American History X Analysis
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American History X
Hate is part of the human condition. From our very beginning of our being comes our need to judge and be apprehensive toward people that are strange to us. In the classic film “American History X”, directed by Tony Kaye, two brothers are raised in a white supremacist world of racial hatred, self- pity, and social ignorance. It is only through the hard work and concern of a couple people that saved them.
The movie opens with a scene from the ocean, forecasting a recurrent theme in the movie. The water is a metaphor for the cleansing of hate. The brothers, Derek and Danny Vineyard, were raised along with their two sisters by their parents in Venice, California. Derek was the eldest of the children, Danny the third child. Dereks father Dennis died when Derek was still in high school. Dennis is not the main focus; however he was influential in placing the seed of racism and hate in his sons heads. At dinner one day Derek was telling everyone that he had been assigned to read a novel written by an African American author by his new English teacher, Bob Sweeny. While his excitement about the material was obvious, his father disapproved of the study. He tells Derek and the rest of the family how the minorities are “taking over”, even going so far as to say that “We dont want to know them.” Dennis wasnt even a born in the wool white supremacist; its just that he had witnessed the replacement of two Caucasian firefighters by two African Americans, as the result of new affirmative action laws. This experience led him to think about the possibility of him being replaced by a minority.
Because of this, Derek began to gain more knowledge in the areas he didnt know about. Throughout the next years, Derek and Danny began to hate that which they did not know about. Their fathers later death, the result of a random bullet from an African American gunman further seated their hatred for the unknown. When his father was killed, Derek began to talk to Cameron Alexander, a white supremacist known to circulate racist propaganda and head small groups. Derek realizes later that Cameron “brainwashed” him and his friends into believing his racist propaganda.
Cameron did this much in the same way that Adolf Hitler did, blaming their petty woes on minorities. His house began to be the hang out place for the people he taught, a safe haven. He often sent Derek and others on little missions to openly criticize minorities.. one such example is the wreckage of a nearby store. Apparently, the grocery store had once been owned by a local Caucasian, but had recently been bought by a Korean.
Derek showed the peak of his hatred when he killed to African American men that were trying to steal his car from his home. When he did it, he saw it as something to be proud of, but while in prison, he changed his mind. While Derek was part of the majority in the outside world, in prison he was part of the minority. As an African American inmate in whom Derek later befriended put it, “In the joint, you da nigger, not me.” Derek felt apprehension because of this, and sought safety with a small handful of white supremacists. When he later offended the leader, they forgot his past friendship and gang-raped him in the shower.
Because he realized that his own group was