OK, it’s time to own up to my guilty pleasure, a very embarrassing one for a caring, gentle, nurturing mother. I love watching films and television series about organised crimes, things like The Godfather, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, all of which I have watched many times over. Part of my interest in The Godfather stems from the historical aspect. I love the scenes portraying the family’s arrival at Ellis Island and their early years in the US, but I am also fascinated by the way in which the characters switch so quickly from warm family men to sadistic killers. This is particularly in evidence in The Sopranos where the main character does everything he can to shield his children from his ‘job’ and to steer them towards academic achievement and lawful futures. I am amazed at the almost Jekyll and Hyde personalities of these people, one minute acting as the devoted husband and loving,dutiful son but the next beating a waiter to death for serving the wrong food.
I abhor violence, I really am a gentle person who is patient and loving and kind. I have five sons who have been brought up not to resort to their fists in settling arguments and I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the number of times they fought each other (they did have horrendous verbal arguments but that’s another story). I don’t like blood, rescue spiders from the bath and feel complete and utter remorse if I find a dead mouse in the house (we live in an old house in the country so there’s always at least one mouse around at harvest time) but when it comes to entertainment I will quite happily watch any amounts of blood and gore. When my children were little I could only indulge my guilty pleasure once they were all safely tucked up in bed and fast asleep. I would watch with the volume turned down low not wanting even the faintest sounds of violence to penetrate the innocent ears of my children. My boys gravitated towards gentle toys like cleaning sets, play kitchens, play shops, arts and crafts, and spent hours immersed in an imaginative world where violence played no part. As they grew older they started to show an interest in the history of the World Wars and learned about the weaponry and battles but still were gentle and non combative. We had many discussions about the futility of war and how violence did not solve problems. Little did any of them know my guilty pleasure.
But boys grow up and become fully aware of the cruelty that exists in the world. At some point my eldest son wanted to watch The Godfather films, partly as background to learning about 1920s America but also because he’d heard what amazing films they were. I was happy to oblige and dutifully sat to ‘supervise’ his viewing. I think at some point during the films it must have become obvious that I had watched them many times before. The proverbial cat was well and truly out of the bag.The bonus was that the two of us could dust off the boxed set of The Sopranos (hidden away during those years when the boys went to bed too late to allow me to watch alone) and we could start watching together from the beginning. Interestingly he too was fascinated by the psychology of the gangsters rather than watching purely from the point of view of the violence. He too is the gentlest of people, proof that watching violence doesn’t make us condone it or become violent ourselves. One thing these films has taught us though is that you can’t always tell what a person is like from the outside; many seemingly innocuous people are in reality monsters just as some people who appear gruff on the outside are really pussy cats.
My eldest son is now away at university and my youngest still far too young to watch such things so my guilty pleasure is once more on the back burner, although I have been watching Game of Thrones, which has no shortage of bloody scenes, with two of the teenagers,;so for the most part now I indulge my totally innocent pleasure of romcoms (interspersed with Grey’s Anatomy). But I am sure in time I will return to the gangster movies; perhaps I will become like my Grandmother who loved all the Charles Bronson films where he played a vigilante on a killing spree. Actually, I seem to remember having to stay up to watch with her to make sure she got to bed safely afterwards. Perhaps that was the beginning of my guilty pleasure…….