A Blow-By-Blow of Deviance: Analyzing the Relationship Between General Strain Theory and the Protagonist in the Film Blow

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Anomie Pages: 4 (2266 words) Published: October 30, 2014

The biographical film Blow (2001), directed by Ted Demme, depicts the life of American cocaine smuggler George Jung and his involvement with Pablo Escobar in the Medellín Cartel. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Jung was responsible for the majority of the cocaine that was trafficked into the United States. Narrated by George himself (Johnny Depp), the film follows a chronological sequence of events beginning with his childhood growing up in Massachusetts up until his final arrest as a result of the combined efforts of the FBI and DEA, in which he was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison. Being a young American in the 70s meant living in a decade burdened by political disillusionment after Vietnam, Watergate, and the Cold War. There was neither trust in our governing institutions nor faith in our administrative leaders. Plagued by economic stagnation, a decline in standards of living, and a growth in poverty, our country was in shambles and Uncle Sam's holy grail of the "American Dream" seemed to be slipping through the cracks of the shattered cultural ideology. Rosenfeld and Messner (1995) claim that the American Dream “refers to a commitment to the goal of material success, to be pursued by everyone in society, under conditions of open, individual competition” (164). The social pressures to maintain a high standard of living while feelings of paranoia and cynicism towards the government continued were surely disenchanting for any American. It would be in vain to assume that an individual such as George Jung was not influenced by these factors in his interpretation of and reaction to the strains that he encountered both as an adolescent and an adult, or rather a deviant and a non-deviant. In this essay I will use General Strain Theory of deviance to illustrate and attempt to explain an individual’s motive for engaging in criminal behavior such as drug dealing. Strain theories have been used to explain deviance since sociologist Robert Merton first...

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