Monday, February 2, 2009

I'd be a Gangster.

This week in class the film we watched was The Public Enemy. The film surprised me because it contained many of the same elements that any typical viewer would expect from a modern film from the particular gangster genre. I hate to say it, but just about every gangster movie I’ve ever seen has been based off the archetype of that movie. I find this disturbing because I don’t expect any creative variety. The story lines are slightly different, but they follow the general action of the movie to a tee. The nobody crony catches a break that takes him into a higher stratosphere of criminals, until eventually he finds a way to transcend those he works with to make it to the top. Once that particular character reaches the top there is some sort of epic tragedy, and his rise is followed by his immediate fall. Take Scarface, for example. Al Pacino was a poor immigrant that rose up through the ranks of the drug trafficking enterprise to become rich beyond all measure. What’s cool about that? He’s a deplorable human being with terrible morals who makes awful judgment calls, but he’s still cool because we’re drawn to the glitz and glamour of the lifestyle he personifies. Even now people still like to emulate Tony Montana because he was a badass.Characters like Al Pacino are never destined for success because there is always someone just as ambitious as they were yearning for the chance to reach the top.

There are many references to this movie that could be made such as Scarface, The American Gangster, and even Boyz n the Hood. However, what I find relates most to this movie is the Grand Theft Auto series of videogames. The reason this identifies so well with the particular genre of movie is that it is based off the same mafia/gang mentality that the movie is trying to portray. My favorite game in the series would have to be Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The reason this is my favorite is that it gave me a look at the gang side of gangsters. In this game you take on the role of C. J. Johnson. A young African American who has been recruited by his brother for the neighborhood gang. Slowly C. J. works through all the middle men, eventually killing off most of them, to arrive at the top as ruler of the city. The reason this game was so popular was because it encompassed a type of cool most middle-class white children had never seen before. Not only was it a forbidden kind of culture, but it was looked down upon. Peddling drugs, killing cops, and fighting rival gangs was not the type of influence parents wanted their kids to have, but after playing this game my eyes were open to the reality of the world. The world didn’t only exist in Lonoke, AR, but it was vastly different everywhere. What I was conformed to was a type of small town life, that after playing this game, seemed very much mediocre. Although, I didn’t hop on the bandwagon and start selling drugs and shooting hookers I did learn that there is much to experience. My little part of the world was just that, little and insignificant.


  1. I don't think that Lonoke is as bad as San Andreas

  2. Mabey it's just me, but Lonoke's power structure has always seemed like more than what normally comes to mind when thinking about a small rural town. Of course, there is an underground economy fueled by meth and cannabis, but everyone seems to be very selfish. In saying this, I mean that everyone is attempting to use their money or their status as a public official to do whatever they want.

  3. You're right in that it does seem that ever gangster movie is the same. The characters have different names but they do almost the exact same stuff. Maybe shooting hookers is a lot of fun.

  4. Something deep down in my heart tells me that San Andreas didn't take its cues from Lonoke, but I'm sure there are some deep similarities. It's interesting that even the seediest forms of human life exist in the smallest of spaces.

    Grand Theft Auto is an excellent example of the fruition of the gang mentality. Even today, people walk around with pictures of the Godfather or Scarface on their shirts with not only the attempt of making the reference, but embodying the persona of that person. It is certainly done in a quest for cool. Do you think that kind of "cool" is destructive?