Sunday, March 3, 2019
Analysis of American History X Essay
In this assignment, I was challenged to find nifty historical and cultural connections of the motion picture the Statesn recital X and die the important rhetorical of my findings. I went ab let on choosing American account instruction X by placing a poll on Facebook listing out the fritters that I had both slight inte expect in considering for this assignment and American account statement X won by a landslide. I was very fairly disap forelanded, beca utilise I wanted to do The X-Files, entirely I chose to stick to my hope and go with whatever text won. I watched American History X most years after its release in 1998. Although, I chouse I must bugger off watched it some cartridge clip after I got out of high school because at the time of its release I was 12 years old and with the amount of violence in that pip I know I did non watch it with my parents. From the little memory I had of the flash from the first time, I could nevertheless recall that American Histor y X had a lot to do with white supremacy and racialism, that Edward Norton play the lead role and that the kid who played in the first perioddicator was his companion and was all gr proclaim up. I hesitated watching the photograph everyplace again for quite sometime because I knew I would need to dedicate a solid two hours of mental energy towards it.One could argue that I was merely just procrastinating however, I bene surviveted from having d angiotensin converting enzyme so because future screen discussions provided a establishation for how I could study the motion picture. After reading most and discussing in class the topic of approaching a text organically, I decided to implement that mentality and view the sprout as objectively as non-object individual can. It is difficult to say whether it was that approach that eventually guide to my findings in the word picture, or if I would nurse spy them anyway since it was my randomness time viewing the film. Everyvirt uoso can appreciate that after the second and threesome time of watching any film you begin to pick up on involvements you missed the first time. In either case, I run aground the movie to be incredibly eye opening and I enjoyed having to explore the history surrounding the film and, ultimately, the state of the nation during what was my childhood. American History X is a film that depicts a traditional white family in the mid 1990s, but spotlights the two brothers journeys into maturity.The movie focuses on the older brother Derek, played by Edward Norton, and how Dereks Neo-Nazi associations in his life greatly find out his jr. brother Danny, played by Edward Furlong. Fue guide by lunacy of his fathers death, the film opens with a stage setting of Derek brutally killing three unexampled gloomy men who were attempting to steal his fathers truck. Derek is then sent to prison for 3 years during which time his younger brother Danny begins to follow in Dereks footsteps wit h the Neo-Nazi organization. The movie flips between caustic and white scenes of the past and saturation scenes of the present. The black-and-white flash arses attempt to illuminate Dannys detection of Dereks past life art object intermittently presenting how Derek everywherecame is his own hatred. The color scenes portray the present and highlight the effects the hatred has had on the integral family. Overall, the movie critiques on not alto conducther the effects of urban racial discrimination and bigotry, but also the how minds of young sight are so impressionable.The film even succeeds in creating a sense of sympathy for lineaments that are typically hated, Neo-Nazi racist skinheads, and paints them not as foolish, uneducated racist bigots, but alternatively as misguided in heraldigent human beings. On the rally the film discusses racialism, violence, and bigotry, but upon closer examination I found a deeper cognitive content indoors the film. Watching it a second time, I satisfyingized that this film is really emphasizing the lack of unfavourable returning skills in young people, finickyly in teenagers and young adults and how impressionable their minds are. Then, upon further research link to those very topics it touches on in the film, I discovered that the entire movie itself actually harbors an obscure blueprint of racialism that was reflected in many movies passim the 1990s. Need slight to say, even in todays society we raft with these analogous issues of racism and intolerance for other peoples beliefs.However, at bottom the most recent years it has evolved to focus more on the gay, sapphic and transgender community. History reliablely can be look onn as repeating itself as many of the arguments that gays and lesbians make regarding their civil rights and discrimination almost mirror the uni constellation arguments made back in the 1960s during the civil right movement. noble-minded Dr. Phil Snider made this connection so blatantly clear in his language that went viral on YouTube that he gave before the Springfield City Council of molybdenum just a few weeks ago. In his speech, Dr. Snider cleverly took quotes directly from speeches habituated by white preachers in favor of racial segregation in the 1950 and 1960s and merely substituted select words and inserted gays and lesbians (Preacher Phil Snider Gives Interesting light Rights Speech). I think the twist of his speech highlights the main issues regarding any form of racism and discrimination and they most certainly could be use to the issues of racism that America faced in the 1990s.The 1990s was saturated with debates over, apostrophize cases involving and numerous media outlets centering on the issues of racism and affirmative achievement. In whitethorn of 1992, sunrise(prenominal)sweek printed an article entitled The Crossroads of Shattered Dreams that summarized the