The media's portrayal of organized crime vs. reality...How does this entertainment interest hinder the accuracy of the public's perceptions of domestic and international organized crime?

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ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure I like the word "hinder" here.  That implies that people are trying to have an accurate understanding of organized crime and that Hollywood is resisting that.  I don't think most folks really care if their perception is off a bit or not.  Law enforcement officials know the truth, and that's what really matters.

The movies are probably a lot more exciting in their portrayal of life on a day to day basis for mobsters than it really is for those in a "crime ring."  The media focuses on "unique characters," while most members of organized crime are probably pretty dull individuals who scam just enough to get by.

Like Litteacher8 said, most old-school crime syndicates these days are not as swanky as they used to be.  The movies present the organizations, especially international ones, as unified "blocks."  The Yakuza, the Russian Mafia, etc.  International crime organizations, like their US counterparts, are likely carefully balanced groups with occasional infighting and not monoliths.

Again, though, I don't see that it matters.  If the average Joe walking around wants to think Scarface is non-fiction, where's the harm?  Though it glorifies the lifestyle, all those guys seem to buy it in the end.  Who wants to be Tony when you know, in the end, you'd probably end up floating in your own fountain?

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To the extent that criminals epitomize selfish and irresponsible behavior, I think it's possible to worry about the ways in which they are often depicted in the media, since the media do indeed sometimes tend to glamorize irresponsible behavior.

The mafia as it once existed may have declined in power, but the influence of gangs seems to have grown in the meantime. It would be interesting to see if there is any cause and effect relationship between the kinds of entertainment preferred by gang members and the kinds of behavior practiced by gang members. This would be a fascinating topic to research. A quick search of the internet turned up these two sources:




pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not think it really matters.  Movies have for years been portraying various kinds of crime and other bad behaviors in ways that glorify them.  People know that these portrayals are fictional and they do not really take them to heart in any ways that actually matter.  So people may have slightly incorrect visions of organized crime, but this does not really matter for our society.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People have always enjoyed hearing or seeing stories about people on the other side of the law; for, there is something intriguing about these people. Nonetheless, most of the these people meet death or punishment, so they are not glorified.  Sometimes, however. the film industry does glorify the depiction of organized crime to a certain extent.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Organized crime is also influenced by the entertaining mystique of mafia movies. There are no greater fans of Hollywood's glorified romantic mobsters than members of the modern syndicates. This is because the mob as we know it is long past its prime.