Critical Criminology

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 17–35 | Cite as

“The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts”: Crime in the Melting P(l)ot in Gangs of New York

  • Martin O’Brien
  • Rodanthi Tzanelli
  • Majid Yar
  • Sue Penna


This paper explores the multi-layered representations of violence and crime in the recent Hollywood film Gangs of New York [Scorcese (2003) Miramax]. We use our exploration of this film to suggest that popular culture, even through its most mainstream products, can be seen as a critical criminological space where alternative views of law, crime and the state are made available. Rather than understanding Hollywood movies simply as vehicles for disseminating conventional mores, we suggest that they can furnish critical (and complex) points of view on law and crime and that the project of a critical criminology can be strengthened by engaging more forthrightly with these ubiquitous cultural forms.


Alternative View Popular Culture Cultural Form Critical Criminology Hollywood Movie 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin O’Brien
    • 1
  • Rodanthi Tzanelli
    • 1
  • Majid Yar
    • 1
  • Sue Penna
    • 1
  1. 1.Lancaster UniversityUK

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