Popular culture has been inundated with stories and images of True Crime for a long time, which is testament to people’s enduring fascination with criminals and their deviant actions. In such stories, which present actual cases of notorious crimes in a style that often resembles fiction, criminals are either reviled as monsters or lauded as cultural icons. More recently, popular autobiographical accounts by criminals themselves have begun to emerge within this True Crime genre. Typically self-celebratory in nature, such representations construct a rather glamorized public image of the author. This article undertakes a multimodal analysis of what has been classed as one typical example of this True Crime sub-genre, Australian Mark Brandon Read’s autobiographical account Chopper: From the Inside. It thereby seeks to demonstrate that the book, while glamorizing and mythologizing its protagonist, simultaneously offers scope for a qualitative understanding of Read’s life of crime and the sensual dynamics of his violent offending. To this end, the analysis focuses on some of the linguistic and pictorial strategies Read employs in constructing a public image of himself that alternates between the dangerous ‘hardman’ and the ‘larrikin’ criminal hero. However, it is also shown that Read’s account reveals a degree of critical self-reflection. In addition to the multimodal analysis, the article also endeavours to explore the link between celebrity and crime, thereby engaging with the nature of popular culture’s fascination with celebrated criminals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Literature and Literary Theory
- Linguistics and Language