10 important life lessons from Martin Scorsese movies
It’s no secret that the films Martin Scorsese has crafted over his forty plus years in the director’s chair are all tiny miracles. They range from tiny (garlic) slices of life, to immense period pieces, where conventional thoughts of good versus evil are tossed right out the window and onto the desolate streets that have been pockmarked with urban decay.
It’s easy as pop culture thrill jockeys to sit back in our padded chairs and let his movies thrill, chill and frighten us. But if you really dig deep inside, there are life lessons to carry with you; call it an intellectual man’s strongbox. Here are just ten to take note of.
Photo credit: Peabody Awards, Flickr
10 Speak softly and carry a big stick. (Gangs of New York)
Bill the Butcher was, and will never be confused as a role model. But when it came down to the nitty gritty, he was willing to get his hands dirty for the sake of what he believed in. Whether it’s in business or in the bedroom, being boastful without the means of backing it up is never going to get you anywhere.
9 It’s better to be king for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime. (The King of Comedy)
Taking risks is what makes life interesting. Some blossom into buxom butterflies, while others explode on the launch pad. But living your life as an Even Steven is no way to go about existing. So every once in a while you’ve gotta just go with the flow. What’s the worst that could happen? You could end up in a bathtub full of ice with a note indicating that you’ve been harvested like a torrent site. Who cares? God gave you two kidneys for a reason.
8 Be a self-motivator. (Taxi Driver)
Face it. We’re a culture that thrives on the failures of others. College entrance exams these days feature essays asking, “what internet nut shot made you L.O.L the most and why?” It’s the nature of the beast. If you don’t think you can do something, then you’re never going to do it. Rest assured, no one is going to hand you a damn thing if you’re a worthless sack of shit…unless you’ve showed your genitals on the internet. To borrow from another anti-hero of sorts, Tyler Durden, “self improvement is masturbation.”
7 Never trust a cop. (The Departed)
It’s not a coincidence that the common euphemisms when describing a police officer are “pig” and “dick.” Why, because they’re dirty and they’re only out there to f*ck you. That may sound a tad harsh, but run this hypothetical through your think box. There you are, a law-abiding citizen cruising at a comfortable 35 M.P.H. when you catch a glimpse of a squad car following you in your rear-view. Suddenly, the scenarios start running through your head.
“He could pull me over and go all Bad Lieutenant on me. Or, “this dude could sprinkle a little crack on me.”
No one feels safer when the cops are around. It’s completely the contrary, even for law-abiding, and tax paying, stars and stripe wavers.
6 If you win, you win. If you lose, you still win. (Raging Bull)
While very similar to #9, it’s a very prominent theme throughout Marty Scorsese’s body of work. Life is chalked full of gray areas. Everything comes with a caveat. Maybe you landed a big job promotion, but it involves moving to Hoop and Holler, Texas and handling bull semen. Maybe you’ve met the girl of your dreams, but it turns out she used to make fetish videos that involved her feet and pie a la mode. Finding out the bad often leads to making good decisions.
5 Never underestimate the little guy in the room. (Casino)
Here’s a fun fact: Joe Pesci is 5 feet 4 inches… in shoes. Yet Scorsese used him as the certifiable muscle in two of the greatest mafia movies ever made. The moral of the story is that you should never write off a person based on tiny stature, both physically and personality-wise. There’s nothing hard to understand about the Napoleon Complex. It’s true.
4 Sometimes you’ve gotta cut your knucklehead friend loose. (Mean Streets)
I like to refer to old childhood friends as BB-Gun chums. They were the ones who had the lax parenting, so inevitably they were always up to no good. As the years passed, and puberty blew on through like a pustule-faced hurricane, that same friend had graduated to some more serious type of debauchery. Namely, stuff that would make Heisenberg blush. As hard as it is to tell them “adios,” it’s a whole lot easier to do that, then it is ending up with them on the booty cell block on Riker’s Island.
3 Be funny. But not too funny. (Goodfellas)
Being clever and charming can get you into (clubs), and down (panties) places you would have never dreamed possible. It’s the equivalent of having an intellectual and comedic twelve-incher. But everything can’t be a pissing contest. Every once in a while you’ve gotta find some time to shut the f*ck up. Ask yourself this; do you listen, or do you wait to talk?
2 A woman is usually a man’s downfall. (Casino)
It wasn’t Helen of Troy’s face that launched a thousand ships… it was her trouser harbor that did. Even the most calculated and cunning men can veer of course for a chance at cementing marching orders for their sea men.
1 The easy way isn’t necessarily the best way. (Goodfellas)
Doing what’s easy over what’s necessary is a character flaw everyone has. We emerge from out neo-natal snorkeling with two eyes, a nose, mouth, two arms, two legs and a hankering for the road always traveled. That’s why so many people end up painfully average. Don’t be afraid to veer down that metaphorical dark alley, just be forewarned that the lady with the red dress on is actually a dude.