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Film Studies: “LA Confidential” by Curtis Hanson Essay

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Updated: May 28th, 2020

Introduction

The film, LA Confidential, is an indication of innate corruption and perversion of the criminal justice system within California. Citizens are not secure because crime is flourishing, and the people meant to protect them are simply not rising to the occasion. It exposes the vulnerability of city residents, thus proving that some individuals are invisible; they can get away with anything so long as it is done in the name of justice.

Corruption in criminal justice

At first glance, the movie succeeds in portraying the immense level of violence in California. A mob-led criminal underworld, which Mickey Cohen led, was responsible for this situation. However, his departure only exposes avoid that several other criminals are willing to fill. In order to do so, they eliminate members of Cohen’s mob in order to do so. The wave of killings in Los Angeles is thus a result of disruptions in the mob world. This situation indicates the high degree of defenselessness to which residents of California are exposed. Underneath the glitz and glamour that many have come to associate with the state, is a dark side that could eradicate anyone in its way.

As the story progresses, one learns that law enforcement officers in Los Angeles, and hence California, are driven by all the wrong motives. The story under investigation cannot move forward unless all the three police officers work together. However, their personal battles come in the way of this. One is obsessed with his career, another by his love relationship and another by guilt. Nonetheless, these are not the real evils inherent in the criminal justice system. The real problem is the police subculture that allows corrupt behavior to take place indiscriminately.

First, the policemen have an unwritten law that forbids them from testifying against each other. One of the characters affirms that he is “not a snitch” while another officer claims that he would never testify against another officer, let alone his own partner. Even when one of the law enforcers, Exley, is determined to break this cycle, he must contend with a degree of chastisement from his peers. In one scenario, Vincennes took a bribe; other police officers knew about it, but none of them would report the matter. Some law enforcers also carried out shakedowns, yet none of their peers were willing to terminate this behavior by taking it forward. Therefore, systematic failure existed because the police’s sense of brotherhood was stronger than their commitment to the pursuance of justice. Such complacency came at the price of peace in California.

Police corruption is also eminent in the version of California that was portrayed in the movie. If one is to take this depiction as true, then one would realize that the criminal justice system was failing its inhabitants. It even appears that the more corrupt an officer is, the higher his chances for promotion become. The system appears to reward wrongdoers and penalizes those who play by the book. Bribe taking, racist attacks against Mexican prisoners, and hiding evidence all contribute to the successes of a series of police officers in the film. Towards the end of LA Confidential, the director does not offer any resolution to these problems. The corrupt individuals in the LAPD still continue to carry out their duties, and one gets the sense that they will continue to do so. It is evident that their conscience pricks them, but much pessimism surrounds their opportunity to change.

Corruption is not just an internal issue in law enforcement in California; it has sucked in the media as well. Therefore, another body that is meant to hold criminal justice to account has also embraced the same corrupt values. Jack liaises with celebrity magazine Hush-Hush to meet his financial needs. While cooperation between the media and the police may not always be toxic; it can easily epitomize these qualities when it is laden with illegal and unethical behavior. For instance, Jack received a bribe from the magazine in order to arrest some Hollywood actors. The media got a chance to publicize a well-known officer doing his job while the officer also got some monetary gains in return. Therefore, this relationship fuels the mess within the criminal justice system and robs citizens from having a third party that protects their rights.

Issues of racism and minority discrimination are apparent in the film. California’s police departments appear to abuse minority rights. For instance, no female officer plays a part in the developments in the film. Additionally, African Americans were mentioned in a negative light. For instance, when the District Attorney was hanged, the perpetrators blamed three African American youth for the act. Additionally, the film mentioned Mexicans negatively when they were the target of abuse in prison. Therefore, minorities are the objects of police corruption, and they allow officers to get away with their immorality.

Conclusion

California, as seen in the film, is a place where insecurity is rife because of failure in the criminal justice system. Law enforcement officers are not extraordinarily evil; they simply allowed themselves to make small compromises, which eventually propelled them into a grand corrupt structure. Racism, bribe-taking, and unconstructive police loyalty have perpetuated these failures.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 28). Film Studies: "LA Confidential" by Curtis Hanson. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-la-confidential-by-curtis-hanson/

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"Film Studies: "LA Confidential" by Curtis Hanson." IvyPanda, 28 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-la-confidential-by-curtis-hanson/.

1. IvyPanda. "Film Studies: "LA Confidential" by Curtis Hanson." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-la-confidential-by-curtis-hanson/.


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IvyPanda. "Film Studies: "LA Confidential" by Curtis Hanson." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-la-confidential-by-curtis-hanson/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Film Studies: "LA Confidential" by Curtis Hanson." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-studies-la-confidential-by-curtis-hanson/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Film Studies: "LA Confidential" by Curtis Hanson'. 28 May.

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