Contributor: Rex Walls
I grew up watching Scarface.
There was a solid year or two in middle school where I felt like that was the only movie I watched.
I could recite every line, I knew every gesture. Hell, in my mind I was Scarface.
Picture my mom walking into my bedroom at 7 in the morning to tell my 11-year-old-self it’s time to get ready for school.
“Mom, the only thing that gives orders in this world are balls. Fuck should I listen to you? Who do I trust? ME, THAT’S WHO!”
Okay, maybe I’m embellishing a bit, but you get my point. I absolutely adored the power and prestige of this film.
Most people my age aren’t aware, but when this movie was released in 1983, it was received with widespread negative reviews. Critics and the public hated the violence and graphic language it was laced with. Rumor has it that a few celebrity guests walked out of the premiere after the now iconic chainsaw/bathroom scene.
I took a look at the list of movies that grossed more money than Scarface the year it was released. Forgettable titles like Micheal Keaton’s Mr. Mom and John Travolta’s Staying Alive stood out.
But there aren’t any Mr. Mom t-shirts being sold or any Staying Alive posters hanging in college dorms. More than 30 years later, Scarface is the one that hung around.
So what changed from then to now? What morning did the world wake up and decide that this film was actually a classic?
Director Brain De Palma and writer Oliver Stone were waaaay ahead of the times when they created this movie. Unbeknownst to them, they were creating the soundtrack that inspired an entire facet of the hip-hop generation.
This story perfectly illustrates the struggle of the outsider trying to fit in. The underdog scratching and clawing his way to the top.
It’s a story filled with guns, drugs, women and luxury cars.
Rappers like The Geto Boys and Ice-T told Tony Montana’s story in their raps over and over, sometimes with direct quotes.
No one predicted America’s fascination with a criminal’s rise to the top. But now, it’s become the new American Dream.
Look at the former drug dealer Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter. You can turn on your local news right now and find a report on him and his wife Beyonce’s baby bump.
Or what about gangster rapper Snoop Dogg’s cooking show with Martha Stewart, or the allure of Tupac Shakur?
What was frowned upon in 1983 is now considered illustrious. Provocative even.
After a rough start, Tony Montana has aged wonderfully over the years.
Kinda makes me wonder what movies we are “getting wrong” today.
Only time will tell.