Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Kristie R. Blevins

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

William McClanahan

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Dystopia is often thought of as a simple fictional device or some far off possibility of an unrecognizable Earth. But what if dystopias are actually allegorical devices warning of the long-term effects of social controls like criminalization as well as reflections on current socio-political conditions? The aim of this study was to explore cinematic dystopias and their depictions of and reflections on such themes, including how they might act as speculations on the future. Relying on qualitative content analysis, this study gathered data from three dystopic films, including V for Vendetta, Minority Report, and Equilibrium, all chosen for their criminological themes and futuristic settings. A secondary content analysis of contemporary socio-political conditions was also carried out using journal and news articles as well other media to examine similar but contemporary conditions and criminalization. Comparing the two results suggests that dystopian films act as sites in which current criminalization serves as the basis for speculating the possible dystopic nature of the future as a concept rather than a specific timeline. Therefore, this thesis adds not only to the growing literature within visual criminology, but also to everyday commentary on the current and possible long-term effects of over-criminalization, including its direct consequences in policing and punishment.