Ethnic Look at Gangs of New York Film Research Paper

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gangs of New York film

Gangs of New York" is a chronological film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is film that blend well with the novel "The Gangs of New York," written by Herbert Asbury (Asbury). The film narrates using commended historical precision, the Five Points district of New York City during the mid-19th century (Gilfoyle 620). This film includes, among other issues, a precise depiction of the grueling socio-political environment of the Five Points; at the same time accentuating on the extensive injustices and harassment caused by this society.

Gangs of New York - Executive summary

The film Gangs of New York has a high level of racism, war, and political corruption. The production of this film occurs between 1846 and 1862. The story narrates about the issues surrounding the Irish immigrants and the Americans citizens who take the name of the Native Americans. Amsterdam Vallon comes back to Five Points after 16 years, and this is after the death of his father. William "Bill the Butcher "Cutting the leader of The Native Americans killed his father, and Amsterdam is back for vengeance.

The immigrants are living a horrible life; in essence, New York is an environment that is now, survival for the fittest. Those who survive in this town, live by the power of weapon. The return of Amsterdam is bizarre and as he gets out of the ship, he observes politicians offering out food and soup to other immigrants living around the shores of the sea. One may think that the politicians are doing it from good faith and concern to the people.

However, this is just an act to entice them to vote for them during the elections. In other words, they are buying votes from the immigrants. Politicians focused much attention on the immigrants because the population was increasing day in day out and these people had a right to vote for their desired leaders. Corruption is at its highest level, in that, we see military recruiter offering citizenship and monetary to the Irish males that accepted to join the army. They are doing it openly because it has become part of their daily activities. The politicians lied to the young children by giving then hopes about a better tomorrow. This is just an incentive they use in order to meet their quotas by the end of the day. They actually did nothing to them, as they never fulfilled any of their pledges. This is something that is happening in the present day, in that, during the election campaigns, people talk about winning over the votes from either the black races or the white population.

Politicians try as much as they could and try to bring together the two races with the aim of scooping all the votes. Bill butcher despised any person that entered into America as an immigrant. His prejudice was on any person that entered America, regardless of whether they are female, male, or even children. He put them under a bracket of immigrants who should work for him. He was well aware that immigrants required resources, that is, money, employment, and other significant amenities in life, but never cared.

The immigrant did shoddy works, most of which involved committing social evils, like stealing and killing innocent souls as part of the employment. Surprisingly, the immigrants did this work as the Native Americans watched and enjoyed the outcome. This is the highest level of racism not worth mentioning. It is very irrational how a person hates another person's well-being, yet depends on his or her existence.


Gangs of New York film by Martin Scorsese narrate about the origins of New York City during the Civil War period, whereby it was yet to become a city. By then, it resembled a furnace where a city was to originate. They are ruthless and treacherous killings between the immigrants and the Native Americans. The gang leader of the Dead Rabbits dies in the process of the huge and brutal battle. His death is sorrowful because he has led this group for generations. His young son, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) continues with his life in an orphanage/reformatory.

He comes back twenty years later with the intention of fulfilling his father's wishes. Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis is the gang leader that killed, Amsterdam's father and he now runs almost everything in this sprawling town referred as "Five Points." In Five Points, Amsterdam's mind is still fresh and he can remember some of his father's loyal supporters, for instance, Happy Jack (John C. Reilly) and McGloin (Gary Lewis).

The only person that identifies Amsterdam is Johnny (Henry Thomas). Amsterdam creeps into Bill the Butcher's central circle, and when he starts to nurture Amsterdam like a son, the boy whose father died out of hatred from this man retaliates. Amsterdam also extends a helping hand to a pick/pocket/thief and some other times even helped some prostitutes, like Jenny (Cameron Diaz).

Application of the Film to the Course Learned

The film blends well with the courses tackled during our learning sessions. In our courses, we looked at race and ethnicity in the everyday life. We learned what these issues are, how they function, and why they are important on the social and economic life of people. Every activity that one engages in must have some influential factors that determine either their success of their failures. In addition, the daily activity that people engage in determines the destiny of the individuals performing them. They may negative either impact or positive impact effect on a person's life. Therefore, race and ethnicity are strong features in the society because they prissily help manage the contemporary society and play a significant function in propagating violence in the society and across the entire globe.

The course assist the learner understand that, the modern world is yet to embrace the post race environment, whereby race and ethnicity is essential to every person. Given the fact that, race and ethnicity are the fruits of the social evils and produced by human beings, there is a possibility to handle them differently. In this case, understanding the concept of racism and ethnicity is significant part in the 21st century education.

In this regard, and as discussed above, Gangs of New York blends well with the course learned in that, the film reveals the atrocities caused by the factors of racism and ethnicity. In the film, the immigrant's destiny lies in the hands of the Native Americans, in particular, Bill the Butcher. His name is very symbolic to his character, in that, he butchered immigrants that defiled his policies. Every form of atrocity addressed by Hazel Rose Markus and Paula M.L.Moya in their publication, Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century, is evident in the film. We see the aspects of racism and ethnicity being used as the pillars to managing and building the society.

Even though, we may look at them as social inequalities, they are as well applicable in forming a society. The society lies on the foundations of violence and they assume such kind of life since there is a higher authority that determines their well-being. Another problem covered in the course is the issue of ethics and war and the film covers those two issues in an extensive manner. In Five Points, war is the order of the day; people's surviving tactics lies is founded on war. People have been compelled to accept that kind of life because that is what the society provides for them. It is the survival for the fittest.

In order to thrive well and succeed in this town, one has to conform to the ruthless leadership. Sometimes the society has the power to determine the kind of life that one leads. In Five points, the society was in charge of managing everything g, including the lives of people. The society does not select the persons to benefit, every person struggles to achieve the everyday goals and make it up to the next day. Amsterdam's father is a priest, but the qualities of priesthood are absent from him, because the society disallows. His son despite of his young age knows the tactics of survival. He grows up understanding the kind of environment, and that is the reason why responds to the man that killed his father. It is after 20 years that he returns but his memory is sharp and intends to carry out vengeance. He acquired this character from the society, particularly from his father. Furthermore, he helps thieves and sluts carry on with their activities because that is the nature of that society.

Gangs of New York by Martin Scorsese support the course learned because it reveals the social evils that negatively affects the well-being of the immigrants. These are racism and ethnicity. Throughout the course, there have been many emphases on racism and ethnicity as some of the negative factors causing drawbacks in the society. This is in terms of discrimination of the minority groups…

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