Gangster's Paradise

I went to see the good-but-not-great American Gangster on Friday, and yesterday spent some time reading Marc Jacobson's 2000 New York profile of Frank Lucas (on which the film is based) and his more recent piece where he puts Lucas together with Nicky Barnes for a chit-chat. This all made me think of Oscar Wilde's remark upon witnessing the scene at Jesse James' house following his death: "The Americans certainly are great hero worshippers, and always take their heroes from the criminal element."

There seems to be something to that. But is it really different elsewhere? I'm not all that familiar with the popular culture of any other countries.