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American History X

American History X is a film that shows the modern struggle between blacks and whites in America. The film’s focal character is Derek Vineyard. After his father is murdered in a black neighborhood, he becomes the leader of a group of young white supremacists, the DOC. After viciously murdering two black men for trying to steal his truck, he spends three years in prison. After serving his time he is a reformed man. He no longer has his racist views and wants desperately to put his old life behind him. Danny, who dollies his older brother Derek, is going down the same path his brother went when Derek gets out of prison.

Derek confronts his old friends and ultimately succeeds in getting his brother to get out of the same group that hampered his life. However, Danny has already made enemies and is killed by an inspiring member of a gang. This movie show examples of some ideas touched upon in class. The first of these ideas is the concept of ideological racism or the belief that society looks at the physical characteristics of a person and links them to either a place of superiority or inferiority based on these characteristics. In American History X, the white supremacists viewed the African Americans as being inferior based on the color of their skin.

The term “Niger”, used extensively by the supremacists in this movie, is traditionally a word used to make black people feel inferior. A more concrete example is when Derek rants about black people at the dinner table. He says that black people have no idea “of community or civic responsibility”. He also goes on to say that “1 in 3 black males are in some phase of the correctional system”. These points show how Derek believes that black people are inferior in terms of how they behave. This movie also has good examples of the concept discussed in class known as “the other”, which means that you hate anybody other than you or people like you.

A good example of this concept is when Derek and his gang are in front of the grocery store and are about to vandalize the place. Derek makes a speech on how the grocery store used to be owned by a white man who used to hire white workers, some of who were in the mob. The store went under and a Korean man took over and hired Mexicans because they work for less money. Because other people besides white people own and operate the store it is now a target for their cruelty. Derek hates these people and ransacks the store because the person who owns it is not one of them. Yet another example of a concept that was taught in class was the idea of

Anglo-conformity or the belief that everyone should strive to be protestant and Anglo-Saxon. When asked by Seth about who he hates, Danny replies that he hates anyone that “isn’t white protestant. ” He calls these people a “burden to the advancement of the white race. ‘ He hates people that don’t conform to his idea of what a perfect person is, white and protestant. There were a few stereotypes of blacks that were discussed in class and a few that were not. There were two references in the movie that were talked about in class. The first concept has to do with sexuality.

In one of the deleted scenes Seth and Cameron were talking about the reasons that white girls love black men. Seth goes on to say that it must have something to do with the size of their penises. The white supremacists also refer to the black people in the movie as monkeys, a term that can be related to the concept of animally. There were also stereotypes that were not discussed in class about the black race. There are mostly black people in jail, saying that majority of the people who commit crimes are black. They also say in the movie that only black people smoke weed, another stereotype, and that black people are on elf.

These stereotypes were not discussed in class but were very evident in the movie. The black race as a whole was viewed in mostly a negative light with some shining glimpses of positive action. There were many portrayals in the film that showed the black culture as being negative. There were many portrayals of black people in gangs. One of the most emotional moments in the film is when an inspiring gang member kills Danny but only after he has realized that his white supremacist ways were wrong. Gang members also killed Trek’s father and tried to steal Trek’s car. All of these instances showed

African Americans In a negative light Another negative manifestation of black people as a whole was when Derek was in prison. In every prison scene, majority of the people there were black These scenes show the idea that black people are more likely to commit violent crimes than other races. This concept puts a very negative image on black people and their culture. There were, however, two very positive images of black people in this movie. These come in the form of Dry. Sweeney and the guy in charge of the underwear. Dry. Sweeney hated white people when he was younger but learned that this belief was not the answer.

After he got out of the gangs, he received two PhD and was probably the strongest influence in Derek getting out of prison and changing his life. This all manifested in one scene where Derek cried to Dry. Sweeney and told him he wanted to change. He had an epiphany during that scene and after that the hatred was gone. The man who did the laundry also had a big influence on Derek getting out of prison unscathed after he parted way with his white supremacist friends. Even though Derek was spiteful towards this guy at first and said nothing to him the guy looked past Trek’s exterior, saw the man he was on the inside, ND helped him out. O not believe that the director had a biased opinion in the making of this film. He portrayed blacks in mainly a negative light but I do not believe he was trying to be biased. Instead, believe he created this movie with a purpose of showing an accurate picture of the struggles between White and Black America that exist in this country today. His addition of Dry. Sweeney as one of the strongest characters in the movie helped me to believe that there was no prejudice on his part. As far as the actors are concerned, there is a definite feel of bias at the beginning of the movie.

Because Trek’s father was shot by gang members he develops a hatred for the whole black race and all minorities for that matter. Because Of the actions Of a few, Derek Construes the whole race to be a waste of humanity. This prejudice that he harbors is unfortunately passed on to his little brother, who is going down the same path. Luckily for Derek, he realizes the error in his way and gets out while he still can. Danny realizes the error of his way too but is killed before he can do anything about it. On the whole, I do not believe that any group was well represented in this film.

