LaChance Publishes ‘Crimesploitation: Crime, Punishment, and Pleasure on Reality Television’ with Stanford UP

Dr. Daniel LaChance, Associate Professor of History and Winship Distinguished Research Professor in History, recently published a new book with co-author Dr. Paul Kaplan, Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University. Titled Crimesploitation: Crime, Punishment, and Pleasure on Reality Television and published by Stanford University Press, the monograph investigates the enduring appeal of ‘true crime’ media in American popular culture. Dr. Michelle Brown, Professor at the University of Tennessee, offered the following appraisal of Crimesploitation: “Kaplan and LaChance move us toward a critical reckoning with the exploitative forms of (un)freedom that media’s spectacle of crime and punishment have conjured. A powerful dose of thoughtful accountability, this volume points the way to getting truly ‘real’ about—and intervening in—the suffering that a culture of punishment has produced.” Read more about the monograph below as well as on the Stanford UP website.

“‘Due to the graphic nature of this program, viewer discretion is advised.’ Most of us have encountered this warning while watching television at some point. It is typically attached to a brand of reality crime TV that Paul Kaplan and Daniel LaChance call “crimesploitation”: spectacles designed to entertain mass audiences by exhibiting “real” criminal behavior and its consequences. This book examines their enduring popularity in American culture. Analyzing the structure and content of several popular crimesploitation shows, including Cops, Dog: The Bounty Hunter, and To Catch a Predator, as well as newer examples like Making a Murderer and Don’t F**K with Cats, Kaplan and LaChance highlight the troubling nature of the genre: though it presents itself as ethical and righteous, its entertainment value hinges upon suffering. Viewers can imagine themselves as deviant and ungovernable like the criminals in the show, thereby escaping a law-abiding lifestyle. Alternatively, they can identify with law enforcement officials, exercising violence, control, and “justice” on criminal others. Crimesploitation offers a sobering look at the depictions of criminals, policing, and punishment in modern America.”