By Laura Cook Kenna
This dissertation historicizes gangster pictures and their reception, studying a large
range of media together with The Untouchablestelevision sequence; Frank Sinatra’s level
persona; The Godfather and its Blaxploitation cousin, The Black Godfather; gangster rap;
and The Sopranos. in addition to media content material, I study protests opposed to the gangster
(waged through Italian- and African-American teams and by way of media watchdogs) in addition to
popular and scholarly efforts to interpret the gangster’s that means. additional, I learn the
popular knowing of the media within which the gangster seemed (e.g., anxieties over
television’s behavioral results or estimations of rap’s “realness”).
My examine makes major arguments approximately media and id and medium and
meaning. I argue that gangster photos operated as siteand stake within the cultural
construction of the Italian- or African-American identities they represented. instead of
survey gangster photos for commonly used deviation or ideological consistency, I learn how
they incited struggles over the that means of ethnic or racial distinction in the US. My paintings
relies on archival examine in fraternal organizationrecords, Italian- and African-American
media shops, well known press, and Congressional hearings to chart how the movement of
gangster photographs provoked discussions approximately and (re)articulations of nationwide identification,
masculinity, otherness, and the impression of media upon society. moment, I argue that the
popular structures of other mediums deeply affected the translation of gangster
images whilst these buildings have been formed by means of different meanings attributed to “the
gangster.” As a perennially renowned snapshot of masculinist, violent, capitalist boost that
also mapped that ethos onto ethnically or racially specified males, the gangster photograph served
as fodder and discussion board for revisiting fears of media’s influence starting from stereotyping to the
emulation of legal habit. Gangster photos, despite the fact that, even have been largely
acclaimed as “authentic” expressions of culturally special identities—from Nineteen Seventies ethnic
auteurs to Nineties rappers. those competing structures of media varieties educated the
interpretation of gangster photos and inspired the results of boycotts, executive
hearings, and different options for (en)countering the gangster. therefore, my two-fold argument means that Americans’ understandings of media and of ethnic and racial distinction have co-informed each other within the post-WWII interval.
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Extra info for Dangerous Men, Dangerous Media: Constructing Ethnicity, Race and Media's Impact through the Gangster Image, 1959-2007
Andrew Bergman, We're in the Money: Depression American and Its Films (Chicago: Elephant Paperbacks, 1992), p. 11. and Munby, Public Enemies, Public Heroes: Screening the Gangster from Little Caesar to Touch of Evil, p. 51. 16 Dwight Whitney, "The Unlikely Story of 'the Untouchables' (Cover)," TV Guide, August 11 1962, p. 11. 17 The Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America adopted the Production Code early in 1930. ” As such, the MPPDA’s Code directly sought to enforce the punishment of screen criminals and thereby stimulate viewers’ moral revulsion rather than their sympathy.
Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America. (NYU: 2005) p. 91 21 As this persistence of ethnicity despite (and even through) mass culture applies to generational change and assimilation, Cohen has written, “Undeniably, members of the younger generation were more attracted to mainstream mass culture than their parents, but even then, their greater participation did not force them to abandon ethnic and class affiliations. Rather they used mass culture to create a second-generation ethnic, working-class culture that preserved the boundaries between themselves and others.
Mary C. Waters, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America (University of California, 1990), p. 19. Compare Werner Sollors formulation that ethnic relations operate on both consent and descent. ” Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture, p. 6. 23 Anderson points out that the very structure of modern novels and newspapers invited readers to consider their simultaneity with one another, proceeding through shared events and narrations alongside one another in community regardless of whether or not they ever meet one another.