SOCI220 American Popular Culture
Dr. Nancy Wack
April 13, 2013
Gangs of New York: A Cultural Shift
In the movie “Gangs of New York”, we see a city changed and reshaped through cultural influence of feuding individuals with different ideas. The movie is about a young man, Amsterdam Vance, who seeks to avenge his father, who was brutally murder in a gang dispute, against his adversary Bill the Butcher. On the surface the movie seems simple enough but in the back ground we see a cultural shift as immigrants come into America. Also we see political influences and material possession such as clothing and other belongings set people apart and define the social status of the classes. In movie two gangs fight for dominance based on who was born in the country versus who came over from another country. Immigration was a strong issue in time period when poverty and lack of land caused a wedge between the social classes. The movie gave the impression that the Irish were trying to change the city when in fact they were just trying to blend in to the new surroundings. Contrary to popular myth, immigrants do not push Americans out of jobs. Immigrants tend to fill jobs that Americans cannot or will not fill, mostly at the high and low ends of the skill spectrum. Immigrants are disproportionately represented in such high-skilled fields as medicine, physics and computer science, but also in lower-skilled sectors such as hotels and restaurants, domestic service, construction and light manufacturing. (Griswold, 2002) As the movie continues on we see how Marxism plays a role in defining the classes. As the “winners” progress forward we see how clothing and living accommodations change as the power and money divide the city. The American gangs were defined by the clothes they wore and act according to their social superiority. Whereas the immigrant gangs struggle with tattered clothing and take minimal...