Ghost Dog as Satire

Ghost Dog had a lot of satirical elements in it, mostly about gangsters.

Obviously, the gangsters are awful–and they know it. They’re old men whose glory days are far behind them. They’re undignified. One of the bosses needs a hearing aide and still has to shout everything. Louie could barely manage to write a small enough message for Ghost Dog. His buddy in the apartment was flailing around trying to catch a bird for over a minute. The boss of this mafia was talked down to by his landowner since he’s 3 months behind on rent. One of them even says that at least they get to die like real gangsters. In Louie’s final shootout scene, he overdramatizes it and Ghost Dog even calls him out on it.

Then we have Ghost Dog. He’s a fat Japanophile¬†that takes himself way too seriously, believing himself to be a protector of some ancient, better way of living. When he moves in a fight, the film is edited to make it look like he’s making afterimages with fades of the last few frames, and they add in “whoosh” noises. He twirls his guns before holstering them. Everything he does is over-the-top samurai, and juxtaposed with the city, he’s ridiculous.

Last is the cartoons. So many major actions in the films reflect cartoons. Paralleling their actions with the unrealistic caricaturized antics of the cartoons further points out how completely absurd and unrealistic the action of the film is.

To me, it all points to a message about not taking things too seriously, and to beware of romanticizing things.

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