'Family' Values

The Godfather
Mario Puzo,
GP Putnam's Sons, 1969

Mario Puzo's clumsily written, sleazy, misogynist, trash interpretation of a clever and powerful Mafia story, which Francis Ford Coppola rescued and transformed into a masterpiece of film-making, strikes me (and you may wish to strike me, too) as presenting a concept of "Family Values" not unlike those espoused by the Grand Old Party and its leader. And other eerie similarities ooze to mind.

The Godfather (Don Vito Corleone) is a powerful "businessman" with political influence, married to a matronly woman who cooks, cleans, raises children and does not ask her husband about his business. President Bush is a powerful politician married to a...well, you get the idea. Were Don Corleone and George Bush separated at birth? Maybe not--but they do seem to share a lot of the same "values." Let's look at a few.

The Role of Women

Barbara Bush is widely regarded to be the paradigm of maternal domesticity--the idealized Republican brood cow. She whips up big batches of American cookies while George goes his pragmatic way, sending young men to war in Panama and the Middle East, counting on Bar to set the moral tone. Mrs. Corleone, her counterpart, is so defined by her role that she has no first name other than "Mama". Also big on cooking she rustles up Italian food while Don Corleone sends his men "to the mattresses". The Don asserts that "(women) are not competent in this world, though certainly they will be saints in heaven while we men burn in hell". I think Bush would not disagree. "We'll burn in hell, Harry", he might say.

Family Loyalty

"I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I have spoiled them," says Corleone, when his eldest, Sonny, shoots off his mouth (though not literally--that comes later). But the Don's indulgence goes further than mere spoilage, when spin doctors mobilize to prevent bad press from spoiling his son's successful assassination of a New York City police captain. Likewise, protective White House dad, George B. helped his son, Neil, out after the savings and loan "unpleasantness." And how can we neglect to explore the obvious Dan Quayle/Fredo Corleone correlation. Fredo, the eldest son, is an embarrassment to the family; Dan, also the "heir head apparent", is an embarrassment to the country. Neither has figured out why think tank recruiters aren't beating down their doors, and both these idiots are placed in jobs in which they can, hopefully, do little harm. It's the family way. And speaking of family way, what about:


The three Corleone sons, none of whom are named Chip, speedily impregnate their wives, as does the Don's duplicitous son-in-law. The only off-spring who fails to procreate is the witless wang, Fredo.

Corleone loves his grandchildren, as the soon-to-be-ex-President loves his own "little dark ones". Naturally, both men openly oppose the big "A". And, both men don't feel quite the same once the baby is here. The Don believes, along withthe Bible-Nazis of Operation Rescue that life is "a beautiful choice," although he hires a henchman di tutti henchmen who has just ordered his own newborn baby to be tossed into an incinerator. The Commander-in-Chief is anti-abortion, but can't be bothered by those pesky tykes living in poverty and abuse. Both Bush and Corleone disapprove of finocchio (homosexual) behavior, as expressed by the articulate Prexy, "I don't, I'm not, I don't favor that." If Dan Quayle, like Fredo Corleone, were to bang cocktail waitresses two at a time, there is little doubt that George Bush would agree with the sexually straight-laced Godfather that this was "bad...bad".


On the subject of drugs, Bush is adamant, as is Vito Corleone. As Corleone tells Virgil Sollozzo, a narcotics "entrepreneur", "It's true I have many many friends in politics, but they would not be so friendly if my business were narcotics instead of gambling." Of course the Don, unlike the Prez, was subsequently riddled with bullets for just saying, "No". But the point stands.

Yes, the Corleones are a lot more like those family values icons, the Waltons, than they are like the much derided, Simpsons (although the Bart Simpson/Luca Brasi comparison is compelling enough to warrant some further examination).

--Mary Rocco

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Last Modified: 09 June 1995 by Darrel Plant
All reviews, articles, and stories © 1992-1995 by the authors. "Godchild" graphic ©1990 by Darrel Plant. All graphics ©1992-1995 by Eric Rewitzer, unless otherwise noted.
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