Representation and reality: The perceptions of Underbelly’s ‘true life’ characters

Anne Ferguson1, Catrin Smith2*

1 Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University
2 Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University

*corresponding author: k.smith@griffith.edu.au

In 2008, Australian viewing audiences were introduced to the factional television series, Underbelly, a programme based loosely on the so-called Melbourne gangland war of 1995 – 2004. The airing of Underbelly coincided with the real time criminal trial of one of the characters depicted therein, raising serious questions about due process and trial by media. In this paper, we analyse these events through the lens of some of the ‘true life’ characters represented in the television programme. Drawing upon in-depth interview data, we highlight the role of the media in the construction of criminal ‘others’ and the impact of this on public perceptions of crime, criminals and the criminal process.

Biography

Anne Ferguson has recently completed her doctoral thesis entitled ‘Underbelly: A Case Study in Cultural Production’. Anne is currently a sessional lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University.

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