978-0-226-75292-1 / 0226752925

When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line between Law and Popular Culture

by Sherwin, Richard K.

Publisher:University Of Chicago Press



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About the book:

Remember the national fascination with the televised Menendez brothers' trial? What about the episode of Law & Order in which the aristocratic Upper East Sider may or may not have pushed his wife into a coma? Oh, wait, that was the Claus von Bülow story--which was also made into a movie. This type of reciprocity of law and popular culture is of concern to NYU law professor Richard Sherwin. To Sherwin, the mingling of law and entertainment flattens discourse, occludes real understanding of the law and legal practices, and threatens democracy insofar as the public loses faith in "real law" when it does not conform to the law as seen at home, in popular culture, and on TV.

Sherwin analyzes the cultural and cognitive models at play in the telling and hearing of legal narratives and critiques the tools of meaning-making by looking closely at specific well-known cases and their outcomes. He also examines the use of public relations consultants to spin and provide a seductive coherence to their clients' cases (think of the "impromptu" press conferences on the courthouse steps). When Law Goes Pop is a rich and erudite critique of law as popular culture. It is a call to be alert to the deleterious effects of what another scholar, Doug Reed, has called "the juridico-entertainment complex," and a timely reminder of what is at stake. --J.R.

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