For example, film reviewer Deepa Gahlot notes a 2002 survey that found 90 percent of American men and 35 percent of American women admitted they were fascinated with the mafia lifestyle (Gahlot, 2002).
Essentially, Gardaphe and other researchers argue that the myth of the Italian gangster has allowed American audiences to cinematically oppose the Protestant work ethic while at the same time reaffirm their belief in its value. In media-generated images of the mafia, the gangster succeeds by stealing money rather than working hard (Comeau, 2000). Thus Gardaphe argues that the American fascination with the mafia lies in its connection between criminality and capitalism. The gangster is often portrayed merely as a particularly ruthless businessman or entrepreneur (Comeau, 2000). GardapheĂs argument is supported strongly by the literature of researchers who have studied the portrayal of the Italian mafia in the 1950s.
In her essay titled ˘Romanticizing the mafia,÷ Megan Sharp argues that the American post-World War II television audience was first introduced to the idea of an Italian mafia during the 1950 Kefauver Committee hearings. That year, Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee chaired the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (Sharp). This committee was officially charged with determining the extent to which ˘corrupting influences÷ were using the facilities of interstate commerce to conduct illegal activities.