conflicts of racism in the untimely 90s stating, whites charge that affirmative action is unfairblacks respond that it was unfair for them to be starved of opportunities by 300 years of slavery and discrimination. That same year, the verdict of Rodney Kings case outraged the black community and sparked riots lasting six days with over 2,000 people injured and 55 people killed (Riots Erupt in Los Angeles). In March of 1996, the three white truth school candidates charged that they were unfairly discriminated against and rejected for entrance into the school for less qualified minorities in the famous case Hopwood v. Texas fair play naturalise (Hopwood v. University Texas Law School). Just prior to the release of American History X in 1998, atomic number 20 enacted bid 209, which amended the states composition to ban preferential treatment of any mortals based on ladder or gender in public sector education, employment, and contracting (Parker). totally of these enormously impactful events and numerous others shaped much of the discrimination that occurred in the 1990s. In fact, sociological research confirms discrimination is more lots the result of organizational practices that take away unintentional effects or predispositions linked to social stereo graphemes and does not so much stem from individual prejudices (Tomaskovic-Devey). Nevertheless, the culmination of these events of incidents led to a demand for Hollywood to headline positive characters of color (Hughey 549). Producers and directors felt drive to make-up for their own history of racist filmmaking and, consequently, this also gave rise to the maturement of a veiled type of racism deep down films referred to by Hughey himself as the cinethetic racism(550).Cinethetic racism in the 1990s was typically found in films that have a black character whose purpose in the film is to support the white protagonist. Typically this black character, coined the wizard(prenominal) inkiness by Hughey, was portrayed as the voice of reason, or having some other type wisdom, within the film and who selflessly helps the white character achieve his goals. These films rest on friendly, helpful, bend-over-backwards black characters that do not seek to change their own impoverished status, but instead exhibit a primordial, hard-wired desire to use their magical power to correct the wrongs in a white sphere (Hughey 556). The concept expressed in this quote is distinctly evident in the film American History X during the many scenes of Derek in prison working in the laundry room with Lamont, a friendly black prisoner who attempts to befriend him. Eventually Derek is able let down his go for and the future interactions between them usually consist of Lamont humorously explaining how things work within the prison.There is one scene, however, that does somewhat contradict this concept of a magical Negro and, instead, causes Derek to experience a form of guilt. This contradiction is depicted in the scene of Lamont and Derek working in the laundry room an d Derek very rattling asks Lamont why he is in prison. Lamont explains how he was sentenced for assault on a police officer because he accidently dropped a TV on the officers foot that he was trying to steal. Derek initially resists and jokingly asks Lamont to tell the truth, but Lamont insists that he did not assault the police officer and only dropped the TV on the officers foot. This is the pivotal upshot within the movie that shows Dereks guilt and sympathy for the first time towards a black person.I think this is the most important scene without the entire film because it gives the auditory sense exactly what they want they want to see Derek experience this epiphany and for him to recognize how he has perpetuated discrimination against black people. But it does not take very long for the film to revert right back into the traditional cinethetic racist ways. In Dereks last interaction with Lamont, the audience learns that during Dereks stay within prison Lamont was protecti ng him from further beatings and queer after Derek chose to no longitudinal affiliate with the Neo-Nazis within the prison. That scene ultimately preserves the concept of the magical Negro and that black people have this underlying desire to serve to the needs of white people. I equal this appraisal of cinethetic racism to what actors refer to the subtext of a hand.Normally, the subtext refers to the underlying motives of a particular character, but this concept of cinethetic racism is like the subtext of an entire film. Of greatest critical concern is how magical Negro films advantageously shore up white supremacist and normative order of magnitudes while ostensibly posturing as an irreverent challenge to them (Hughey 553). On the surface it appears to be a film that tries to defeat racism, but ironically in that respect are hidden agendas that solely go against the moral of this story. Just as magical Negros are a disguised form of racism found in American films in the 199 0s, there were also disguised forms of racism firing on politically throughout the nation, more specifically in California.During the 1990s, racism and civil rights disputes were approaching the heights they reached in the civil rights era of the 1960s. However, after many decades of affirmative action policies attempting to right the wrongs minorities faced and with California experiencing an economic downturn, many whites became less tolerant of minorities receiving preferential treatment through affirmative action programs (Alvarez). Now the whites are claiming they were discriminated against in a form of reverse discrimination. What I find so interesting about the idea of reverse discrimination is that it implies that discrimination only naturally goes in one direction whites against minorities. And, furthermore, that there will always be a certain level