American Gangster Analysis

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When the Vietnam War began in 1955, America changed forever. News organizations televised the war, inducing a communal sense of disenchantment throughout America's public that led to the popularity of the anti-Vietnam movement. This anti-war movement eventually developed into a counterculture that influenced a large amount of the public to experiment with illegal substances. President Nixon saw drug abuse as a major problem and introduced a War on Drugs that simultaneously allowed him to target minority groups and worsen racism within the government. The film American Gangster takes place during the 1960s, in the midst of America's chaotic drug milieu. The film American Gangster does a wonderful job portraying America's countercultural movement, yet falls short when portraying journalism during the Vietnam War and the negative impact of Nixon's drug war on minorities.

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Part I: In the year of 1968, drugs rule the streets of Harlem, and a man named Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson (Clarence Williams III) rules drugs. Bumpy teaches his bodyguard named Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) everything he knows as he goes about his business, and Frank is well prepared to take over the streets when Bumpy peacefully passes away. However, Bumpy's funeral shows Frank that power over the drug industry is now divided amongst powerful people, and Frank is not one of them. Frank sees these people as unfit for the job and makes a vow to take back what is his in Bumpy's name
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