Gangster Film Set It Off

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Set It Off (1996, New Line Cinema) is a gangster movie that manipulates the patterns of classical gangster films to provide an alternative to the usual experience by introducing a difference in gender and race. Set It Off reflects an ironic, postmodern stance toward crime by reintroducing traditional and classical elements of genre style, while responding to a different social context by combining sexual, racial, social, and psychological elements with its representation of crime. Traditionally, in gangster films, the gangsters have been males, and the women have been shills (Gilda Mundson Farrell in Gilda, 1946), molls (Kitty in The Public Enemy, 1931), or tools of redemption (Fay in The Killing, 1957) for the men in charge of the crime.…show more content…
With the intervention of the Hays Code, the social and moral context of the films changed to include proof that crime not only did not pay, but that it had a cost, and that the good guys would always prevail in the end (Thompson and Bordwell, 2009, p. 257). In Set It Off, a late twentieth century gangster film, aimed at both African American and female audiences, the social context of the film is drawn from the organized crime that grows around poverty and a lack of financial mobility, initially transforming the meaning of the film to be that sometimes a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do – consequences be damned. Because the women’s circumstances are mitigated by gender, finances, and time, audiences are able to argue with themselves as to whether or not, just this once, crime should escape punishment. Every decision made by each of the four women has a life altering consequence, riddled with poetic justice and aggressive kismet, and with those considerations, the implicit meaning of the film becomes, your choices determine the course of your

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