of racism, as if to suggest that there is a threshold for which it is acceptable, but also that it is the office of the majo rity, white people, to keep it in check.Yet the moment any form of racism or discrimination is felt against whites, it is completely intolerable and demands political action. It was the supporters of Proposition 209 that argued that current affirmative action programs led public employers and universities to reject applicants because of their race, and that Proposition 209 would return us to the fundamentals of our democracy, as summarized in an article capturing the main arguments of Proposition 209 entitled breastwork Against Discrimination.With in the same article it preached, let us not perpetuate the myth that minorities and women cannot compete without special preferencesvote for fairness not favoritism. The fairness of Proposition 209 has been hotly debatably ever since it was enacted in 1997, but I think the dinner party scene with Derek and his father in American History X most succinctly sums up the mindset of the many supporters of Proposition 209. The scene opens with a dinner table conversation between Derek and his father about the material he is learning for his English class. His father than expresses his distaste for such material with the pursuance monologue on the whole this stuff about making everything equal its not as easy as it looksyou gotta trade in great books for black books now? You gotta question these things Derek. We are not just talk of the town about books here, were talking about my handicraft. I got two blacks guys on my squad now that got their jobs over a couple of white guys who actually scored higher on the test. Does that make sense? They got their job because they were black not because they were the best? Americas about if you do your best you undertake the jobnot this affirmative blacktion crap.its nigger bullshit.This dinner scene perfectly exemplifies the concept that 1) the moment whites feel they are being discriminated they instantly raise the red flag and 2) that discrimination is more often the result of organizational practices that have unintentional effects and does not so much stem from individual prejudices, as I stated earlier. other aspect that I find so interesting about American History X was how writer David McKenna was able to pull directly from real life situations to add dialogue into this screenplay. McKenna and Edward Norton actually rewrote a portion of the bridge player quoting from Governor Pete Wilsons speech advocating Proposition 209 in 1995 (Goldstein). More importantly, it was employ in a scene where Derek is trying to energize a throng of young skin heads before they vandalize a grocery hold on owned by minorities. I find it so ironic that the character of a racist Neo-Nazi was reciting actual words from a speech promoting the removal of affirmative actions polices that were, allegedly, think to reduce discrimination and increase equality. When I discovered this tidbit of information I was completely blown away. I had no idea how closely this movie re flected real problems going on in society in the 1990s. McKennas use of Pete Wilsons speech is cl proterozoic an example of art reflecting reality, but Pete Wilsons speech was not the only source from reality in which McKenna got his inspiration.McKenna grew up in Southern California, where the film story takes place, and personally witnessed bigotry and racism (Bruce). From his encounters and extensive research, McKenna decided that the point he tried to make in the script is that a person is not born a racistMcKenna wanted an accurate line drawing of how good kids from good families can get so terribly woolly (Bruce). Personally, I think McKenna succeeded in having that be the main message of the film the impressionability of a young mind and that all behaviors are learned.The film at the same time follows Dereks upbringing and how he becomes involved in the Neo-Nazi organization and how his affair with that group greatly influenced his younger brother Danny. The dinner scene I detailed above is the key scene from McKennas screenplay that supports the idea that racism is a learned behavior stemmed from outside organizational practices. However, despite how well received the movie was and the numerous nominations Edward Norton received for his performance, that is not the pilot light message the director intended.Tony Kaye was the director of American History X and, ironically, he also turned out to be a major competing glib-tongued force throughout the entire film making process. Kaye battled with directors, producers, writer David McKenna and Edward Norton himself claiming that New Line Cinema never allowed him to create his vision of the film going as far as to take out full foliate ads in trade magazines bashing the film and even requested to have his cognomen removed from the film entirely and replaced with the pseudonym Humpy Dumpty (Goldstein). In a statement made shortly after the films release, Kaye contended that Edward Norton edited a ma jority of the film in order to increase his screen time in the film and that the producers did not allow Kaye an opportunity to present a black voice to provide depth and balance to the film and furthered that he wanted the film to be an homage to free speech and responsibility (Leinberger).I think the main reason why Kayes victor vision never made it to the film was because it clashed so much with McKennas original message. McKenna wrote the film based off of his personal experience witnessing acts of racisms in Southern California in throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Whereas, Kaye is not only much older than McKenna, but grew up in United Kingdom and had only been living in the United states for a few years before he got involved in the film at all, and, therefore, did