This film shows the negative conflict between White America and Black America. There are not many instances to show the good qualities that each group represents. Instead, they show the good qualities of some representations of the two groups, like Derek and Dry. Sweeney. Even though the movie did not do the best job of showing a positive image for African Americans as a group, it did a really good job of showing the purpose of the movie, to show the racial tensions that are here today and the strength of character that is needed to overcome them. Besides the overall positive outlook on life, it was a great movie.

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Home » America » American History X

American History X

American History X (1998) illustrates how segregation is aggravated by missing father figures as well as the herd mentality of the characters in the film. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsches concept of the herd mentality states that people need a concept or a worldview to adopt in order to give meaning to their lives. This herding of people who choose to adopt this certain ideal or ideals in effect causes the stifling of individual thoughts or creativity because everyone chooses to think a certain way (Floyd).

This mindset that people are attracted to is not always chosen or forced but is rather seen as an obligation because of loyalties certain people have to others. Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton, starts to adopt this racist mindset that all races other than white are the downfall of society in a flashback scene where he is speaking with his father about school and his father tells him not to listen to the nigger bullshit of his black Social Studies teacher, Dr. Bob Sweeney played by Avery Brooks.

Dereks obvious interest in Dr. Sweeneys lessons fades almost immediately upon hearing these words from his father and Derek begins to agree with his fathers statements. Derek is not forced by his father to feel this way; however, he took it upon himself to feel this way because he looks up to his father. His individual thoughts are stifled because he wants to be more like his father. The racism instilled in Derek from his father is not enough to bring him to the violent lifestyle he starts on to lead, but it does teach him to stay away from black kids from an early age.

This herd mentality to stay only with white people has been brought to another level when Derek Vinyards father dies. His father is shot and killed by blacks while fighting a fire in a black neighborhood. Derek immediately places the blame on black people, not just a single black person but all black people. After his fathers death, Derek joins forces with Cameron Alexander, played by Stacy Keach. Cameron is an older man who is a Neo-Nazi and he uses Derek to recruit young adults into a new gang called the Disciples of Christ (D. O. C. ).

The creation of the D. O. C. ovides all the white youth of Venice Beach, California to feel a sense of belonging. Just like the young black males were a part of, and protected by, the Crips, the young white kids were protected by the D. O. C. However, the young males do not realize that the D. O. C. is an outlet for mastermind Cameron Alexanders white propaganda. He wants to spread hate and violence against the minorities without being directly involved in it. So he lets the kids do the dirty work. Cameron Alexander is exploiting peoples need to belong to a group and then using that group to further his own hateful vendettas.

The D. O. C. just perpetuated the segregation of races by giving white people a herd that they could join. The D. O. C. responds to violence with violence and to hate with hate. It worsened racial tensions in the community. In one scene of the movie, Derek challenges the black people on the basketball court to a game for the courts. Whichever race lost is not allowed back on the courts anymore. Derek and the white people win the game and told the niggers to get the f*ck off their courts. The herd mentality of the members of each race just makes the segregation situation worse.

This herd mentality follows Derek to prison when he has been sentenced for killing two black men trying to break into his jeep. As soon as Derek Vinyard enteres prison he starts to associate with the Neo-Nazis because that is the herd he is attracted to. He is protected by the Neo-Nazi gang of white supremacists in prison as well. However, the lines between these herds became blurred when Derek saw the Neo-Nazis doing business with blacks and Mexicans. Derek does not approve of that and got angry at the Neo-Nazis for associating with minorities.

This disagreement leads to the sodomy of Derek in prison by the Neo-Nazis, the people who he shares his views with and were suppose to protect him. That is one of the single most important actions in the movie that helps Derek break out of the herd mentality that he was in. He realizes the hypocrisy in the people who were part of that group or herd. He realizes that the group is just a falsehood for feeling safe; it had no deep meaning. By becoming a Neo-Nazi, Derek is looking for something to do with his life. Derek wants his life to have some meaning.

However, the Neo-Nazi cause had no meaning. It is all a front, either for Camerons personal endeavors or for safety in prison. When Derek Vinyard realizes this, he starts to break down and cry. The three years of his life wastes in jail were for nothing. Derek finally realizes the holes in this bullshit as Dr. Sweeney states. Dr. Sweeney means the holes in the actions of the other Neo-Nazis. They do not really believe what they pretend to believe. They just have that label because they needed it for protection and mental security.

His dignity is stripped for no reason other than the fact that he is actually nave enough to believe that the Neo-Nazi movement is something that can actually make his life meaningful. Cameron tries to use Derek and make his feelings based on us against them, white versus black, and an overall negative approach of good versus evil. Another thing that helps the segregation of races is Derek and Danny Vinyards, played by Edward Furlong, missing father figure and their desire for someone to fill that void. Even though Dereks father instills in him racist ideas, these ideas do not encourage violence towards minorities.

