American History

Critical Inquiry: American History X



Racism is a prevalent social evil known for accomplishing nothing but creating additional hate between different cultures. This is the theme presented in a 1998 film entitled American History X. It presents an anti-racist white hero, a subject that is shared in various civil rights films. The film centers on different social matters such as hate, racism, and violence. It uses symbols of prejudice that propagate the issue of racism in the movie. The film presents a new meaning of racism by narrating a story relating the current state of modern day racial hatred in the United States. The streets of America are filled with discriminatory victimizing gangs that instigate violence and cruelty. The characters are entangled in cycles of violence, poverty, and deprivation. The neo-Nazism movement gives them a reason to spread out hatred to people of different cultures. The playwright and the director of the film are successful in accomplishing their purposes through character development, cinematography, and the targeted audience. The film is helpful to the viewers in that it creates a vivid picture of how racism is devastating to individuals, families, and the society. For the purpose of this presentation, the paper will review the origin of the movies title and look at the aspects of socialization and resocialization as reflected in the firm. A brief synopsis will start so as to enhance the understanding of the concepts.

The plot of American History X revolves around two Venice brothers named Derek Vinyard and Danny Vinyard. Derek is liberated after spending three years in prison for deliberately murdering two thugs who had attempted to steal his truck. Also, before going to prison, Derek was a leader of a notorious racist gang that was known for committing racial crimes in Los Angeles (Morrissey & Kaye, 1998). His actions were influential such that his brother Danny was likely to follow the same wrong path. After his release from prison, Derek seemed transformed from his past beliefs. He cuts all links with the gang members and tries to preclude his brother from following his violent path.

American History X as the films title has significance. It refers to a high school class in American History. Danny Vinyard is a learner at the high school. He presents a theme paper entitled Mien Kampf, and which gives a racist rhetoric. When the teacher sees this, he sends Danny to the school principals office. When the principal reads through the paper, he is so irritated that he tears the paper and throws it into the waste bin. From there henceforth, the principal makes himself Dannys history teacher in a class he names American History X (Morrissey & Kaye, 1998). In this class, Danny is handed with the first assignment of rewriting his paper. The instructions required Danny to describe the actions of his brother, Denny, who had just been released from prison and how they had shaped his outlook on the American society. Danny entitles the rewritten paper as American History X. This is where the film finds its name.

American History X has significantly reflected the issues of the socialization process with a focus on Derek Vinyard. It is apparent from the movie that the passing of his father was a key to his beginning racist views. Since a tender age, his father had made him believe that the affirmative black action was meaningless. The African Americans had taken the move as a way of trying to fit into the white society (Morrissey & Kaye, 1998). Individually, Derek had experienced racial discrimination, and this had contributed to his biased views on other cultures. He shows absolute hatred for other cultures. This was evident when he heartlessly slain two black American boys who had attempted to steal his truck. His actions were affirmative of his lack of affection towards the human life of people from different cultures (Morrissey & Kaye, 1998). Also, the socialization process is evident when Derek becomes Cameron Alexanders protege. Through his inspiration, Dereks hatred for other cultures intensified. It was Cameron who influenced Derek to join the racist group. Soon afterward, he crowned him as the leader responsible for recruiting more people.

American History X presents a vivid tale of resocialization. This is seen when the film shows negative social issues such as affirmative action, discrimination, hate crimes, and immigration, which instill racism and hatred among dissimilar cultures. The film also shows a shocking portrait of the cruelty that human beings can possess against each. The films main subject is racism. It shows qualities of both pro and anti-racism as portrayed by Dereks character. As the head of the skinhead gang, Derek shows inhumanity, which is strong enough to wipe out his redemption (Morrissey & Kaye, 1998). The activities of the characters and the scenes of the film are seen to escalate racism. For instance, the film presents various black stereotypes. Firstly, in prison, many of the imprisoned men are black. Secondly, when thugs attempt to break into Dereks truck, the victims are black men. Finally, when a fight arises at the drop of a hat on the area near the basketball pitch, black men are involved. Eventually, Derek and Danny are tangled up with the feelings of white power and racism, a form of resocialization that prevails in the film.

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In conclusion, the film, American History X, presents various social issues such as hate, racism, and violence, all which are rooted in the society. In the movie, Danny is portrayed as white hero in American History X. Racism is evident throughout the movie. This has helped to present the aspects of socialism and resocialization.

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