The concept of crime has always been condemned in society within any time period and culture for understandable reasons. Representing depravity and violence, criminals are typically represented in a highly adverse light, ranging from being seen as the embodiment of violence to the epitome of depravity. However, the general audience has not always followed the specified narrative, the roaring 20s being an example of gangsters being glorified and glamorized. Since the socioeconomic and sociopolitical environment of the time involved a substantial amount of mistrust to and disappointment in government institutions, gangsters were romanticized as daring heroes opposing the status quo and challenging it, which garnered them the admiration of the public.
The core reasons for people of the 1910s and 1920s to be inspired by the lies of Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde were quite basic yet nonetheless extremely powerful. Being seen not only as outcasts but as those opposing the regime, Al Capone, as well as Bonnie and Clyde, represented the ideas of personal freedom and a challenge to corrupt institutions. Moreover, fo0r the people that have been heavily affected by the outcomes of the WWI, the often-embellished stories of Al Capone’s and Bonnie and Clyde’s daring attacks and narrow escapes provided a refuge from the grim reality. In addition, Bonnie and Clyde must have attracted attention and won the admiration of the general audiences due to the romantic element of their collaboration. Seen not only as gangsters who challenged the authorities and restored justice, but also as a couple, they were significantly more relatable than other famous gangsters of the time. Therefore, the sincere appreciation for the hero archetype that these people personified for the general audience was tremendous and unwavering.
In addition, to encompass the full gamut of reasons behind the unabashed support of and admiration for Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, and other criminal masterminds of the era, one must consider the socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural contexts in which the specified people operated. Namely, the late 1910s and early 1920s were characterized by the changes that could be defined as the development of prerequisites for the oncoming crisis. The specified phenomenon is also supported by the theory of generations offered by Strauss and Howe. Though not deemed a part of the traditional academic discourse, the specified typology of generations provides a peculiar commentary regarding the cyclic nature of societal development and the interconnected nature of economic, political, technological, and social changes. Therefore, the socioeconomic and sociocultural context of crucial values dissipating and the belief in the power of state institutions vanishing, the need for a hero archetype that could provide people with the much-needed hope was attributed to Bonnie and Clyde, as well as Al Capone and other gangsters of the specified time period.
Remarkably, the admiration for Bonnie and Clyde, as well as Al Capone, contributed to impressive social changes that sent ripples broad enough to reach the present-da social context. Specifically, the prerequisites for the concept of social justice to be fully integrated into present-day society were built. Thus, the complexity of the social issues that people experienced due to the WWI and the resulting change in values has led to the current interpretation of social justice.
Due to the presence of tensions between the general audience and the U.S. government at the time, which led to the development of mistrust to and disdain for the government, the public viewed gangsters as the hero archetype to which the core qualities that people sought in their saviors from the state regime were attributed by the general audience. As a result, the admiration for people such as Bonnie and Clyde, and Al Capone stems primarily from their misrepresentation in media and among general audiences as the figures that represented a counterforce to the suffocating and misguided rule of the state authorities. Therefore, combined with the mystery surrounding these people, their public personae created a sense of resistance and charm that fascinated the American audience.
“Al Capone.” FBI. n.d. Web.
“Bonnie and Clyde,” FBI. n.d. Web.
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