Judith van Erp
Anti-cartel thrillers as a new film genre: How regulator-produced films portray and problematize cartels and communicate deterrence
This article directs the ‘visual turn’ in criminology to corporate crime, a topic that has been understudied by cultural criminologists. A recent trend of corporate crime movies suggests that film can compellingly critique economic crime and unethical business cultures. This article studies how law enforcement agencies, particularly competition authorities, have connected with this trend by using film in their communicative strategy. This article introduces the emerging genre of anti-cartel enforcement thrillers: regulator-produced realistic docudramas in which fictional cartels are exposed and punished. These films’ narratives about cartel enforcement are reconstructed by studying how the films portray cartels, perpetrators and their motives, and the regulator. An analysis of four films produced in four jurisdictions demonstrates that the films deter only to the extent that the local legal and political-economic context allows: the British film reflects that country’s neoliberal ‘pro-business’ climate, while the Swedish film depicts businesses as socially responsible and the Dutch film is pragmatic rather than moralistic. Only the Australian film is explicitly punitive in its narrative as well as its imaginary, and exemplifies the persuasive potential of film in enforcement.