Graceland and City of God

The history of developing economies shows that corruption, high criminal rates, informal economy and corruption are among the major problems of such countries. Two proposed stories about the criminal life in Nigeria and Brazil prove that high rates of crimes including drug transfer, gang groups and murders are typical of the regions with the lack of law enforcement and insufficient resources for controlling the order of the country. As such, the book called Graceland tells a story about a young mature man named Elvis Oke from Nigeria between the 1970s-80s of the past century. A young Nigerian with the aspiration for dancing and affection for American rock culture encounters difficult social, cultural and psychological constraints because of family issues in times of unfavourable social and economic climate in the country. Similarly, the movie City of God discusses the story of Brazilians, who have to face the dictatorship of dangerous, armed drug gangs. The situation in the capital of the country reminds a war with daily accidents, shootings and deaths of teenagers, who have participated in the criminal groups. Both works reflect on the economic and social challenges of the past century like violence, moral collapse and state of disgrace. In addition, both stories demonstrate communities’ response to the despair, depression and moral dissonance due to the absence of legal and economic power. Instead, money and power manipulate humble people, who live in fear for their lives and future.

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Description of Crime and Corruption in Both Works

Abani (10) reveals a story of young Elvis, who has experienced the death of his mother because of cancer. His father left them and the teenager had to live in Lago ghetto, a place where a character had to oppose the national capital and constraints of the economy. In general, a separate story of the teenager sheds light on the foreign world, namely, a developing economy affected by the wonders and excesses of the American culture. Throughout a book, one could note the entries and recipes from his mother’s journal along with the depictions of kola nut celebrations, during which an Igbo body transforms into a man.

The film City of God is a powerful representation of the poverty, violence and economic crisis in Latin America. The movie also focuses on crime-wrought peripheries retelling the experience of teenagers in the 1960s-70s of the past century and introducing a convincing play of the shifts in the political power and social order. Cocaine gang dealers in Rio de Janeiro started to emerge during this period generating violence and crimes in the areas (Fernandes n. p.). The situations became even worse when the ghetto regions of Rio became dangerous for children and teenagers, a city of 14 million people was under the control of drug bosses. The film, therefore, calls for the society to consider the history and avoid same consequences in the future.


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Differences and Similarities in Respective Treatments

Both works shed light on inequality, poverty and economic challenges resulting from illegal activities such as drug transportation, armed control and the existence of drug dealers. However, the difference between the works lies in the ways authors represented the environment, causes and consequences of poor economic situation. As such, the book about a poor Nigerian boy tells about the problem of overwhelming influence of Westernized culture, which prevents the protagonist from retaining his cultural and social heritage pursuing and cultivating unique personal achievements. Specifically, Elvis has an affection for dancing and rock culture, which have been accepted in America in the 1960s. He is also concerned with the so-called ‘American dream’, which allows him to hope for the better future. Overall, the book is a marvellous representation of how economics and policy in Nigeria have prevented the teenager from living a normal life.

In contrast, the movie is a more general representation of the economic and political conditions in Rio de Janeiro. The director has managed to show an opposite picture of life in Brazil, which is not all about dancing, nightlife and fun, but also about the dark side of the capital, where hundreds of killings happen regularly and people have to survive under the dangers of such daily life.

Despite the differences, both works still focus on the contrasts in terms of culture and social life present in both countries. Both stories involve the criticism of law mechanisms and corrupted power in the third world economies, where the government is helpless against the corrupted ghetto and the priority is given to local groups of drug dealers and leaders manipulating the region and controlling social and political activities due to their superior possibilities and violence. Authoritative power of cartels and mafia shows the way in which these power mechanisms fail to surpass the crime rates and increase the transparency and safety of the society. It is evident that both stories are strongly associated with the history of colonial prevalence or postcolonial modernity. Specifically, Falola (54) asserts, “without a strong central authority to check excessive ethnic nationalism and regional autonomy, the intense regionalism of the 1950s continued during the First Republic”. Therefore, regionalism in several regions of Nigeria was the major obstacle to cultivating and promoting Nigerian heritage.

