Of Godfathers and Markets: The Politics of (the) American Gangster

  • Fabián Orán Llarena Universidad de La Laguna


This article closely examines the film American Gangster (2007) as a reinterpretation of the gangster film in light of neoliberalism. Deploying a critical framework underpinned by cultural and film genre studies, I argue the film revisits key tropes and themes of the gangster film by drawing substantially on neoliberal ideology and by addressing certain worldviews and phenomena concerning capitalist accumulation, such as Keynesianism, libertarianism and the relation between the state and private spheres. A wealth of scholarly literature has accrued that probes neoliberal capitalism as the hegemonic economic and political system of our time. However, film studies has yet to comprehensively take up the study of neoliberalism. Additionally, whether there are genre specificities in the way neoliberalism has been translated into film is a significantly underexplored area of research. American Gangster constitutes a particularly appropriate film to cohesively and unitarily tackle all those questions.

Author Biography

Fabián Orán Llarena, Universidad de La Laguna
Fabián Orán Llarena holds an MA in North American Studies (2013) and a PhD in English (2016) from the University of La Laguna. He currently works at the University of La Laguna as a full-time lecturer. He has published on contemporary American film, politics and ideology in several peer-reviewed journals in the US.


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