Graffiti Goes to the Movies: American Fictional Films Featuring Graffiti Artists/Writers and Themes

Posted: 21 Jan 2020

See all articles by Jeffrey Ian Ross

Jeffrey Ian Ross

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: July 2015

Abstract

Since the early 1980s, in addition to the increase in graffiti and street art in many urban contexts, a number of movies have been made that have either examined this phenomenon and the people who engage in this activity, or used graffiti and street art as a backdrop to tell a story. This article briefly reviews the scholarly literature that examines movies that portray criminals and criminal actions, and then analyzes seven American-produced fictional (drama) films using graffiti writers/artists as major characters and then draws generalizations about them. Although this is not a semiotic analysis of the films, to the extent possible, it delves into the settings, plots, characters, dialog, and how realistic the movies appear to be. In general, most of the films include unrealistic aspects and/or are of poor quality, and this contributes to misrepresentations of and stereotypes about graffiti writers/writing.

Keywords: graffiti, film, art, streets, crime, street art, movies, criminals, criminal actions

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K39, K42, K49, L82

Suggested Citation

Ross, Jeffrey Ian, Graffiti Goes to the Movies: American Fictional Films Featuring Graffiti Artists/Writers and Themes (July 2015). Contemporary Justice Review, July 2015; University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2685246

Jeffrey Ian Ross (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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