American History Essay

1478 words - 6 pages

American History


It is important to be proud of who you are and where you have come from. After watching the film American History X, whites are far from proud. We are ashamed to admit that people just like us can act in such a horrible and disillusioned way toward those that are different. As you watch, you see scenes of brutal violence, hear songs of hate and feel the pain of all involved. These acts show the viewers how easily young minds can be influenced to believe anything. Teachers, parents, siblings or any person of authority in a child's life can have this deep of an impact on them. American History X is the story of how powerful an influence people of importance can have upon youth. Adults can be the enemy of many teenagers. Yet when a kid is vulnerable and looking for adoration and love, they can latch onto any adult that makes them feel important or special. Cameron is the first example of the adult filling an empty space. Both Derek and Danny Vinyard, the neo-Nazi brothers of the film, fall for every word Cameron says to them. At one point in the film, Cam makes a comment to Danny about his black school principal Dr. Sweeney. To him, Sweeny is a "manipulative, self-righteous Uncle Tom" for making Dan re- write a civil rights paper because it was about Mein Kampf. Sweeney has his own opinions about Cameron stating that he preys on "insecure, frustrated, and impressionable kids. This assumption is dead on. As the organizer and unofficial leader of the Venice Beach white gang, what the middle-aged Cameron has to say about being a patriot and a proud "white Protestant" fills a void for the kids. Many, as seen most apparently in Seth, the overweight, clumsy, and dim-witted teen, have low self-esteem and lacking home lives. Cameron fills the youth with the words of Adolph Hitler, giving them something to believe in; the power and superiority of the white race. The hate he has for people who are different grows inside the teens of the gang. The ultimate manifestation of his brainwashing is the murder of two black men by Derek. Yet Derek's downfall and racist notions were not all caused by Cameron's propaganda, but the influences of his father. It isn't until the near end of American History X that the viewer finds the root causes of Derek's white supremacist attitudes. A black and white scene shows his whole family happily eating dinner together. His father asks him about his studies in school and at the mention of black literature, Derek's father begins his rant about "trading good books for black books." He tells Derek not to believe everything his teacher, Dr. Sweeney, has to say. As the conversation plays on, it snowballs into supposed "Affirmative Blacktion" and white firemen being beat for a job just because the others were black. In the end, Derek's father tells him, "It's all nigger bull*censored*." The viewer sees how Derek soaks in whatever his father says and accepts it as truth, claiming to "see what he's saying." When...

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