Gangster mythology in Howard Hawks' "Scarface - Shame of the nation"

GRIN Verlag
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Seminar paper from the year 2003 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: 1,3, Technical University of Braunschweig, 5 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Worse than the economic impact of the Depression were its psychological effects on the people: unemployment and hunger lead to moral depression, distrust, and the downfall of traditional legal norms. Consequently, criminality became a major problem which politicians did not seem to be able to stop. It was an open secret that gangsters such as Al Capone made a lot of money by trading with alcoholic beverages during Prohibition and gained a lot of political influence by this. Chicago is commonly seen as the place where gangdom first developed. Its gangster image still clings to the city today. The most prominent events and people related to the gangs of Chicago were Al Capone and the ‘War of Sicilian Succession’ which resulted in the St Valentine’s Day Massacre, leaving seven gang leaders killed and Capone as the new czar of the underworld. For the public, the adventurous and fancy life of the gang world became the symbol for the new mass culture that evolved from urbanization. The stereotype of the new criminal helped to overcome the traditional social boundaries that seemed no longer apt for the urbanized society. The gangster-movie genre, along with the press reinforced the gangster myth. SCARFACE –SHAME OF THE NATION by Howard Hawks (1930/1932) fits in with this concept. However, the movie also shows the influence the press takes in the creation of the media gangster. For this reason, it gives an ambivalent picture of the gang world in the 1930s. So is it a critique or part of the gangster myth creation? How are the historical events depicted, and how much is the representation of the gangsters in the movie predisposed by the media image of the gangster? In order to answer these questions, a short historical overview of Chicago’s ganglife at the turn of the 19th century is given and the development of the gangster myth and the role of class, ethnicity, and style is explained. The characteristics of the gangster movie in the 1930s are put into context with the analysis of Howard Hawks’ SCARFACE – SHAME OF THE NATION. The movie is furthermore analyzed with regard to the depiction of historical events, gangster iconography, and the role of the media.
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Publisher
GRIN Verlag
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Published on
Mar 8, 2006
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Pages
21
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ISBN
9783638476980
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Language
English
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Genres
Foreign Language Study / English as a Second Language
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Seminar paper from the year 2003 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1, Technical University of Braunschweig, 12 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Allen Ginsberg’s reputation as a major poet is now secure; he has outlived the other major poets of mid-century with whom he is frequently compared, such as Charles Olson, Robert Lowell, and Frank O’Hara, who with Ginsberg make up a core of writers that revolutionized the writing of American verse in the 1950s. [...] Each of these major writers gave to the main currents of verse his own unique voice and intelligence, but it was Ginsberg especially who seems to have awakened America’s youth to the powers of poetry to make stirring prophecies and to reinvigorate the spheres of politics and ideology (Christensen 215). Allen Ginsberg was part of the Beat generation, a group of young authors, among them Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and John Clellon Holmes, who created a new and unconventional kind of literature. Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” is the most popular example of the innovative and provocative writing this group produced. Whereas Robert Lowell and other confessional poets wrote about their lives in a need to confess what was on their minds, Ginsberg went one step further and confessed the sins of a whole generation. “Howl” is a combination of autobiography , apocalyptic vision, catharsis, and prophecy. So what makes Allen Ginsberg and his poetry special? How was it possible that he awakened America’s youth and reinvigorated the political spheres? Why is his reputation as a major poet secure? How did he revolutionize poetry? In which way can he be called a prophet? And if he indeed was a prophet of his times, is his literary work consequently poetry or prophecy? In order to scrutinize this question the goals of the Beat generation have to be defined: how was the term ‘beat’ coined? In the Beat movement, Ginsberg represented the prototype of a Beat writer and later became the guru of America’s youth. His tone of voice when reading “Howl” and his literary concept for his poetry illustrate the prophetic character of his work. For that matter, the book analyzes the three parts of “Howl” with regard to its rhythm and imagery.
Thesis (M.A.) from the year 2004 in the subject American Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: sehr gut, Technical University of Braunschweig, 47 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: “We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression.” This is what the nameless narrator of Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club says to define his generation, the age group which has alternately been labeled as ‘Baby Bust Generation,’ ‘MTV Generation,’ ‘Invisible Generation,’ or ‘Generation X.’ All of these terms apply to the birth cohort of the years 1961 to 1981. Since these young people are described by generational scholars as the most diverse generation in sociological history, it is not surprising that there are difficulties in finding one common label to define this birth group. The opening quote shows that the young people of this birth group seem to be in a spiritual crisis because they no longer have to fight in wars, they do not have to fight for causes – in short, they do not have to struggle through extreme situations as most generations before them had to do. Instead, they live in a world in which everything seems to be at the ready for them: tons of shopping malls and supermarkets that contain anything one can possibly think of or wish for. Yet, they experience a spiritual crisis. As many members of older generations may now well ask: How can a world of seemingly endless choices and resources be so disturbing as to throw a whole generation into crisis? Three novels that deal with the identity crisis of Generation X are analysed: Generation X. Tales for an Accelerated Culture (1991) by Douglas Coupland, American Psycho (1991) by Bret Easton Ellis, and Fight Club (1996) by Chuck Palahniuk. According to studies of Generation X literature, these three novels are typical of their time, as they deal with postmodern, or rather, consumerist culture. Hence, life in the postmodern condition presents the characters of the novels with questions and problems to which there is no definite answer. They struggle with a fragmented world and therefore, the novels show that whereas the generations preceding the Xer birth cohort had issues or events of historical scope and impact that bound them together as a birth group, it seems that the issue that binds Generation X together is their struggle with the culture they live in.
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