Sleepers: Culture And Deviance
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Sleepers: Culture and Deviance
The movie, Sleepers, follows the friendship of four boys : Shakes, Michael, John, and Tommy. On a hot a slow afternoon, the boys play a prank on a street vendor that results in very serious consequences. The boys are sentences to The Wilkinsons Home For Boys. The time spent in the detention center alters the boys utterly and completely, destroys their innocence, and scars them physically and emotionally. Their friendship is just as strong, but that too, is changed. As adults, two boys have gone a legitimate working route: Shakes is a writer for the local paper, and Michael is an assistant district attorney. The other two boys, Tommy and John, have taken a criminal route. They are suspects in several unsolved murders, use illegal drugs, and are the founders of an Irish gang in West Manhattan. The four never forget their time at Wilkinsons, nor do they forget their friendship to each other. The film culminates their vengeance served to the guards at Wilkinsons.

The culture they are raised in New Yorks, Hells Kitchen in the 1960s. Hells Kitchen is an ethnically mixed, working class neighborhood that the boys describe as a “place of innocence ruled by corruption”. It is its own culture of street rules and operations. Children are safe to play and be children; however, the people that run the neighborhood are often criminals. The people running Hells Kitchen have their own sense of street justice, and own means of carrying out sanctions against those that dare encroach upon or deviate from it. For example, there was a drug dealer that moved in on the neighborhood. The drugs that he dealt resulted in the overdose and death of a Puerto Rican butchers son. That drug dealer was found hanging from a street light as a message that drug dealers would not be tolerated in Hells Kitchen.

Shakes narrates that “domestic violence is practically a cottage industry in Hells Kitchen”. By that, he meant that it wasnt unusual for there to be violence in the home while the family remained intact. The only way out of a marriage was by death of a spouse. While it wasnt literally an industry, it was certainly a way of life and social dynamic in Hells Kitchen.

While the rest of America was engrossed in Vietnam, free love, and moon landings, Hells Kitchen was insulated from it. The boys see that Hells Kitchen is on its own—that the radical groups and social changes on the news couldnt care less about Hells Kitchen.

The culture of the Wilkinsons Home For Boys is similar

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Illegal Drugs And Hells Kitchen. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from