Publication Details

C. Sharp, 'The bitter taste of payback: the pathologising effect of TV revengendas' (2015) 24 (3) Griffith Law Review 500-518.


The thirst for vengeance is a timeless subject in popular entertainment. One need only think of Old Testament scripture; Shakespeare's Hamlet; Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill or the TV series Revenge, and we immediately conjure up images of a protagonist striving to seek justice to avenge a heinous wrong committed against them. These texts, and others like it, speak to that which is ingrained in our human spirit about not only holding others responsible for their actions, but also about retaliation as payback. This article seeks to problematise the way the popular revenge narrative effectively constructs the vendetta as a guilty pleasure through which the audience can vicariously gain satisfaction, while at the same time perpetuates law's rhetoric that personal desires for vengeance are to be repressed and denied. In particular, the article will demonstrate the way such popular revenge narratives contribute to the pathologising of human desire for payback.



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