Hollywood’s Unfair Portrayal of Prison Guards and the Resulting Consequences on Society
“Popular culture is a fantasy promoting social phenomenon that defines the reality of unknown regions and the nature of their inhabitants for ‘outsiders’.” (Riley) Influences of popular culture on society are overwhelmingly strong. When Hollywood focuses on the correction system, particularly maximum security prisons, they create negative prison stereotypes. Much of these negative stereotypes lie in the staff of the prisons. The ideas have been expressed in a variety of ways, yet among the recurring themes and generalizations surround the corrupt prison guard. One theme is the omnipresent, tyrannical warden, who haphazardly enforces punishments on the seemingly undeserving inmates. Another them is the depiction of the sleazy prison guards who turn their backs when foul play is occurring and often take bribes from inmates. Lastly, another frequent depiction is that of a sadistic, abusive, power-driven sociopath, who often engages in sexual abuse and battery. It is not hard to imagine the stigma placed on the mass of correctional workers due to the mishaps of a small percentage.
Both Hollywood and the television industry have exploited the role of the prison warden as being one who is often tyrannical. This character is most often employed as an antagonist to the main character. They are depicted as a person with little to no substance, whose entire identity rests in their position within the prison walls. One examples of such an antagonist is in The Last Castle, There are many instances of criminal behavior demonstrated by the prison warden. James Gandolfini’s character, Col. Winters blatently goes against both military and penal system policies by subjecting inmates to harsh conditions. (Zepfell and Laurie 2001 as cited by Greek) This is seen when he forces a prisoner to stand in the rain for extended periods of time as well as when he consistently uses...
Cited: Greek, P. "The Portrayal of Prison Guards: Hollywood 's Take on Rogue Prison Guards." Florida
State University Dept of Criminology . 1-5. Print.
Riley, John. "Newjack: Beyond the Stereotype of the Brutal Guard." Alaska Justice Forum: A
Publication of the Justice Center. 17.3 (2000): Print.
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