Sleepers: Culture and Deviance

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Sleepers: Culture and Deviance

The movie, Sleepers, follows the friendship of four boys : Shakes, Michael, John, and Tommy. On a hot a slow afternoon, the boys play a prank on a street vendor that results in very serious consequences. The boys are sentences to The Wilkinson's Home For Boys. The time spent in the detention center alters the boys utterly and completely, destroys their innocence, and scars them physically and emotionally. Their friendship is just as strong, but that too, is changed. As adults, two boys have gone a legitimate working route: Shakes is a writer for the local paper, and Michael is an assistant district attorney. The other two boys, Tommy and John, have taken a criminal route. They are suspects in several unsolved murders, use illegal drugs, and are the founders of an Irish gang in West Manhattan. The four never forget their time at Wilkinson's, nor do they forget their friendship to each other. The film culminates their vengeance served to the guards at Wilkinson's.

The culture they are raised in New Yorks, Hell's Kitchen in the 1960's. Hells Kitchen is an ethnically mixed, working class neighborhood that the boys describe as a “place of innocence ruled by corruption”. It is it's own culture of street rules and operations. Children are safe to play and be children; however, the people that run the neighborhood are often criminals. The people running Hell's Kitchen have their own sense of street justice, and own means of carrying out sanctions against those that dare encroach upon or deviate from it. For example, there was a drug dealer that moved in on the neighborhood. The drugs that he dealt resulted in the overdose and death of a Puerto Rican butcher's son. That drug dealer was found hanging from a street light as a message that drug dealers would not be tolerated in Hell's Kitchen.

Shakes narrates that “domestic violence is practically a cottage industry in Hell's Kitchen”. By that, he meant that it wasn't...
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