Criminological Theories of Crime and How It Relates to the Movie Juice
Marké Cierra Wrisborne
University of Texas at El Paso
CRIJ 3313: Criminology
Juice is a movie that was released in 1992, about four teenage friends that live in inner-city Harlem, New York. Quincy Powell, Roland Bishop, Raheem and Steel are skipping school one day when they find out one of their old friends was killed due to gun violence in one of the local bars. Roland Bishop also referred in the movie as Bishop, tells the others they have no respect or power also referred to as the “juice”. The four teenagers decided to purchase a gun and rob a local convenient store to earn the respect or “juice”. Things began to go left when Bishop lets the power of having a gun get the best of him and shoots the store’s owner. Bishop then begins killing off his friends starting with Raheem, when he tried to take the gun away from Bishop after leaving the scene of the convenient store. He later tries to go after Steel and Q and becomes only out for himself.
He tries to frame Q for what happens after the rest of the movie even, tires to pin Q for the shooting of Steel, but it doesn’t work Because Q quickly realizes what is happening. Bishop dies in the end when he and Q had gotten into an altercation in which Q got the upper hand and Bishop nearly falls off the roof top. He Begs Q to pull him but its does not work and Bishop falls to his death. While walking a way form the incident a man tells Q he has the juice now, but he doesn’t want it, if that’s what it took to get it. In this particular research paper, I will focus mainly on he characters of Q and Bishop, because those are two of the more prevalent characters throughout the movie. In doing so, I will apply the theories of Social Learning, Social Disorganization and Strain to how it relates to each of their characters in the movie.
Q or Quincy Powell is the character played by Omar Epps. Q has aspirations of competing in the local DJ competition. From the beginning of the movie Q is set apart from all the other friends in his actions and his thought process. Q has aspirations to make it out of the hood along with his family. He also has a little brother that looks up to him. I also see in the movie that Q’s mother is the only mother seen in the movie unlike the other friends. Q questions his priorities a lot during this film starting when he is hesitant to go through with the robbery thinking it could ruin his chances of competing in the DJ competition, and the slight chances of this robbery not being successful. He also questions his priorities in the end of the movie when he fights Bishop. Q gets rid of his gun because he didn’t want to be considered a murderer or a killer like Bishop. He wanted to fight Bishop the old fashion man- to- man way and not use the power of a fire arm, even though he knew Bishop would not want to do the same. Lastly, in the end, Q tries with everything in him to save Bishop even after all the things he had done because juice wasn’t important to him. Bishop on the other hand played by Tupac, is know for being the crazy and aggressive one in the group from the beginning. It was Bishop’s idea to commit the robbery to gain the juice. Bishop throughout the movie always goes too far, for example when he says to get juice they had to rob a convenient store, or when he kills the owner, or when he doesn’t want to give up the gun, even if that meant loosing all his childhood friends. Lastly, when he begins to kill off his friends even though they didn’t point him out to the cops about Raheem’s death after becoming addicted to the thrill of killing and having the the power or juice. They also had stood behind him up until this point of after Raheem’s Death.
Throughout the movie, it was interesting to see the different offending patters of each character. Q for example, only offends in a group setting with his friends. Q also has more to loose, when it came to going through with the criminal activity. He really takes the time to think about what he is about to do and how it may affect him. Without his friends, Q wouldn’t have gone through with the crime that jump started the movie. One again referring to the robbery Q was hesitant because he didn’t want to let down his brother and also his mother, but he also seems to be the one who doesn’t really want to live a life of crime or be considered a killer. The viewers can definitely see that most of the crimes he commits were done out of peer pressure. Another example would be when he is at the police station, although he was afraid he never pointed out Bishop for being responsible for Raheem’s death because he knew the consequences of of telling on Bishop, and the fact that’s his friend. Loyalty was important to Q, that was prevalent in most of Q’s actions.
Bishop for instance, does most of his offending alone or if he does decide to commit crimes in a group he has to be the dominate one, giving all the orders of how its done and how to carry on from that moment forward. Mainly, this difference in offending could be due to the background of each character. Yes, both boys were life long friends who live in the same hood, but they had different individual lives within their specific homes. Bishop has little family around and his family is barely mentioned in the movie at all. His friends had been his family before he let the thrill of having a gun and the juice surpass his loyalty to his friends. Bishops dad is mentioned in the movie but only in a short snippet. He confides in the local game shop owner where he would spend most of his time. Even then it’s the thrill that’s more important to him to his relationships with people, because it was to lie to the owner about Q. Q lived a little different than the rest. Q had a younger brother who looked up to him and out of all the friends he has big aspirations to make it out and do big things. Q is talented and the movie is pretty much seen through his eyes. One important fact that I seen in the movie was that Q’s mother is seen in the movie and is a prominent character.
