Does The Audience Sympathise With Gangster Movies

Influence of Gangster Movies on Audience Sympathy

The concept of gangster movies has captivated audiences for decades. With the genre gaining notoriety due to box-office hits such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and Scarface, contemporary audiences continue to be drawn to these stories of crime and crime-fighting. Many are fascinated by the topic of gangsters and their violent lifestyles, making them often sympathetic and emotionally invested in these characters.

Some observers argue that the gangster movie genre romanticizes the idea of crime, glamorizing the gangsters and condoning their methods, resulting in viewers feeling sympathy for these characters. The argument is buttressed by the fact that these films often make the gangsters into heroic, complex characters. Thus, the audience’s perception of their actions is altered and they are more likely to show sympathy for their decisions and lifestyle, implying that the writers and directors of these films may be inadvertently promoting the idea of criminality.

On the other hand, other experts argue that audience sympathy for gangster movies stems from something much deeper. They suggest that the viewers are identifying with the conflict between the gangster and the law and the way it is depicted in the film. For example, the audience may be sympathetic when the gangster has a final showdown against the police or is brought down by the legal system, as this is often seen as a heroic gesture due to their refusal to surrender. This type of scene ultimately humanizes the gangster and enables the audience to identify with their struggles, resulting in sympathy.

Moreover, other observers note that audience sympathy towards gangster movies may be a result of the fact that they often deal with stories of power politics and shifts in the balance of power between individuals, often making the audience more engaged in the plot. This is further reflected in the dynamic between the main characters and how they react to the situations they find themselves in, leading to the audience having an emotional investment in the outcome of the film.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that audience sympathy towards gangsters movies is not a universal phenomenon; the genre is often divisive and opinion-based. For example, some consider the films to be a morally depraved glorification of crime, leading to the audience’s reactions being rooted in moral judgement and disagreement with the events being portrayed, rather than sympathy.

Impact of Audience Emotions on Perception

The impact of emotion on the audience’s perception of gangster films is crucial; without any emotion, the audience’s perception of the genre would be purely intellectual and would not explore the deeper issues featured. Thus, their understanding would be limited and their appreciation for the films would be stunted.

However, when emotions are added, such as sympathy or empathy, they become emotionally invested in the films and the characters featured, allowing them to understand the themes presented more deeply. In addition, emotions can be used to provide a sense of tension and suspense, effectively raising the stakes in the films and heightening the tension. Consequently, it increases the audience’s engagement with the story, which further enhances their viewing experience.

Therefore, it is evident that the audience’s emotional investment in gangster films can be crucial to their understanding of the films and how they respond to their messages. Without emotion, their experience would be diminished and less enriched, leading to a significant loss of sympathy and understanding.

Immersion into the Lifestyle of Gangsters

Gangster films are often renowned for their detailed and immersive worlds; the audience is taken into the criminal underworld and led through the lifestyle of these characters. This provides a unique and novel perspective on criminal activity, allowing viewers to witness these characters’ lives from the night-time street hustles to the morning meetings with their bosses. Thus, this immersion provides a greater understanding of how these characters operate on a larger scale which can then result in the audience having a greater level of sympathy for their actions.

Not only this, but when filming these scenes, the directors often focus on the characters’ emotions, personalities, and motivations, which play a vital role in their decisions. This allows the audience to get a glimpse into the lives of these characters and enhances their understanding of the characters, which in turn increases the level of sympathy for their cultural and social environment. Consequently, it has been argued that a deeper understanding of the characters leads to a greater level of sympathy from audiences.

Moreover, when these characters are shown in their more intimate moments, such as moments of happiness and family life, the audience is further exposed to their stories, resulting in a greater level of empathy. This is key to understanding these characters and their lifestyles and thus allows the audience to sympathize more with their plight.

Interactions with Moral Alignment

For some viewers, gangster films present a moral dilemma, as audiences are often faced with the prospect of choosing to sympathize with the immoral activities of these characters. As a result, this often creates inner conflict within the audience, who feel moved to sympathize with these characters, despite their morally questionable actions. As a result, experts have claimed that the emotional connection these films can generate, allows the audience to see characters that are often considered to be on the ‘wrong side’ of the law from a humanizing perspective.

Furthermore, gangster films often present moral issues from a moral relativistic perspective, meaning that the moral absolutes are challenged and different moral perspectives are presented. This creates a level of complexity that can be appealing to viewers as it allows for discussion and debate and pushes viewers to consider multiple perspectives and reach their own conclusions.

Moreover, when audiences consider their moral alignment with the characters, they often find that the storylines can be seen as pro-social, as they raise awareness of the complexities and difficulties of criminal life, thus providing a more realistic portrayal of those living on the ‘wrong side’ of the law.

Perception of Gangsters in Popular Culture

In addition to viewing gangster films with sympathy, the notion of gangsters in popular culture is often centred around glamorization and romanticization. As such, the perception of ‘gangsterism’ has become somewhat distorted, with many seeing it as a viable lifestyle to aspire to. Consequently, this can lead to a perception of them as brave and noble characters, despite their inappropriate and socially condemned behaviour.

This glamorization has been captured and echoed in Hollywood, for example in The Godfather, Scarface, and Goodfellas, which have depicted gangsters as powerful and powerful figures with a level of respect from their peers. Others note that this romanticization has been further reinforced in popular culture through rap music, which has often glamorized gangsters, many resulting in an image of riches, power, and authority.

Moreover, the widespread glamorization of gangsters has also led to an increased level of admiration for the criminal lifestyle. In many cases, these films have given rise to a culture of idolization, which can create a dangerous, romanticized image of a criminal lifestyle, which could lead to a higher level of sympathy from the audience towards gangster individuals and activities.

Conclusion and Analysis

Overall, it is essential to understand that audience sympathy for gangster movies can be linked to a variety of different factors. The emotional investment that these films can generate, along with the romanticization and idolization of the criminal lifestyle, can have a major impact on how the audience perceives these characters. Furthermore, the level of detail and insight into these characters can be extremely captivating, resulting in a greater level of sympathy towards their actions.

However, it is essential to note that there is no definite answer as to whether the audience tends to sympathize for gangster movies or not as opinions and responses differ significantly. Therefore, it is still important to consider the wider context of these films, as the ways in which they are interpreted and received are greatly dependent on the audience’s understanding of the topic and their moral alignment.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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