Analyzesof the Representation and Production of America History X Movie
TheAmerican historyxis a moviethat givesan accountof thelifeof two white brotherlivingat Venice in Los Angeles andwhoshareNazi sentiments.Their life is fueled by attitudes of white power, and resentment theyharbor after the sudden demise of their father exemplify theinfluence that society has is shaping the conduct of its members.This essay seeks to analyze the American History X movie and explorethe racial issues as depicted in the movie.
Dannyand Derek are brought up in a middle class family that is made up ofthe two, a sister, a compassionate mother and a conceited father.Their father Denis is portrayed as being displeased with the currentshape of affairs in the society, particularly the issue concerning tothe affirmative action and race relations. Physically, Denisviewpoint is intolerant and this prejudice is passed along to his twoyoung sons. For instance, the influence of his sentiments on hischildren is evident I the scene where he is having breakfast andDanny points out that he has been given assignment by the principal,to read a book written by an American author of African origin. Thisnotion seems to upset Dennis and he state that this is ‘affirmativeblaction’ and it is compelling learning institution to discardgreat literary works and introduce mediocre black books.
Beforethis incident his son Derek is shown to harbor similar sentimentsabout other races, especially black Americans. During thisconversation his father churns out strong hatred words against theblack community and other minority groups in the United States.Dennis suggests that the affirmative action is infringing on therights of the whites and creating room for minority group to takeover (Ebert 1).Derek agrees with his father and after the sudden death at the handsof a black gunman, his hatred is multiplied.
Productionof the Movie
Theshootingof American History X wasdonein Los Angeles, California. Danny is a vibranthighschoolpupilwhoharborsracistnotionsandis partof a groupof youngmushrooming racialskinheadsat in Venice. Danny is assignedby his historyteacher,Murray whois of Jewish originto writean essayabout thestruggleof civilrights.Danny isprovidedtheopportunityto unleash his racialtendencies.Knowingalltoo wellthathis historyteacheris a Jew, Danny decidesto writeabout theideasof racialintolerancethattheGerman leaderAdolf Hitler hadincludedin his bookMein Kampf. Thisis themostconspicuousincidentof racialintolerancein themovie.Murray feelsveryoffendedby thesentimentsof theyoungstudentsandwantshim expungedfrom theschool.Theprincipalof theschoolMr. Brooks, whois back,is loathin expellingthebrilliantstudent.HeinformsDanny thathewillformpartof theAmerican History classthat would be under theprincipal.In thisclasstheprincipalwould teachthestudentsabout thepastandcurrenteventsin History andsurprisingly Danny’s firstassignmentis to writeabout his brotherDerek whoat thistimeis stilllockedup in prison(Tatara1). TheprincipalinformsDanny thatfailureto submitanassignmentwillinevitablyleadto expulsionfrom theschool.Danny is compelledto analyzeandinterpretalltheincidentsthat ledto his brother’simprisonment.Statehowthoseincidentshelpedshapeshis currentmindset andviewpointof lifein modernAmerican. Itis eminentthatMr. Bob as a youngmanhadhatedthewhites butin duecourseherealizedthathatredwasmeaningless.Perhapsthisis whatpreventshim from expellingtheyoungmanbecausehethinksthere is stilla chancethathecan transformandchangehis pointof view.
Akeyaspectin thismovieis thatthewhite whoare themajorityin theUnited Statecannot beblindlytrusted(Susan1). Theracialintoleranceof thetwo boy’sfather,thathesuccessfullypassesto thesonsDanny andDerek is evidencethatthrough manipulationfeelingof animositytowards otherracescan be arousedamong thecivilizedwhite community.Thetwo maincharacters,Danny andhis brotherDerek are brightandfullof potentialbuttheycowardlygetrecruitedinto a racialintolerant groupcalledtheskinheadmovement,sharingsimilarsentimentswith Hitler’s Nazi party.Theimport is thata white person,nomatterhowcivilizedcan getbogged down theracialprejudicehole.Derek cannot preventhimself from gettingconsumedby violence,racialfervorandhatred(Ebert1).
