Pop Culture Analysis in the Movie Goodfellas
The critic article under consideration in this analysis is one published in the Joblo blog, in 2012, as part of the ‘Unpopular opinion’ series written by Alex Maidy. The critic strongly expresses his dislike for the film ‘Goodfellas’, directed by Martin Scorsese. The critic expresses his dissatisfaction with the choice to follow the life of Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, as the lead character in the movie, objectively pointing out that the movie is more frequently associated with the other two supporting actors, Robert De Niro who played James Conway and Joe Pesci playing Tommy DeVito, as their characters were more profound in the movie. The critic dismisses the argument that the character by Liotta was intentionally written to possess an everyman persona so that audiences could relate to the film.
The argument is that Henry Hill was not a classic depiction of an unsympathetic character in the film and was very blunt and uninteresting. There is also a highlight on the fact that even in the many awards and accolades that the movie has received over the years, none was for the character. The critic emphasizes that this particular film was the coming of age debut for Scorsese, the beginning of his legacy and should not be considered his greatest film.
The film, Goodfellas was and continues to be a monumental film in the genre and has notably influenced the portrayal of characters in gangster movies. The film offers a bold and dare I say, more realistic look into the Mafia scene in New York at that time. Henry Hill’s character in the movie was very necessary and performed to the intent of the writer and director. Meeting the character as an impressionable kid in the streets of New York with only dreams of being a criminal, the film explores the mentality of a character who is so determined to survive and thrive in the only way he knows how and seeks to rationalize the decisions he makes. ‘As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster’, these are the words of a young Henry Hill grew up in a community where being a criminal was the absolute rank of power and glamour. ‘To me being a gangster was better than being the president of the United States’, he says as he gleefully describes the life of crime that he so desperately aspired to.
That was all he knew, all he wanted really. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that he dropped out of school and started hanging out with criminals. His family was not associated with the mafia, he was not even Italian, he was just an Irish-American boy that was greatly influenced by environmental stimuli to pursue the life that he chose.
The behaviorism philosophy strongly emphasizes the role of the environment in conditioning decision making and internal and external behavior in people. ‘To me, it meant being somebody in a neighborhood full of nobodies,” Hill says this is one of the earliest scenes of the film. From that one could infer that for Hill, it was not a matter of morality or conscious thinking, he just wanted to be remembered. Looking around, his father was not leaving any legacy working as an electrician so he looked to those men in his community that was respected, the Mafia. He was directly affected in this instant by his environment to make the decision that he made over the next two decades of his life and the actions that he would take. He dropped out of high school to join the mafia in pursuit of his dream. He was enamored with the idea that he could command respect just by being a gangster, and he did. He loved life, ‘anything I wanted was a call away,’ he said.
Then things started to go sour and bodies started dropping, and even then behaviorism played a critical role in his decision making. When he realized that he was never going to be a capo régime in the mafia, after his ten-year stint in prison, he comes out and tries to build his own cocaine business, against Paul Cicero, who was supposed to be his mentor. He could have chosen to leave the game and find a job, but remember he is conditioned that the only way he is ever going to be anybody is if he is a gangster. He makes decisions and actions to validate this conditioning.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below