Robin said.

“Time behind bars doesn't end glitzy lives for celebs

“Welcome to the weird world of celebrity justice, where going to jail doesn't necessarily kill careers.

“Often, it bolsters them.

“And that, experts say, is a problem -- especially for young and impressionable fans. "The impact is tremendous. ... There's certainly not the stigma of going to jail or prison that there was 50 years ago," said Carl Taylor, a Michigan State University sociologist who studies urban youths. "Kids are not scared of going to prison. They sure as hell are not scared of going to jail."