Those ideas just encourage ignorance. However, when Dereks father dies, the person to fill that void is Cameron Alexander. Derek is vulnerable without a father figure in his life and Cameron Alexander took him in as a son and as a protg. He gives Derek the attention he needs from an older male figure in his life. In an incident at the Vinyard household after Dereks fathers death, Derek got angry with his moms Jewish boyfriend. He shouts racial obscenities against Jewish people at him and even threatens his life. His moms reaction to Dereks outburst is, Hes just a boy without a father.

Cameron Alexander became Dereks father figure but he uses him to create the D. O. C. Since Derek looks up to Cameron it does not take much to influence Dereks actions. Derek recruits other white young adults for Cameron to create an army for Cameron to spread his propaganda. The D. O. C. has nothing to do with protecting the rights of the white people. It is Camerons exploitation of Derek and using it to spread hate against minorities through the misguided white youth who are seeking to feel like they belong somewhere. Cameron takes in Derek in order to herd up the white population in one group and put them against the blacks.

After serving a short prison term, Derek Vinyard does realize that Cameron and the Neo-Nazi people do not really believe in what they did is wrong. Derek learns a valuable lesson in prison about the holes of the life he is living. Derek also finds a new father figure when Cameron has abandoned him. This father figure is open-minded and wants the best for Derek. That figure is Dr. Bob Sweeney. He comes to visit Derek in prison after Derek is raped by his own people. After all that Derek has been through, Dr. Sweeney still has faith in Derek.

It is ironic that Dr. Sweeney is the man Dereks father was making racist remarks about when Derek was young but as Derek gets older, Dr. Sweeney is one of the few people that Derek can still trust. Dr. Sweeney is the man who helped bring Derek away from the life he was leading under Cameron. Dr. Sweeney, a black man, came to Dereks rescue when his Neo-Nazi brethren has abandoned him. Derek is not the only one who is affected by having no father figure in his life. Dereks younger brother Danny ends up following in Dereks footsteps while Derek is in jail.

Cameron Alexander took Danny in as well and starts feeding him his racist propaganda. However, it is Dr. Bob Sweeney who came to the rescue again to show Danny racism and hatred are wrong. Dr. Sweeney makes Danny write an essay about his brothers incarceration to make up for the essay Danny wrote on Hitler. Danny writes the essay the same day his brother is released from jail and the audience finds out that Danny has changed his way of thinking from seeing his brother become good and from Dr. Sweeneys influence. In his essay, Danny finally realizes that Hate is baggage.

Lifes too short to be pissed off all the time. However, it is too late for Danny because at the end of the movie Danny is brutally murdered by a black kid who he had trouble with in the beginning of the movie. After Danny gets over Camerons propaganda and realizes he should not hate minorities and should not reject them from his life, his life is taken from him the very next day. It is very ironic in this movie that the people who help Derek get over his Neo-Nazi philosophies in prison are both black. Guy Torrys character, Lamont, helps Derek overcome his anger towards black people on a personal level.

Lamonts humor and silly antics help Derek see the human side of the people he was accusing of ruining American society. Not only does Lamont help Derek to view black people as humans but he also helps Derek physically. After Derek rejects the neo-Nazis in prison he has no more protection. He was open game for the black people to beat, rape, and do whatever else they please. However, Derek is not touched at all for the remainder of his prison stay. Derek finally realizes the day he leaves the prison that it is because of Lamont that the black people do not abuse him in prison.

Derek ends up being protected by the people he hates. Also, Dr. Bob Sweeney helps Derek realize how the philosophy of the neo-Nazis is wrong and hypocritical. Dr. Sweeney visits Derek regularly in prison and puts in a good word for him with the local law enforcement. Dr. Sweeney also provides Derek with reading material in prison, which is what helps Derek pass most of his time. Derek is saved by black people, by the people he initially swore to hate. The segregation in Venice Beach between the whites and the blacks is an easy thing to observe in this movie.

However, this segregation is the cause of many different things. The formation of the Disciples of Christ is one of the main things that causes segregation between the blacks and the whites. The D. O. C. is used by the whites to attack minorities in large numbers so the whites could be able to get away with it. The formation of the D. O. C and its strength is solidified by peoples need to belong to a herd. Its initial creation is the cause of Cameron Alexander causing Derek to form a gang for the white people. Derek looks up to Cameron as a father and as a result listens to what he says.

The herd mentality and Dereks lack of a father figure leads directly to the formation of the D. O. C. which promotes even more violence and racism in the town of Venice Beach, California. The movie does an amazing job of getting its point across, which is the brutality of hate and racism. The emotions running high in the movie makes it powerful and moving and the death of Dereks younger brother Danny Vinyard is shocking enough to bring tears to many viewers eyes. The movie ends with Dannys voice reading his paper out loud and he ends his paper with a very important quote by Abraham Lincoln.

This quote shows how Dannys, as well as Dereks, mindset changed from the beginning of the movie to the end. When hearing this quote it leaves the viewers in awe that Danny finally started to look past his hateful ideologies but ends up dead because of the lifestyle him and his brother decided to lead. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained we must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.

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