Goodfellas: Foundations Of The American Mafia

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“Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut” (Quotes from Goodfellas, n.d.). This quote from the 1990 critically acclaimed film Goodfellas encompasses some of the main foundations the American Mafia is built upon. And although this film was a major motion picture created in Hollywood, it was based on a true story and kept most of the key aspects of the Mafia’s culture. The role that family played in each individual sect across the country was unified in the sense that it was, by far, the most important to every member of the American Mafia. In the Mafia’s prime (approximately 1920-1985), it shared enough values with the dominant American culture, while maintaining a good amount of differences, to be considered a U.S. co-culture. …show more content…

From the outside, their hospitality was second to none, with friendliness and charm alongside that. But if someone crossed any sort of boundary or line, that hospitality was exchanged for a Tommy gun. To once again quote Goodfellas, “Killing's got to be accepted. Murder was the only way that everybody stayed in line. You got out of line, you got whacked. Everybody knew the rules” (Quotes from Goodfellas, n.d.). One needs only to look back to the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre to understand this point. In Chicago’s South Side, Al Capone desperately sought complete control of the city during the Prohibition Era, so he allegedly orchestrated the murders of mob boss Bugsy Malone and five of his soldiers in 1929. Capone then was able to seize influence over all of Chicago (Origins of the…, 2009). However, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was somewhat of an outlier in the general scheme of Mafia families engaged in “war” (Leonetti, Graziano, & Burnstein, 2012). A typical business meeting between Mafia members would always be a face-to-face sit-down, again reflecting the values of structure, family, and …show more content…

To be exact, it was made up of five families: the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese families (Ten commandments of…, 2008). These were the families in New York, which are the “original” families to come directly from Sicily. Family was unquestionably the most important value to the American Mafia culture. It started with how someone was inducted, which involved an invitation by a close friend or relative. Then, the induction ceremony made the person a “made man,” which could also mean being reborn. However, once one is inducted to be a member of the family, there was no going back. According to the Discovery channel documentary Ten Commandments of the Mafia (2008), “Once you join the Mafia, it expects to own you: heart, body, and soul.” The obligation family members had to the cause was so intense that, even if a member’s wife was giving birth, one call to service from the member’s captain (or capo) was enough to leave his actual family for some job required by the Mafia. In that sense, this is an enormous disparity between the Mafia culture and the dominant

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