Ah, summer. Hot weather, hot guys, hot heads.
This week, the AMC cable channel has been running its first ever Mob Week featuring movies and documentaries about the mafia. Yes, I am aware the Olympics are on and I could be watching some amazing athletic feats, but even though I’ve seen these films a million times, they lure me in every time. And for good reason. No matter how many times you watch The Godfather, you glean something new whether it’s hearing a line of dialogue in a new way, picking up a fresh nuance in a character’s reaction, or gaining a greater understanding of a plot twist.
This time around, I’ve focused my attention of Santino “Sonny” Corleone, the violent, impetuous eldest son of Don Vito Corleone, aka, The Godfather. It seems every time I turned on my television this week, Sonny was on screen, stepping in for his injured father to run the family business, visiting his comare (pronounced goo-MARH, Sicilian for mistress) or beating up/killing somebody who had it coming.
After so much Sonny, I came away with one overwhelming impression: When did Sonny get so sexy?
Okay, so let me state plainly that violence isn’t sexy and I don’t condone racketeering, selling drugs or contract hits. And as a married woman with twenty-years of nuptial bliss under my belt, I’m certainly not down with adultery. But in this fictional underworld, it’s hard to resist Sonny’s charisma. It got me thinking about what makes his character so appealing, because a lot of his actions are pretty revolting.
Sonny’s the archetypal impetuous hothead, the immature young gun who, because of his pride and arrogance thinks he knows how to run the show but doesn’t have the brains or patience to be effective. We’ve seen these types before, say for example, Joe Pesci’s, Tommy DeVito in GoodFellas, who’d shoot a guy in the foot because he refused to dance on cue. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing, I repeat NOTHING sexy about Tommy DeVito, and it’s not because he’s short and indisputably unattractive. He’s a one-note psychopath without any humanity. Sure, he’s sort of nice to his mother, but that’s only because she’s willing to feed him and his friends in the middle of the night and supply him with cutlery with which he can cut up the “deer” he’s got locked in his trunk.
Sonny’s different. Sure he’s a gangster, but he lives by a code. Business is business, and those who get their hands dirty are fair game, but civilians are off-limits. On more than one occasion, Sonny displays sympathy for the vulnerable and refuses to injure anyone he views as helpless. As a child, he brings homeless Tom Hagen off the street to be adopted by the family; he fiercely defends his younger siblings; and staunchly defends his beloved father. In fact, this very trait precipitates his own murder. Rushing to save his sister from her physically abusive husband, Sonny is ambushed in a blaze of Tommy gun fire in a toll plaza.
Maybe it’s just my half-Sicilian heritage, but I love Sonny’s loyalty to his family and his strong, protective streak. I never had a brother, but if I did, I’d have wanted him to act just like Sonny, eager to pummel any guy who did me wrong. Not that I’d actually let him, but it would feel good to know I had someone willing to protect me if I needed it.
There are plenty of other appealing, multi-dimensional hot head heroes whose sense of loyalty and protection help us forgive their other, less-than-perfect characteristics. For example, Wolverine from the X-Men, often depicted as a loner, finds himself drawn into fighting the Brotherhood of the Mutants to protect his own kind. Thor, the crown prince of Asgard must overcome his hot head nature to save his people from his treacherous adoptive brother’s scheme. I don’t know about you, but even though it’s terribly unfeminist, I’d let either of these guys fight a battle for me.
So how about you, readers? Which Hot Heads get you hot and bothered? Mob Week is nearly over and I’ll be needing a new Hottie to fall for.