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The 1970s marked the beginning of a time where filmmakers like Martin Scorsese were able to make ethnicity appealing through the many depictions of their ethnic characters. Scorsese was interested in doing work that would embrace his own ethnicity. His films, gritty and violent, add much to the characterization of the figures like the gangster. He is also able to balance these rough backdrops and characters with religion, marriage, and family life. In addition, according to Bernard Beck, Scorsese attempts to make his characters speak to the audience so that they are viewed as any one individual in the audience. This technique helps to garner sympathy and support for his characters, many of whom are gangsters (94). Furthermore, Scorsese is noted as being a new kind of filmmaker. Robert Kolker writes that Scorsese’s films are “made self-consciously and are about self-consciousness” (89). We see this at work with Travis Bickle’s paranoia in Taxi Driver (1976) and with Jake LaMotta’s fluctuating weight in Raging Bull (1980). We also see this method in more detail when we see Tommy DeVito’s character come face to face with his own masculinity issues in Goodfellas (1990). Scorsese’s characters “try to fight the world’s imposition on them and impose their own will and spirit back on the world” (Kolker 91) much like Scorsese does in his process of filmmaking. This panel seeks papers / presentations that concentrate on the work of Martin Scorsese specifically the images of his characters through the lens of masculinity, paranoia, gangsterism, or obsession with violence.
Professor, Department of Language and Literature
President, Faculty Senate
Literature Coordinator, Language and Literature Department
Vice President, Communication and Marketing, Italian American Studies Association
Vice President (immediate past President), United Faculty of Florida - State College of Florida Chapter
State College of Florida