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How is this violence supposed to work on us as viewers?We are offended by excessiveness of the violence and cannot understand why Karen doesn’t runWe, like Karen, are turned on by the violence (we smile when he punishes the bad man)Scorsese wants our reaction to be a complicated one, both horrifying us and indicting us in complicityMarried to the MobWhat is this world likeSeemingly very ethical, very family values, etc. But each of these seems like over-compensation, like naming all of the children after Peter, Paul and Mary. Showing the extent to which such features of the Catholic façade are part of the masking of the real immoral world of the gangster.
Karen feels welcomed, safe, and has the dream of material wealth and comfort realized for her. In many ways this is her dream (“Life is but a dream”) as a woman growing up in the American suburbs of the 1950s.Making the violence normalHere, by never letting any outside influence in, the situational morality of the gangster world is shown. It is not really all that glamorous by this point: The women have bad skin, the life is very mundane. So whatmakes it stand out are just the elements of conspicuous consumption that access to material wealth grants. In this sense, it is not that unlike the suburban life as shown in The Graduate last week (just less appealing).One of the symptoms of truncated or foreclosed sense of meaning is the psychology of the men who are trapped in this world.Respect and Ego-fragilityThe narrative turnsOne of the features of the noir film is a moment when the tragedy starts, when the narrator can no longer get off the train, so to speak, since the crime has already set the machine of cause & effect into motion. .In Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder (1944) this is described as follows by the inimitable Edward G Robinson:Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder (1944)The turning pointIn the Noir film, this usually ends badly.In this case, it is not a transgression against civil or criminal law, but mob law. Again, note the use of the music to heighten the narrator’s sense of alienation from the act…or of realizing that this is wrongHenry KnowsHenry knows, having well interpolated the laws of the gangster world, that this is bad. Yet Jimmy’s prior categorical maxim (`never snitch, never rat on your friends’) combined with a growing awareness of Tommy’s capacity for violence traps him.Tommy’s psychology can stand in for an extreme version of the gangster. Ego fragility (his macho bravadoand inability to keep a girl are symptoms) which is compensated for by extreme acts of dissociative violence. More and more, as Tommy’s sense of being “above the law” grows, he spins out of control. So contrary to Henry’s earlier assertion to Karen that he is with people who are smart and who won’t get caught, he is now surrounded by crew members -- and world- that is spinning out of controlSpinning out of controlLying to Paulie: The only lying that really mattersBad for businessThe instability caused by Tommy and later by Henry as he loses his sense of bearings (symbolized by his marriage to Karen spinning out of control) is bad for business. Paulie, as the head of a social order, wants