Hollywood and Crime

9:24 PM

Bonnie and Clyde: relationship goals.

Why has a culture of criminal celebrity been so ingrained into American history? A quick gloss-over of Hollywood's role.
1920's Bonnie and Clyde. 1970's Charles Manson and Ted Bundy. 2000's Bling Ring. All these and more have been shot to stardom by their infamous crimes, and have left ongoing cultural legacies. But- why? Hollywood, that's why.

All have a thread of similarity besides that of being crooks: showbiz. A combination of their accidental traits and purposeful actions were the perfect formula to breed their fame. For some of these instances, it is almost as if they wanted to be seen. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were part of a gang that robbed small- scale convenience stores and would kill when confronted. They are a couple as infamous as Romeo and Juliet, and that romance which gave way to their nationwide notoriety. But, there was something more. Look up photos of the duo, and you see (staged) gangster-esque shots with guns, cars, and tobacco pipes. Charles Manson was a 60s cult leader who executed the murders of 7 people. Throughout his trials, Manson delivered (staged) speeches when asked questions from the press or prosecution- you could even see members of his "family" mouthing the words along with him. His charisma and addicting aura attracted hundreds to his trial. Ted Bundy was a serial killer and rapist during the 1970s. He brought crowds,  too- particularly women. Bundy had a boy- next- door façade that was morosely appealing: he was handsome, well spoken, and well educated. Surprisingly, he also decided to represent himself at court. The Bling Ring was a gang of thieves who targeted celebrity homes (Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr, Lindsay Lohan) and stole over $3 million worth of goods. They returned regularly to these homes, and posted photos of their conquests on Facebook.

Hollywood, and most of the entertainment industry, has further amplified these images projected into something of movie-star proportions. Pop culture has taken Bonnie and Clyde's romance and milked it for all its worth. The 1967 film, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, portrays the lovers as sexy and stylish in a way that romanticizes their otherwise mundane crimes. Many songs by artists including DEAN, Beyoncé and Jay- Z, the 1975, Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot also pay tribute not to their criminal stories, but to their coveted love. There is even a Broadway musical about Parker and Barrow. Manson has also left a cultural legacy through acts covering his songs and even using his name (Marilyn Manson), and has regularly given interviews to outlets like Rolling Stone. Lana Del Rey's latest music video holds some nods to his harem, too. Even the word Manson is synonymous with evil in America. Ted Bundy's trial was televised; and he lives on through his "fans"; coined "Bundyphiles". The Bling Ring, less than a decade old, have been portrayed in two movies; member Alexis Neiers has been interviewed by Vanity Fair and received her own reality show on E! network. These outlets have provided America with a perspective that either seems tragically beautiful (Bonnie and Clyde) or relatable (Alexis Neiers).

These criminals, with their dramatic antics, gave something for Hollywood to work with. Seen through a century of stories, it is clear that the recipe has worked efficiently for the American public.

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