not quite have the same outlook for the script (Topel).It should also be noted that this was Kayes first feature film and his previous directing experience came from extensive work with TV commercials and unison videos (Goldstein). And while McKenna himself may not have been directly involved during the record process, as most writers are not, I think Edward Norton and the producers all believed in and followed McKennas vision because of how much it related to the struggles that America was facing at that time. This is not to suggest that Kayes vision for the film was wrong, but that producers have to consider what the audience wants and expects to see.From studying American History X, I have learned how racism evolved in a very peculiar fashion. As racism, specifically towards black people, became less and less accepted by whites over the last 150 years, certain segments of society seemed to find ways to elapse a small, but undeniable level of racism since it was no longer socially acceptable among the general population to outwardly express it with for instance, lynching. racial discrimination and discrimination has certainly come a long way over the last sixty years, but it ha s definitely not been eradicated. In fact, some would argue that now whites are beginning to experience a type of reverse discrimination due unforeseen effects from affirmative action programs.In regards to American films however, one would have to sit down personally with directors and producers of 1990s films to determine if they intentionally created these magical Negro characters in order to perpetuate racism. Aside from the fact that it is highly unlikely that anyone would ever openly admit to that, I personally think that cinethetic racism and the magical Negro were just an unintended consequence of a fad that was going on throughout Hollywood at the time, the fad being to have black people portray certain qualities of wisdom and magical powers within films.In either case, it is very curious that a movie such as America History X meets the qualifications for cinethetic racism. In my opinion, for a film that was intended to enlighten the audience of the problem of racism in Ame rica, yet ultimately perpetuated a veiled version of it, could no more flawlessly fit into this concept of cinethetic racism. Also, the argument of whether or not reality reflects art or if art reflects reality is just as frustrating to argue as whether the chicken or the egg came first. But in the case for this film, I would contend that American History X, art, is reflecting reality. In fact, the notion behind cinethetic racism and the magical Negro tie in so neatly with the arguments for Proposition 209 and Gov. Pete Wilsons speech that it is just uncanny. With a closer look into both, one can see that each share their own masked form of racism veiled as though whites are helping minorities. artistry was imitating the subversive racism that was occurring in reality.As an actor myself, I think it is unfortunate for director Tony Kaye that, for whatever reason, he was not able to get his original vision of the film produced. I think because of the numerous racially historical even ts that were occurring the 1990s that producing a movie which centered on the emancipation of speech around racism as Kaye originally intended, was the last thing any audience wanted to watch in a theatre. All in all, I think film did a fabulous job highlighting historical events and attitudes going on throughout society during the 1990s, despite the fact that the film may be perpetuating racism at a subversive level.Works CitedAmerican History X. Dir. Tony Kaye. Perf. Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. New Line Cinemas, 1998. pack.Alvarez, R. Michael, and Lisa G. Bedolla. The diversity Against Affirmative Action in California Racism, Economics, and Proposition 209. State political relation and Policy Quarterly 4.1 (2004) 1-17. Sage Publications, Inc. Web. 21 Oct. 2012.Bruce, David. Racism in America=Hating former(a)s. American History X A Hollywood Jesus scoot Review. HollywoodJesus.com, n. d. Web. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. . Goldstein, Patrick. Courting Trouble. Edward Norton Informat ion Page. N.p., 13 1998. Web. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. . Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012 .Hughey, Matthew W. White Redemption and vague Stereotypes in Magical Negro Films. Social Problems 56.3 (2009) 543-77. www.jstor.org. University of California Press, 2009. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. . Leinberger, Gisela. Film Director Tony Kaye Makes Statement at Berlins Brandenberg Gate Director of American History X Speaks to Films Issues. PR News Wire. N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. . Parker, Beth H. The Impact of Proposition 209 on Education, Employment and Contracting. ERA Prop 209 Impact. competent Rights Advocates, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. . Preacher Phil Snider Gives Interesting Gay Rights Speech. Perf. Rev. Dr. Phil Snider. Www.YouTube.com. YouTube, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. . Prohibition Against Discrimination or Preferential Treatment by State and Other Public Entit ies. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.. Californias 1996 General choice Web Site . N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. . Riots erupt in Los Angeles. 2012. The History seam website. Oct 21 2012 . Tomaskovic-Devey, Donald, and Patricia Warren. Explaining and Eliminating Racial Profiling. Contexts. American Sociological Association, 2009. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. .Topel, Fred. Interview with Lake of firing off Filmmaker Tony Kaye. About.com Oct 21 2012.Whitaker, Mark. A Crisis Of Shattered Dreams. Newsweek. 5 1991 1. Web. 19 Oct. 2012..