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Larger Conclusions Regarding Consequences and Causes of Illicit Activity and the Role it Plays in the Lives of People in the Informal City

The role of historical and economic circumstances is significant particularly when it concerns informal sectors. Such issues are discussed in many other political and cultural papers where the emphasis is placed on the environment, financial activities and governmental control of the informal settlements. As Hasan (147) confirms, most of the informal regions have achieved independence within a short term, which requires much more time for the formation of a firm and independent government that can elucidate illegal structure and develop the relationship between the major actors and dramatic events. Therefore, it is highly important for the government to take resolute measures to reduce the influence of shadow economy and criminal structures, which have had a negative influence on the social and cultural lives in the discussed regions. In order to focus on the major pitfalls of the governmental structure, it is essential for the latter to recognize the mistakes and the existence of corrupted networks in the region. The book, in particular, shows that the existence and evidence of corrupted organizations and drug cartels has not been denied.

Solutions to the Problems Related to the Illicit Activity

There are many solutions and recommendations, which apply to given stories including recognition, law enforcement, privatization and other important steps that might contribute to the welfare of the population. According to Hasan (151), “with the privatization of education, merit means those who can afford education and this marginalizes poor community still further”. Hence, education becomes a crucial source of knowledge acquisition and skill management regardless of scarce resources for survival. Analysed works prove that government has failed to provide sufficient financial support to the most struggling regions in their countries fostering the development of shadow economies and speculation, which have caused certain problems in terms of tax payment and legitimacy of various financial operations. The class settlements, as a result, have become even more contrasting leading to stratification and the development of poverty.

In Brazil of the 1969, the corporate culture has promoted the feel of profusion and material abundance in the city, which has not been sufficiently represented. Presence of nightlife, carnivals and other attributes of rich life has developed new images about Latin American culture. However, this image has concealed the genuine matter of facts like corrupted power, lack of control and increased crime rates limiting the access to normal education and social benefits. In this respect, liberalization of the environment was another viable solution, which could be introduced in the analysed cases. Existence of huge advertisements dominate the urban landscape making the rest of the life invisible to the government. However, the movie City of God shows Rio de Janeiro as the city of cocaine presence and faces the viewers with the outcomes of cocaine business in the country. The director focused on other undercurrent problems such as guns and violence, which pledged Brazilian society to focus on survival rather than harmonious life in a highly developed and cultural community. As soon as these aspects have been discussed, it is purposeful to state that both the community and the government should have taken responsibility for the criminality and lack of transparency in the social life order.

The return to the traditional cultural values in the regions is possible through the analysis of previous mistakes. For instance, one cannot deny that the highly developed drug culture of the past along with the high criminal rates and violence have imprinted a long-lasting effect on the current state of affairs. Nonetheless, it is still possible to regain genuine cultural and national values, which have the right to remain in the modern life. Lack of economic and social stability could be solved through equality, higher social standards and reference to the international paths of prosperity, promotion and success. It should also be stressed that colonial domination and inconsistency in educational policy were among the major reasons of the economic and social collapse.

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In conclusion, both the City of God and the Graceland narrate the experience of poor population, particularly young teenagers, who have had to confront violence, dangers and other negative events in their lives because of the social, economic and political inequalities existing in their regions. There are different views on the state of affairs, but both works focus on the criminal injustice and corrupted structures manipulating the society and preventing people from obtaining normal social benefits and social protection. People are deprived of educational and professional opportunities hence have to survive in a world of cruelty and violence where guns, power and money control the situation. Both stories show the consequences of colonial domination that have made political and legal structures of the countries, which have enjoyed a short term of independence, unstable and inconsistent. As the experience and scientific investigation show, the society is in extreme need of education and centralization of power, because knowledge and cultural awareness stand at the core of any community. Such a vision will improve social and cultural lives.

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