When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line Between Law and Popular Culture / Edition 1

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Overview

The past few decades have seen the legal system entering American popular culture like never before, from the media blitzes surrounding high-profile trials to the countless television programs in which judges rule on everyday disputes. What, if anything, does this mean for the legal system itself? According to Richard K. Sherwin, it is a dangerous development—one that threatens to turn law into spectacle, undermining public confidence as legal style and logic begin to resemble advertising and public relations.

"Sherwin offers insightful, intriguing analyses of movies and other cultural products. His examination of legal discourse and popular culture will inform, enlighten, and even entertain."—William Halton, The Law and Politics Book Review

"[Sherwin's] knowledge of how media culture affects the courtroom is valuable, as is his rigorous examination. Can we prevent America's legal system from going 'pop'—losing its legitimacy by becoming just another part of popular culture? Given America's courtroom obsession . . . it's about time someone did some explaining."—Julie Scelfo, Brill's Content

"[A] brilliant analysis of the jury system in our media-saturated age. . . . [D]iscerning readers will see a truly integrative intelligence at work, proposing possible solutions rather than simply bemoaning problems."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

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Richard Sherwin, a law professor and former New York prosecutor, offers a pathbreaking interdisciplinary study of law and popular culture. He argues that in the welter of communication technologies, an unrestrained marketplace, and postmodern ideas, law is increasingly becoming a spectacle, mimicking the style, techniques, and visual logic of advertising and public relations. How will law continue to function when truth becomes interpretation, and reality and fiction can no longer be separated? To answer this question, Sherwin draws on a wealth of fascinating material: the contemporary storytelling strategies of lawyers; notoriously popular criminal cases in American legal history; and examples of how lawyers and judges have used the media to legitimize the judicial process. With its careful blend of interpretations of history, media, and philosophies of the postmodern, When Law Goes Pop is a corrective for a culture sliding into fatal ambiguities.
Library Journal
"What images do we share?" asks former New York prosecutor Sherwin (law, New York Law Sch.) in this thoughtful and thought-provoking interdisciplinary study. "What stories do we tell ourselves and others about truth and reason, about law and justice, and about the masked rage of retribution and the hidden flow of illicit desire, or about the contingencies of chance and the necessity of fate, or about the civilizing force of compassion and mercy?" With judges in TV courtrooms resolving real-life conflicts and nightly newscasts blurring into legal docudramas, Sherwin suggests that truth has become a relative concept; juries are swayed by the lawyers who tell the best stories and by the forms in which they are told. When the line between legal and popular culture can no longer be drawn, Sherwin warns, we will be forced "to consider anew the source and efficacy of doing justice through law." Will the present craving for quick and easy (i.e., responsibility-free) gratification continue to dominate our society? The answer, Sherwin concludes, "depends on the kind of culture we accept, or help to construct, or refuse to affirm." Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Robert C. Jones, Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226752914
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 325
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: Law in the Age of Images
2. Screening Reality: The Vanishing Line between Law and Popular Culture
3. Legal Storytelling: Culture's Tools for Making Meaning
4. The Law of Desire: Cultural History and the Notorious Case
5. The Postmodern Challenge: A Case Study
6. The Jurisprudence of Appearances: Law as Commodity
7. When Law Goes Pop: Strange Forces, Trauma, and Catharsis
8. Law's Need for Enchantment: Perils and Possibilities
9. Conclusion: Redrawing the Line between Belief and Suspicion Notes Index

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