Crime Theories Within American Gangster Essay

The behavior theory claims that humans learn their behavior through experiences. They learn how to and commit crimes because they receive favorable incentives for committing the crimes. This theory ties into the social learning theory which claims that people learn their aggressive or criminal behaviors from watching others around them engage in these acts. Another interesting theory is the rational choice theory. The rational choice theory is used to describe why people commit crimes. Under the rational choice theory people weigh the cost and benefit of committing the crime.

When the benefit outweighs the cost of the crime the individual or individuals are more likely to commit the crime. In American gangster the main character Frank Lucas embodies these theories. Frank Lucas became the top drug dealer in his time because he had a mentor. Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson was the most successful drug dealer running Harlem and taught everything he knew to Frank Lucas. When Bumpy dies from a heart attack Frank Lucas takes what he learned from Bumpy and builds his own drug empire. Frank Lucas was not born a criminal. He did not know how to kill or distribute illegal drugs when he came into this world.

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His actions were learned from someone that he worked for and took him under his wing. Of course other factors might have also affected Frank’s actions such as his benefits from engaging in the crimes. For example the idea of transporting drugs straight from Vietnam and cutting out the middle man gave Frank the benefit of being able to have a larger profit. Becoming a drug trafficker instead of buying his drugs from other dealers was a more appealing action for Frank because this way he made more money for himself. Also the way he had his drugs transported made it less of a hassle for him to get caught giving him more opportunity and benefits.

Frank Lucas was a man not to be messed with and the movie portrays this with a few scenes where he violently kills those who defy him. When a person disrespects frank or is cause for disrupting Frank’s tranquility frank makes the choice to kill off his problem. Here he obviously weighs the costs and benefits of his actions. For example when a local gangster and drug dealer tries to scare frank into paying him a percentage of franks drug sales frank shoots him in the head in front of everyone. Killing off the gangster got rid of someone trying to coerce him into doing something he does not wants to do.

Another example of frank using rational choice is in his house. Everyone is having a good time in a party and one guy decides to disrupt everything because he was high frank killed the guy without a second thought. In his mind killing a disruptive fool was worth him having his tranquility in his home. Frank Lucas was an individual that represented various aspects of the crime theories such as the behavior theory, the social learning theory, and the rational choice theory. His actions and crimes all showed characteristics of these theories.

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