David Ray Papke, Marquette Law School, has published Muted Message: Capital Punishment in the Hollywood Cinema as Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 12-25. Here is the abstract.
Contemporary Hollywood films seem at first glance to be opposed to capital punishment. However, this article’s consideration of five surprisingly similar films (Dead Man Walking, The Chamber, Last Dance, True Crime, and The Life of David Gale) finds they do not truly and consistently condemn capital punishment. Instead of suggesting that the practice of capital punishment is fundamentally immoral and should in general be ended, the films champion only worthy individuals on death row and delight primarily in the personal growth of other characters who attempt to aid the condemned. In the end, Hollywood offers only a muted message regarding the on-going use of capital punishment.Download the paper from SSRN at the link.