Criminal behavior has been defined in many theories. A lot of these discuss the evidence that crime occurs as a result of biological or sociological circumstances. It draws question of whether crime is a result of inherent human nature, or that society provides elements that cause people to commit crime. The idea of crime caused by either an internal force or external construct exits beyond theory. We see these displayed everywhere from books to movies. After all, crime is a relevant part our society and its culture.
Over the years of cinema, screenwriters have typically used strict archetypes for characters whose actions reflect anything from typical law abiding citizen’s to the heroic feats of a war time hero. Of course, these characters usually deal with their own internal conflicts while the plot portrays something along the lines of good vs evil. The end result is social conformist view of an action packed or overdramatized reflection of life in modern society. In this type of story, little to no grey area exists between good and bad, which is rather an innocent interpretation of life. Another form of characterization has become more common, however. In this, the protagonist is viewed more as an antihero. It portrays the more deviant sides of society. In these representations, good and evil has more of a gray area.
Tv shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, or Sons of Anarchy exemplify this secondary type of characterization. These are three shows with pretty unique plot lines. Dexter, stars a serial killer of the same name, who lives by a code that only allows him to kill other killers. Over the course of the show, we see Dexter move from a sociopathic killer into a more human character in his attempts to blend into society. He even becomes somewhat of a family man conflicted by newly found hints of emotion. Sons of Anarchy, based off the real-world Hells Angels, gives its audience an inside look at the destructive lifestyle within a gang. It follows Jaxx Teller, who’s conflict encompasses his decision making to either lead his father’s motorcycle club into what it was once meant to be, or to continue down the path of corruption that it already follows. Through the course of the show, Jaxx and the Sons of Anarchy operate an illegal arms trade, run drugs for a cartel, and operate a porn studio, with all the deviant and criminal acts in between. Finally, the show Breaking Bad follows the story of Walter White. In the beginning of the show, Walter is a high school chemistry teacher. After struggling to make ends meet and dealing with a recent diagnosis of incurable cancer, the teacher takes his chemistry skills into the drug making business where he operates far outside the law.
What these shows have in common is a dark parallel that exists with our society. They represent the deviant lifestyles that oppose socially and even legally accepted behavior. These shows replace heroes with murderers and drug traffickers, exposing the violent, desperate, and darker side of human nature. The most interesting part about it is, that out of context, everyone knows these behaviors are wrong, yet within the confines of our television sets, we find ourselves rooting for these characters and even forming subconscious connections with them like they are good guys. We accept these behaviors without putting in the thought to notice that these are things we normally deem unacceptable. It makes one wonder if people truly are internally predisposed with criminal tendency. It just takes the right circumstance to bring it out.