If you live in New York City, surely you've noticed, over the last year or two, the absurd proliferation of Scarface iconography, usually among black and Hispanic teens.
It all started with teeshirts featuring Al Pacino's ugly mug (as the movie's titular character, Tony Montana) and perhaps the time-honored "say hello to my little friend" in the mix somewhere as well.
Then it got worse: incredibly elaborate, embroidered Scarface leather jackets started appearing on the upper torsos of wannabe bad guys all over the five boroughs. I even saw a mini van tricked out in a nifty after-market Scarface paintjob a few weeks ago. I guess the vehicle's owner didn't feel he was getting pulled over enough by the cops.
I won't get into an explication of the film itself, but suffice it to say that its "protagonist," Montana, is a thoroughly repugnant character (played by an over-the-top Pacino) who, when he isn't busy abusing his skeletal trophy wife or submerging his entire head into mountains of cocaine, is cutting his enemies and friends in half with a machine gun (or buzz saw, as the case may be). That such a completely detestable, amoral figure -- from a bad movie nearly a quarter century old -- would suddenly emerge as a hero for urban youths in the new millennium is bizarre. More than that, it's just depressing. But you know how humans are: once a few people start doing something, many, many more are bound to follow.
Teenagers behaving like sheep is one thing. I can handle that. Tony Montana, the ultimate gangsta, the ultimate tough guy. I get it. But today I saw something that made my stomach do a forward roll: on the subway platform at 86th Street, I passed a mother and her two boys -- one was maybe eight years old and the other couldn't have been more than four...
And both of them were wearing those goddamn Scarface jackets! WTF?!?
I wanted to grab the mother and shake her by the ears and scream:
Are you out of your F-ING MIND?! Scarface jackets for your damn toddlers?! Have you actually seen this movie? Have your CHILDREN seen this movie?!?!
It was surreal and ridiculous, the sight of these little kids, one of whom couldn't have been long graduated from potty-training school, wearing puffy thug jackets bearing the image of the leering Montana, AK-47 in hand, mowing down everyone in sight to protect his cocaine empire. Just precious!
My question is, who will be the next urban role model from American cinema? I say we try to get a campaign going for the date-raping, AIDS-peddling Telly from Kids.
Don't laugh -- you know it could happen.