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a sense of joy and then a panic
a sense of joy and then a panic
bad guys, victimized communities 
Scarface and Capturing the Friedmans have more in common than you might think.  Besides both being incredibly awesome watches, that is - five out of five stars to both.  Yes, I had not seen Scarface until a couple weeks ago. 

They both revolve around "reviled villains" who have been black-marked by the society they live in - 1980s Miami, 1980s upstate New York.  After brief experiences living "the good life," something has slipped, some care has not been taken, and Tony Montana and Arthur Friedman find themselves in jail, with both their social standing and family life in ruins.  Seemingly overnight, they have become hazards to society.  Communal napalm.  And they are treated appropriately.  Their friends and neighbors have either abandoned them or left death threats through the telephone.  They've become scapegoats for a complicated illness that the whole community feels, but can't pinpoint - because nobody's going to point at themselves.  Except, of course, Tony Montana and Arthur Friedman.  True pillars of the community that they are, they will gamely carry on the mantle of their social role to their deaths.  Guilty plea, blame it on me.


Notice, however - neither Tony Montana nor Arnold Friedman are saints.  They are far from it, in fact.  CtF concludes - based off Friedman's own letters - that Friedman was a pedophile and he had acted on it (but he was probably innocent in the incredibly lurid case he was prosecuted for).  Montana smuggles cocaine and kills anyone who gets in his way, and on the side he kills anyone who gets involved with his younger sister.  This isn't Salem, Mass.  It's also not Forks, Wash., with all its "what if I'm the bad guy?" bullshit.  No, these are the Bad Guys, in-the-deed-the-glory, right down to their Inevitable Downfall. 

I wish I could find Tony Montana's speech on  YouTube, but it's all shit quality.  But here's the gist - and this takes place at a very ritzy restaurant filled with rich white people, after having chased off his wife with the admonition that she's a junkie who can't have kids - "You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say 'that's the bad guy.'  So, what does that make you?  Good?  You're not good.  You just know how to hide, how to lie.  Me, I don't have that problem.  Me, I always tell the truth even when I lie.  So say goodnight to the bad guy.  Go on.  Last time you're gonna see a bad guy like this again.  Go on.  Make way for the bad guy, there's a bad guy comin' through!" 

Victimized communities is from Debbie Nathan, an investigative journalist who first suspects all the parents are participating in mass hysteria.  Not even going to try to find that clip.  Here's the policeman's quote that sets it up: "Sometimes there'd be some idle conversation about you know, another boy was sodomized five times, but my son was sodomized six times.  As if that meant something in the overall scheme of things."  And here's Nathan: "There's a whole community atmosphere that gets created in a mass abuse case like this.  There is definitely an element when a community defines itself as a victimized community, that - if you're not victimized, you don't fit into that community."

Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste
03.19.10 (UTC)
I haven't seen either movie, but two lines stand out for me in what you've written here. One is "I always tell teh truth even when I lie"--that is an awesome line. I want to mull it over, because I think it's cool and gets to the heart of things. . . or it could be an amazing kind of bullshit. But I think, actually, it's the first thing. I think there's probably a kind of authenticity that can permeate a person's life so that even their deceit is authentic, somehow. (But my inner critic is asking, but what can that mean? What is authentic deceit?--and then the answer I'm coming up with is that it's deceit that isn't wasted and isn't trivial? Well, anyway, a great line and food for thought.

The other one is, "If you're not victimized, you don't fit into that community." That also I understand: you see it all the time in little mini communities. If a bunch of teen girls are talking about how mean their parents are--or about how violent their dads are, or how much their moms or dads drink--then it's definitely not cool to be saying, "Huh, well, my parents are okay, actually."
03.19.10 (UTC)
Yeah, that's a line that gets to a lot of people! And I'm not entirely sure what it means either. To me what comes to mind is not betraying your deep values/sense of self, even if you might not be honest about some material fact of the world. Either that or even their lie is testimony to who they are. I kind of like that one better.

Absolutely - I get the sense that there's victimized communities for almost all demographics. Women can certainly end up living in victimized communities, for example.
08.03.15 (UTC)
Great write-up. I just watched Capturing the Friedmans.
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