On the wonderful blog called Welcome to My Soapbox today I read this post. I hadn't been aware of the "Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement," but I'm sure it's a fascinating side trip from the casino action, next time you're in Vegas. Her post explores the difference between traditional mobsters called gangsters and the modern ones called gangstas.
What we have here is a major racial and class divide. On one side we have white gangsters who are glorified in film and now their very own museum. On the other side we have people of colour who may be glorified in music and certain categories of film, but who are blamed for many of today's social ills, including high rates of violence in high schools and drive-by shootings, specifically in lower-class areas.
I have absolutely no problem with her analysis, my only complaint might be the spelling of the word "color," but I wouldn't want to quibble.
What it made me think of, though, is the long-standing debate about whether this genre of films harms the reputation of Italian-Americans. I've heard of folks who bad-mouthed Mario Puzo for having done more to hurt the standing of the great Italian people than anyone ever.
For me, the cinematic entertainment is too good to pass up. I suppose in Middle America, where there are very few ethnic people, the complaint could have some merit, but personally I don't care much. The two Godfather movies alone would make it all worth it, as I've said before.
What's your opinion? Do movies have that much power? Should they? Do Spike Lee movies glorify blacks? Do mafia films denigrate Italian-Americans?