The film American History X (1998) depicts the essence of racial hatred from its roots to severe outcomes. Thus, there is a need to analyze some scenes to show how the movie addresses the patterns of racial hatred and its consequences for individuals who practice it. The motion picture conveys that white supremacy and racial hostility are myths created by racial hatred, and they have fatal outcomes for a white supremacist, hence making him a victim of own beliefs.
The movie begins with the scenes where the main character, Derek Vinyard, kills three African-Americans. His younger brother Daniel becomes a witness of the incident, which forced him to join a racial organization, Disciples of Christ (DOC), founded by Derek (Kaye & Morrissey, 1998). Meanwhile, Derek is paroled after three years of imprisonment and wants to start new life by convincing Daniel to quit white supremacist organization. The movie reveals the story of Derek in prison. The friendship with the African-American inmate showed Derek that his white supremacist’s views are baseless. In addition, in prison, Derek sees how “Nazi brotherhood” cooperates with Latinos and is raped by the members of the brotherhood. With the help of Bob Sweeney, Derek changes his life and realizes that African-Americans are not enemies, and white supremacy is a myth based on unjustified racial hatred. Derek does not want similar fate for his brother and finally convinces him to leave DOC. However, the film conveys that racial hatred cannot be easily forgotten, as Daniel is killed by African-American boy in the restroom of the high school.
The film American History X demonstrates that for the main characters, the notion of white supremacy and domination of white race is inherent. Being affected by the death of his father, Derek is convinced that white people are good and civilized in comparison to African-Americans and Latinos, who come to the US to kill Americans. Thus, the movie argues that white supremacy is a natural (Prorokova, 2015). Derek and Daniel believe that domination of white race is a natural law, which should be defended by any means. Thus, the Disciples of Christ are not haters and anarchists but the protectors of a genuine American lifestyle. However, the depiction of race and ethnicity in the movie is arranged as process that includes the approval of racial hatred, transformation, and cruel but just consequences. In the moment when Derek is imprisoned, the film starts to reshape the notion of race and racial hatred. The Derek’s friendship with African-American prisoner and humiliation caused by “Nazi brotherhood” portrays that white domination is a myth based on unreliable relationships and personal benefits, which could be achieved through racial hatred. Gabbidon and Greene (2012) support the position of the movie regarding racial hatred and white supremacy by conveying that race is a social construct but not some natural condition. The scene where Derek informs the leader of “Nazi brotherhood” that one of the members cooperates with Latinos exemplifies the position of Gabbidon and Greene (2012). The leader answers that he does not believe in white supremacist’s goals, as otherwise, they would not be able to run a profitable business in prison (Kaye & Morrissey, 1998). In this way, the motion picture shows that Derek is wrong since white supremacy is not an inherent condition, as it could be neglected if it contradicts with personal goals.
The film provides several scenes that demonstrate the essence of racial hostility and hatred. It is possible to say that for Derek and Daniel, racial hostility and hatred are undeniable and essential parts of their lives. Interestingly, neither Derek, prior to the imprisonment, nor Daniel question their beliefs (Prorokova, 2015). Gabbidon and Greene (2012) argue that often, racial hostility is an outcome of personal problems and dissatisfaction with social order and rules. The scene that depicts basketball game between white and black athletes supports the position of the Gabbidon and Greene (2012). As stated above, the main reason for conversion of Derek into white supremacist was the murder of his father by African-American drug dealer. Thus, his hatred and hostility are based on personal problems. When he sees the opportunity to get rid of African-Americans from the basketball court by winning the match, Derek tries to address his dissatisfaction with the social norms that allow blacks to play basketball together with whites. Thus, Derek’s racial hatred and hostility perfectly fits the definition coined by Gabbidon and Greene (2012). It should be noted that scenes in the prison depict the process of transformation of Derek’s views regarding race and ethnicity as well as show genuine notion of race (Prorokova, 2015). After making decision to change his life, Derek isolates himself from “white friends” and reads books brought by Sweeney. He is convinced that without protection, he would be killed by African-Americans immediately. However, black inmates do not try to kill him, and it forces Derek to reconsider his principles based on racial hostility and white domination. He starts to realize that racial hatred is a myth, which Derek forced himself to believe in. Interestingly, the motion picture demonstrates that prison, where social dissatisfaction and personal problems do not matter, is a best place to test racial hatred and hostility on the subject of authenticity (Prorokova, 2015). Obviously, the paroled Derek, who drastically changed his life position, exemplifies that racial hatred and hostility have failed the test. In this way, due to original arrangement of the plot, the movie demonstrates the essence of racial hatred and hostility as well as refutes them using the example of transformation of the main character.
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The movie also addresses the outcomes of racial hatred by showing how an offender becomes a victim of own racial hostility. Daniel admired the deed of Derek, which inspired him to become a member of DOC. However, in comparison to eager white supremacist, Daniel does not know how to express his racial beliefs, although being convinced that African-Americans are the reason for all problems in the society. Even though Derek does not commit any crime but just attends the gatherings of DOC, his behavior towards African-American classmates is vividly racial and lacks respect. Gabbidon and Greene (2012) convey that the many crimes on racial basis are conducted due to unjustified and disrespectful behavior of one of the parties, which could result in the negative outcomes for the offenders. To some extent, the film portrays Daniel as relatively innocent individual, who is uncertain regarding his beliefs. However, at the same time, the picture shows that racial hatred is a dangerous behavior, which could provoke the use of force in order to protect oneself (Gerstenfeld, 2013). Thus, even though Daniel being convinced by Derek decides to leave DOC, he is shot by an African-American boy in the restroom of the high school. Obviously, the action of African-American is explained by aspiration to prevent violence, which might have been occurred. It is unreasonable and wrong to justify the murder of Daniel. He was less lucky in comparison to Derek, who obtained the chance to redeem his sins in prison. Thus, the movie portrays Daniel as a victim not only of own racial behavior but also as universal example, which demonstrates the outcomes of racial hatred and hostility.
To conclude, personally, I was deeply moved by the enormous dramatic shade of the movie. I realized that this motion picture provides significant edifying example of how racial hatred is harmful and unjustified. Watching the movie resulted in ambiguous feeling of justice since some characters of the movie, including Daniel, did not deserve their fate. However, such plot made me consider racial hatred as behavior that often strikes back violently.