Saturday, October 14, 2006

 

The Cult of Scarface: Say Hello to My Little Friend!

In 1983, Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone and starring Al Pacino, opened to luke warm reviews and protests from Cuban Americans (with cries of negative stereotyping). The film -- a loose remake of the 1932 Paul Muni version, which in turn was quasi-based on the life of Al Capone -- is laced with profanity, visually over-the-top, steeped in 80s style excess, riddled with hammy acting, and destined to be a cult classic! But who would have ever imagined to this extent? The film laid dormant for years until the emergence of Gangsta Rap embraced the film and its violent themes of upward mobility. Liking Scarface gave you street cred. Soon, t-shirts, posters, framed film stills and even figurines were everywhere. It seemed every new gangsta rapper wanted to be "Tony Montana." Songs were dedicated to the character and his violent lifestyle. Rappers' homes were decorated to imitate the gaudy opulence of the character in the film. And now, a new video game Scarface: The World is Yours, has emerged (one can presume based on the popularity of the recent Godfather video game). But all this has cemented the cult of Scarface, a cult that seems to be growing stronger and larger now, 23 years after the film's release! Film critic Joe Gayeski said it best when he wrote of Scarface, "The Baby Boomers created and hated it. Generation X discovered and embraced it on Home Video. Generation Y turned it into a merchandizing empire of epic proportions in American pop culture." So, what Scarface spinoff is next?

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