Oil and Water Do Not Mix: Constitutional Law and American Popular Culture

25 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2010

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: March 25, 2010


Why have most fictional films and television series purportedly involving constitutional issues been commercial and artistic failures? Focusing in order on “First Monday in October” (1981); “The Pelican Brief” (1993); and “The Court” and “First Monday,” two short-lived American television series from 2002, this article suggests the works fail not because of a lack of creativity but rather because of the way they were produced. In particular, the article argues the culture industry’s use of stock characters, devotion to familiar conventions, and reliance on established genres virtually preclude anything resembling meaningful constitutional deliberation and discussion. These aspects of pop cultural production are industrial imperatives, but stock characters, familiar conventions, and established genres limit the intellectual range and depth of films and television series. These limitations are especially pronounced when consideration of the Constitution is a possibility.

Keywords: films, television, constitutional, culture, pop culture

JEL Classification: K1, K19, K39, K49

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray, Oil and Water Do Not Mix: Constitutional Law and American Popular Culture (March 25, 2010). Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 10-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1578488

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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