After watching the movie, I decided to apply the Social Learning, Social Disorganization, and Strain Theory to the characters because they were the most befitting. “Social Learning Theory by Albert Bandura in 1977 states behavior is learned from environment through the process of observational learning” (McLeod, 2011). This theory applied to both Q and Bishop because, they committed the crime of the robbery due mainly to their environment. In their neighborhood robberies are common, they happen all the time. It sometimes could even happen by people the boys knew. This theory also applied to both characters in referring to the juice. Both characters knew exactly what the juice was, it was power gained/taken. The juice is something Bishop and Q thought they could get by robbing a local convenient store. This is important because in understanding what the juice was one has to understand how to get it. Both boys learned that you could get power by committing crimes as they had seen and learned from others who had the juice. One example is the man in the beginning who killed their friend at the local bar. In Bishops case in particular he wanted the juice because he seen other people had gotten and he seen what it took to get it. According to the Bandura Social Learning Theory people are “more likely to attend to and imitate those people it perceives as similar to itself. Consequently, it is more like to imitate behavior modeled by people the same sex as it is” (McLeod, 2011).
Bishop seen the people who had the juice as people who were just as he was, they had guns and they committed crimes just as Bishop had learned how to do throughout the movie. Bishop’s character’s behavior can be applied to the connection between the Social Learning Theory and the low self- control theory which focuses on “linking low levels of self-control to delinquent involvement and liking contact with delinquent peers to antisocial behavior”. (Beaver, 2009). Lastly, throughout the movie, Bishop is seemed to have lower self-control compared to Q because Bishop did a lot of his offending off impulse he didn’t really think any of his criminal offending through such as Q did. The Social Learning Theory could be particularly applied to Q because all of his criminal behavior was learned through his neighborhood and through his friends mainly Bishop.
Social Disorganization can be applied to both characters. “The Social Disorganization perspective developed out of the University of Chicago during the 1920’s” (Regoeczi, 2013). “According to Shaw and McKay’s (1942) work on n urban communities, high levels of residential instability and poverty result in communities that are socially disorganized, in turn producing high rates of juvenile delinquency” (Regoeczi, 2013). This applies to the character of Q and Bishop because all throughout the movie it is noticed that their urban neighborhood is social disorganized and there is a higher rate of crime and that seems to be normal. The movie begins with them robbing a convenient store and also finding out that their friend was killed. All of the crimes being committed in the movie are crimes committed by juveniles. “The first interconnected factor of Social Disorganization theory is family composition (single- parent households) because having fewer two-parent families in a community typically results in less adult supervision and fewer role-models (Sampson, 1997)” (Madyun, 2012). Both Q and Bishop both came from single-parent homes and throughout the movie, both characters were unsupervised by an adult when it came to their offending patterns. They also share the aspect of not having may role models, except for maybe the owner of the game shop, but even he was not there when they were offending.
The Social Disorganization Theory can also apply to both the characters looking at the the neighborhood in response to crime rates and the type of crimes being committed. The crimes tend to be more violent such as murder, because that is the crime happening in the neighborhood, not petty crimes. Lastly, this theory can apply to Q specifically in discussing how a disorganized community can lack legitimacy “this includes fear of realization from member of the community who become aware they have cooperated with police (Anderson, 1999)” (Regoeczi, 2013), for example when he doesn’t sell our Bishop to the cops about Raheem’s death because he knows that could come from consequences from Bishop. Q was more afraid of Bishop than the police because the police in that neighborhood lacked legitimacy.
Lastly, the Strain Theory, “demonstrates a purpose of how an individual’s responds to life demands, obstacles and social environment” (Huck, 2017). “the Strain Theory benefits from the confluences of social and psychological variables explaining crime delinquency (Agnew, 1992)” (Barrera, 2016). In the movie, Bishop wants the juice so he will do anything to get it, even if that means he hurts people in the process. In doing so, he is responding to the social environment because he sees other people that has the juice and he wants to be like them. All he has known in his life is crime and his neighborhood. On the other hand, Q responds to strain by thinking through his actions the good and the bad. Q has a lot to loose, so he is not as willing to just give into the life of the streets. Q also has people depending on him to make it such as his little brother that looks up to him and he basically thinks he could do no wrong. Q is one of the lucky ones in this movie because he didn’t give into the strains in his life. For example, when the man at the end tells him he has the juice, Q doesn’t want it, if it meant that’s what it took to get it. Deep down I don’t think Q ever wanted the juice, he went along with it in the beginning cause that’s what everyone else wanted, like Bishop.
After watching and analyzing the movie, I felt as if the movie taught an important lesson of what people are willing to do for the juice or power. Both characters had many theories that could be applied into their everyday life. I chose to apply Social Learning, Social Disorganization and General Strain because, those were the ones that stuck out more in the Movie. Social Learning Theory applies to both characters they developed their motivations to commit crime because of the people they knew and associated with. I think If they had better friends to associate with and lived in a better neighborhood that has less crime or crime is uncommon, neither of them would’ve committed crime in the first place. Social Disorganization Theory applies to Bishop because he committed crime due to his social environment. He is living in the hood where the crime rate is higher, poor schools, and vandalized buildings. He also came from a single parent home. Once again a better neighborhood and and better living conditions could have stopped him from committing crime. Lastly Strain Theory applies to Q because deep down he had aspirations to get out. He didn’t really want the “juice” and he had a younger brother, so he was more careful with his actions. If Q’s environment was better and his friends didn’t commit crime Q wouldn’t have gone through with anything in the criminal activity. Overall, this movie had great meaning. I think after analyzing the movie and putting them with their associated theory it helps me understand the meaning of the theories better.
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