American History X Essay
American History X is a film that centered on two brothers and how their lives changed when their father died. The story revolved around discrimination and racism. But most importantly, the movie emphasized the capability of an individual to change. The main character, Derek Vinyard, transformed into a racist when his father died “in the line of duty by a minority” and when he killed two black men who tried to rob him. Before he entered prison, Derek had already a preconceived notion that Blacks were menace to the society and that the Whites were the superior race.
However, inside the penal complex, he found out that “there is good and bad in every race. ” So to prevent his younger brother, Danny, from committing the same mistakes, Derek encouraged him to be open-minded and disregard all the things that were inculcated to him when they were members of the Neo-Nazi group (IMDb). This movie was able to show three sociological concepts namely: differential association, racism and social inequality. Differential association is a learning theory which focused on the processes by which individuals come to commit criminal acts (Hamlin).
In the film, this was shown when Derek joined the neo-Nazi group; he started to adapt a more delinquent lifestyle like thrashing the local grocery store. Meanwhile, racism is defined as the idea that race sets the difference in the personality or competency of an individual which results to some race being better than the others (Eckert). This concept was portrayed when Seth and Danny were having a conversation. Seth asked Danny who he hated and Danny replied, “I hate anyone that isn’t white Protestant. They’re a burden to the advancement of the white race” (Kaye).
Lastly would be social inequality which refers to the “ways in which socially-defined categories of persons (according to characteristics such as gender, age, ‘class’ and ethnicity) are differentially positioned with regard to access to a variety of social ‘goods’ like education” (Centre for East European Language-Based Area Studies). In the movie, this was represented when two Black guys were trying to steal Derek’s truck. This shows how some races are well off than the others because they have better jobs, houses and benefits.
I think American History X is an eye-opening film about the presence of discrimination, prejudice and hatred in the society due to difference in race. More so, the movie tried to relay the message that delinquency is learned and it can be unlearned if an individual is put in a better environment. When Derek went to prison, he realized that race was not a major issue that separated one individual from another; it was more on how a person presented himself/herself to a group. In the end, it would always be every man for himself in this dog eat dog world.
“American History X. ” 2009. IMDb. 28 May 2009
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