Derekconsiders himself a victim of the society, and apportions blame tothe minority groups whom he hold responsible for all the tribulationsthat the world and American was facing. His sentiments areethnocentric, constantly and indefatigably applying his movement’sway of conducting affairs as a benchmark for critiquing others andhow they should live. Nevertheless, while imprisoned for the murderof two African Americans, his views of the world and society,particularly the supremacy of the whites is completely changed(Tatara 1).Derek’s fresh start entails coming to reality with thedemise of his father Dennis, changing his views of the blackAmericans, and realizing the negativity connected with harboringracial prejudice. It also accords a chance to Derek to dissuade hisbrother from continuing along the racial intolerant path
Eventually,Derek’s racial tendencies changed, somewhat as a consequence of theinteraction with a black inmate in the prison and through therelationship with the principal of the high school Mr. Sweeny. Hisopinion changed neither when he realized that his racial prejudicehad not assisted him to attain any meaningful benefit nor had itallowed him to change the world around him. It dawned on Derek thathis hatred and racial prejudice was based on the wrong premise andthat his action had negatively influenced his younger brother.
IntheCalifornia Institutions forMen in Chino Derek getsa jobat thelaundrydepartmentwhereheis supposedto partnerwith a black prisonerby thenameLamont. Bothprisonersare ardentbasketballfansandtheysoondevelopa goodrelationship.Whilein theprisonDerek joinsthegroupreferredin themovieas theAryan Brotherhood butafter twelve monthshequits thegroupbecauseof its phonyrelationswith Mexican gangs.Derek receivesa severebeatingfrom thegroupforhis criticismandis gangraped.BobSweeny paysDerek a visitwhileheis recoveringfrom abrutalattackfrom theAryan Brotherhood. Derek seeksSweeny helpto be paroledandtheblack principalinforms him thathis youngerbrotherwill e bogged down thesamepathforhis involvementwith theskinheadmovement.Mr. Sweeny confessesto Derek thatheharboredsuchracistsentimentswhenhewasa youngmanbuthesubsequentlyrealizedhis animositywaspointless.
Dereklifetakesa completeturnandhedistanceshimself evenfurtherfrom theprisongangsandspends therestof his readingmaterialsthattheblack principalsendhim. Lamont preventstheprisongangfrom attackingDerekandthiscompletelychangestheviewof Derek against otherracesespeciallyblack Americans. Themostfrighteningscenesare theoneswherethememberof theskinheadmovementmeetandsharetheir racialintolerant sentiments.Derekwhois a brilliantindividualis thegluethat holdsthisgrouptogether.Throughhis articulatespeechmaking that is synonymouswith thatof theNazi leaderAdolf Hitler, beeranddrugsthat seemsto be thefuelthat keepsthisjuggernaut moving,thegroupsseemsbiggerthan its constituentsandassumethatallracesthoughlivingtogetherin Venice, California are at undeclared warwith eachother.Undeniably theraceintolerant of theskinheadmovementis reflectedby their tendenciessuchas thehaircutandwordsandis mirroredby otherethnic groups(Tatara 1).
InthescenethatDerek isreleasedfrom prisonhis transformationis evidentin thewayheemployshis youngerbrotherto disassociate himself with skinheadmovement.During thenightthat followedDerek andDanny gotheneo-Nazi gangpartyandDerek informtheleaderof theparty,Cameron thattheywill nolonger be partof themovement.TheleadergoadsDerekandhereceivesa beatingforthis.Inthe rejoinderCameronacquaintanceRyan Seth runsafter Derekandhemanagesto overpowerhim andescape.Danny doesnot pleasedwith Derek’s actionsbuthis brotherrecountstheprisonincidentto himandthisseemsto spark changein (Danny Tatara 1). Thetwo brothersremovealltheposterstheyhadattachedon their wallmirroring white supremacyandDanny isabletocompletetheprincipal’sassignment.UnfortunatelyDannyis murderedbyblack studentshehadconfrontedthepreviousdayby a bulletin thechest.Themovieendswith a voiceof Danny readingthelastlinesof his paperwhich statesthathateis a burdenandlifeis tooshortto be wasted.
Ebert,Roger. "AmericanHistory X 1998."Friday Octomber 1998. American History X. Saturday April 2014<http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/american-history-x-1998>.
Susan.American History X. Saturday April 2014<http://www.edward-norton.org/audio/ahxclips.html>.
Tatara,Paul. "Review: `American History X` too black and white."Friday Octomber 1998. CNN.com. Saturday April 2014<http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Movies/9810/30/review.american.history.x/>.