I’ve just watched Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible The Act of Killing (the director’s cut).
In the course of the film various people state that “gangster” comes from the English “free man” – which means gangsters are a good thing. In one scene Jusuf Kalla, vice president of Indonesia, goes as far to claim that Indonesia needs gangsters, because they get things done:
MG: One of the things I wanted to talk to you about is in the film they repeatedly say that “gangster” comes from the word “freeman,” and in English it doesn’t.
MG: So I was curious about the etymology of the English word versus the Indonesian etymology of the word “gangster.”
JO: I’m not exactly sure what the English etymology is.
MG: It really…
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