Only in America can teenagers commit multiple counts of residential burglary, steal millions of dollars, and become immortalized on the silver screen in one fell swoop.
Not only did these teens manage to steal $3 million in cash and possessions; they stole America’s attention.
Sofia Coppola’s new film, “The Bling Ring,” is based on the group of teenagers dubbed the “Burglar Bunch,” who broke into the homes of several celebrities back in 2009, including Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
Coppola selected Emma Watson to portray Alexis Neiers, one of the teens charged with the crimes, in the new film.
Apart from being portrayed by Emma Watson, the actress made famous in the Harry Potter franchise, Neiers was also a star in the reality show “Pretty Wild,” where the criminal proceedings following her involvement in the crimes were a focal point.
It’s safe to say Hollywood has a long history of glamorizing crime on the silver screen.
Popular films like “The Godfather” and “Ocean’s Eleven” often depict the antiheroes like gangsters and casino robbers in a favorable and flattering way.
Musical artists have sensationalized criminals like Bonnie and Clyde in their work.
Jay-Z’s single “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” featuring Beyonce, is a modernized adaptation of the infamous duo’s crime spree.
Should criminals be portrayed in a favorable manner?
Chief Probation Officer for the city of Ruston, David Sears, does not think so.
“I think it’s ridiculous to glamorize crime,” Sears said. “It makes us who work in the judicial system look like the bad guys.”
Sears, who has worked as a probation officer for 25 years, said between Tech and Grambling State, he has noticed an increase in crime.
He said some of it could be credited to an increase in the amount of crime on television.
Due to this increase in the glamorization of crime and the ease with which it can be viewed, another thing to consider is its availability to children.
Lou’uan Gollop-Brown, a psychology professor at Tech, said parents should be mindful of what their children watch.
“To children 4 years and younger, reality is a blur,” Gollop-Brown said. “To them, if they can see it, then they accept it as real.”
Gollop-Brown said repeated exposure to crime on television to an impressionable mind could be compared to the same repetition a child uses to learn the alphabet.
However, Jordan Rushing, a junior biology major, thinks not everyone is that impressionable and some people simply enjoy high crime movies.
He said movies or television shows in the crime genre add an air of excitement and intrigue for the viewer.
“The risk of the characters in the story is a thrill to watch,” Rushing said.
He said the mental stability of the viewer should be considered. If the viewer cannot normally differentiate between right and wrong, then they should not watch it.
With highly rated shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Pretty Wild,” it seems like people are being rewarded for their bad behavior with television shows and millions of fans.
And when Hollywood directors can hire well-known actresses, like Emma Watson, to play these roles in feature films, the people in America have no choice but to continue to watch.
Email comments to cls...@latech.edu.