Posted: June 5th, 2021
Warshow began the essay saying “America is committed to a cheerful view of life”. Warshow is referring particularly to the movies but also to comic books and pulp fiction . Those that perpetuate the notion of what constitutes the gangster himself but also his environment, motivation and modus operandi. The intolerable dilemma is that failure is a kind of death and success is evil and dangerous, are ultimately impossible.
The effect of the gangster film is to embody this dilemma in the person of the gangster and resolve it by “his death, not ours, we are safe for the moment and can acquiesce in our failure, we can choose to fail. This essay makes me think that most gangster movies can help and also hurt the viewer. It all depends on the state of mind of the individual. Watching movie such as “New Jack City” and “Menace to Society” made people in my community act out, not in a fearful way but in a more gangster way. More crimes took place after young viewers watched these types of films; maybe in the suburbs people felt safe but not in our neighborhood. Movies such as these were made to show people the rise and fall of a gangster. However it depends on the individual that watches these types of films and what they gather from it.
Take for instance, if a person has never been to the projects and had seen this type of activity take place; they may watch one of these films and not get Influenced by it . On the other hand, people who live in the projects that see drug dealers and so called gangsters, begin to glorify this kind of lifestyle because this is what they see on a day to day basis. Warshows’ intolerable dilemmas sometimes resolve in our death. Some people can see a film and know in the end that the gangster will end up dead or on a bus to prison but for some reason that never scares them from trying to get the same fame that the gangster has in the film.
Take for example, the film “New Jack City “staring Wesley Snipes as the notorious Neno Brown; it shows two sides of a gangster. Neno kills people over drugs and territory but the film also shows him feeding the poor on Thanksgiving and handing money out to children and preachers. Neno starts out as an average street hustler with dreams of one day being a drug kingpin. His dream seems to be reachable when his brother introduces him to the new drug crack cocaine. Neno then builds a street team to help run his empire. He operates his crack business the same as any other business like Wal-Mart.
In a way Neno was like a ghetto Robinhood. He robs the rich and sells dope to the poor. This is what makes this essay one sided. People living in the ghetto are simply products of their environment. They are simply forced into this life that is fictional to others. A gangster’s motivation is always something he feels like he has first and before anyone else. It may be a new car, jewelry or a luxury home. Most movies about a fictional gangster are always stemmed from a real person that has already failed as a gangster, either dead or in prison.
Most of the gangster movies we watch today are real life stories. Filmmakers just put a twist on the story and change the names around. People from the lower class watch these movies and often blur out the bad ending rather than being in fear of the same ending happening to them. Most gangster movies have a hero from both sides. The lower class people root for the villain while the middle and upper class root for the main detective that usually brings the gangster to his untimely demise.
Most kids are fascinated with gangsters because of their lavish and glorious lifestyle that are portrayed by he media. Lower class children do not live next door to doctors or lawyers so they do not glorify their lifestyles . They can just turn on the television and see a gangster anytime they want and to some, glorifying a gangster is real and gives them something to believe in. When they see a gangster in the neighborhood, everyone is nice to him out of fear not respect but as a child, he will grow up thinking that type of lifestyle is o. k. because everyone will be too scared to tell him that this individual is scum and that he does not want to be like him when he grows up.
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