Movie Review – Gomorrah

Gomorrah Movie Of course, when I saw that hotel had Gomorrah available for pay-per-view, I HAD to watch it, so, I ponied up the money and watched… and it is a gripping film. Gomorrah is, of course, based on Roberto Saviano‘s book of the same title and for which Saviano is now living in hiding. It describes the ordinary and pervasive nature of the thorough embedding of the Camorra into life in parts of Italy.

The film follows different character, from the "businessman" who specializes in dumping (people who are in need of chemical or toxic waste disposal come to him and he finds places where they can be dumped), to the taylors who bid on collections for prestigious haute couture Italian houses, to the ordinary thugs (mostly young men) who control neighborhoods, to the kids who are used as lookouts and the money distributor who hands out mafia money to ordinary citizens. It is a system that "works" (in an Italy where a lot of things don’t, paradoxically, thanks to organized criminal groups). So, when two morons decide to play big bosses, it intensifies the usually subdued war going on between gangs and something has to be done to reestablish order… executions and assassinations ensue.

As I mentioned above, the terrifying part of Gomorra is how deeply embedded organized crime in the normal processes of the social structure of these neighborhoods. These groups are major agents of socialization, substitute families, agents of social control, welfare state, pension systems and political power as well as housing authority. In exchange for providing these "services", they demand absolute loyalty (or at the very least, silence) and no deviation is tolerated.

At the same time, this is the global era and local groups have to compete with immigrant groups who want in on the lucrative activities, from haute couture (Chinese) to basic drug dealing (Africans). And as much as ordinary people live these social conditions as oppressive, they also rely on organized crime because the state (local or national) is not doing much for them (is that an example of hollow state, John Robb?).

And because economic opportunity necessarily go through organized criminal groups, every new generation of kids knows exactly what they have to look forward to and usually engage in anticipatory socialization by becoming mules or couriers for the group and uncdergoing initiating rituals to become "men".

It is this deep embeddedness that, of course, makes it hard for formal authorities extirpate these groups and to separate civil society from them and also explains why they command such loyalty.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review – Gomorrah

    • Definitely, Vitalie, in the sense that the Camorra is an integral part of the social structure but one could also look at it through Foucault’s concept of micropower.

      The power of the mafia, as described in the book and film resides in the multiple social sites on which it can impose its dominance in a capillary fashion rather than strict top-down organization.

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