Why ‘Gansta’?

20130403-141748.jpgPublished on Facebook as, ‘A DUMB WHITE GUY’s SERIOUS QUESTION’

I don’t mean to be rude, disrespectful, or stupid, but, is being a gangster a good thing? In the American “inner-city”, in the Philippines, in the young Korean pop culture community, and elsewhere, does ‘gangster’ have another meaning?

In American English, a gangster is a person from an intellectually and financially impoverished family, or a person from a rich crime family. Often s/he has been abused, neglected, and has mental issues;

A gangster–by dint of definition, if not by behavior alone–forces other people to do things they do not want to do; he is not merely involved in corruption, he is an organizer of it–or at least one of its protectors and facilitators. Often s/he is called a mafia (crime family) soldier. S/He will verbally, mentally, and physically abuse people–even kill them. Often, murder is his total job responsibility. In this case, s/he is called a “hitman”. Gangsters are responsible for drug-pushing, extortion, prostitution, slavery, and often human trafficking.

A gangster is a criminal. Sometimes s/he is a politician. Many Republican politicians in America–by evidence of their behavior, not their clothes and demeanor, per se–are gangsters. Some political gangsters in American history are quite famous for their illegal behavior, lies, corruption, and murder. A few infamous ones around the world are Reagan, The Bushes, Nixon, Kissinger, Cheney…. We need not mention the names of out-and-out (non-politician) gangsters–they are celebrated by people who do not understand why serious directors have made movies about their lives. Indeed, if one goes into a pizzeria anywhere in America, one might get the distinct–albeit sadly hilarious and embarrassing impression–that most Italian restaurant owners think that Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, James Caan, and Frank Sinatra are in the mafia and condone gangsterism; they aren’t and weren’t, and don’t and didn’t. They were and are performers. They are playing tragic characters in their movies. If My Way is about a gangster meeting his end, it is a sad epitaph, not a celebration of being a professional rebel.

Many of these people who knowingly or unknowingly celebrate the life and behavior of gangsters, perhaps do not realize that Hollywood movies about the Mafia, when done well–are serious art and social commentary, not validation, admiration, and approval of untreated sociopathic and criminal behavior.

Most terrorists are gangsters. Gangsters are a menace. Is this the same type of gangster being admired among young people, today, including rappers, Korean pop music performers & their fans, and in the Philippines and elsewhere? I am just curious.

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