In one regard, the impetus to act in a dramatic performance is the same essential desire as the incentive to commit a crime: both are active efforts at breaking free from one’s prescribed social identity. The central difference, of course, is that the one is realized fantastically and temporarily in a self-contained aesthetic milieu, mutually agreed upon by performer and audience as a fictional realm that observes certain codes and conventions, which work as safeguards protecting the real social network. Crime, on the other hand, forcefully disrupts and violates the social order by subverting its operating structure and producing negative and potentially harmful consequences for the society as a whole or its individual members.
But this fundamental distinction penetrates deeper into the human psyche than mere social cohesion. There is an essential sense of autonomy at work; more specifically, a sense of control over one’s persona, social circumstances, and very self. The actor is able to explore different identities, successfully embody other personages, and consequently can realize and exercise a large degree of control over his life. Offenders, though, often have to commit their crimes out of desperation, a feeling of limited or no control over their own circumstances, and a desire to change the cosmetic surface of their social situations as an attempt to improve their lives.