Smith Jr., Dwight C. "Mafia: The Prototypical Alien Conspiracy." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: Vol. 423, Crime and Justice in America: 1776-1976, p. 75-88.
The article, “Mafia: The Prototypical Alien Conspiracy,” written by Dwight C. Smith Jr. discusses the role that the “Mafia” has played in American society, and the ways in which America has tried to deal with this issue. The term “Mafia” became popularized before the 19th century, when people began to develop conspiracy theories against Sicilians. Stemming from the Hennessey murder case in New Orleans, a stigma was developed against the Sicilian population of the town. Although there was no real proof of mob ties, these Mafia rumors lived on which led to support and implementation of immigration laws.
During the post World War II era, the “Mafia” legend was revived. Beginning with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, rumors persisted about the Mafia and immigrants. These rumors reached its pinnacle when the President’s Crime Commission agreed with the concept of a Mafia conspiracy. Smith Jr. writes that the reason behind the creation of this “Mafia” myth is to explain the failure of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to eliminate the existence of narcotics in America. By using the “Mafia” as a scapegoat for their failures, the Bureau popularized this idea. Whether or not it actually existed is debatable, but it led to changes in society.
From the popularization of the “Mafia,” those in entertainment began to capitalize on it by selling it as a product to the public. Mario Puzo wrote the book, The Godfather, which focused on the world that America was so worried about.
This article gives background into the reasoning behind the making of the movie, The Godfather, as well as providing explanation of the content of the movie. The movie is a period film, set post World War II, which as the article has shown was the era in which the “Mafia” conspiracy was being revived. In the movie, the reason that the five families began to fight was due to introduction of narcotics. At this time, drugs were a big problem in America, thus showing parallels between the period of the movie and societal problems. Also, Paramount capitalized on the publicity that the “Mafia” genre was receiving by producing Mario Puzo’s book. This led to The Godfather becoming one of the most successful movies of all time.