Opinion: We’re living a real gangster movie


For nearly a century, dating back to the early 1930s, America has been in love with gangster movies.

James Cagney shot to fame as an Irish thug in 1931’s “The Public Enemy.” His sadistic stare as he prepared to mow down his rivals paved the way for a slew of Warner Bros. crime films. during this decade, many of them with Cagney or Edward G. Robinson.

Perhaps the two most memorable gangster movies are 1972’s “The Godfather” and 1990’s “Goodfellas,” both about the Italian mafia in New York City. Both remain popular today. Another good one is the 1983 remake of “Scarface,” which featured the twist of a Cuban exile rising to the top of Miami’s drug market. The original, of course, came out in 1932.

It’s long been clear that gangster movies make money. The stories are interesting and there’s plenty of gunplay – think Michael Corleone gunning down a rival mobster and a corrupt police captain in an Italian restaurant; or the murder of Sonny Corleone at the tollbooth.

Everyone complains about “true” crime, but for many, violent entertainment is a guilty pleasure. It’s no surprise that Hollywood is addicted to guns and blood, because so are its viewers. They have been for 90 years.

And really, it’s just a harmless movie or TV show – until it starts hitting closer to you. Unfortunately for McComb and Pike County, these gangster crimes hit home.

The most recent death occurred on Friday, when a gunman broke into a Lincoln County building with a recording studio and fatally shot a 22-year-old Pike County resident. Obviously he was the target, as authorities said no one else in the building was injured.

To make the case more eye-catching, the victim had been charged with murder in the 2020 shooting death of a 20-year-old. But he claimed the gun was fired by accident and a grand jury recently declined to indict him.

Two men were arrested in Friday’s shooting, but no information on their motive has been released. It seems clear that this was far from a random attack, and it also seems sadly clear that a few young black men in this area declared themselves open to each other.

That’s a horrible thing to say. But this year’s repeated gun violence in the McComb area, dating back to the four teenagers accused of killing a 6-year-old in a gang retaliatory drive-by shooting at Oterious Marks Park, can only drive to this conclusion.

Worse still, some people over the age of 16 to 22 encourage these shootings. Teenagers can be speared by “The Godfather” all they want, but they can’t get sucked into gunfire and crime without the help of experienced hands.

Law enforcement, as much as they can, must focus on these enablers with the same energy as they do on gunmen.

So far, however, efforts to stop the bloodshed have failed. The gunshots continue. Can anyone reach these young killers?

—Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal


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