American History X This is my favorite movie. One would think that America as a more modern society is moving forward with affirmative action, equal rights, and government laws. Differences in skin color and cultural beliefs are the visual characteristics that have caused various hate crimes. Laws that give non-white ethnic groups the rights to share in education and form businesses add a new frustration to white America.
Danny Vineyard, played by Edward Furlong, young life has seen its share of pain and turmoil: first, his father is murdered doing his job and then he witnesses his older brother Derek played by Edward Norton murdering black boys. Derek is a kind of Neo-Nazi, an Honors English student in High School and a protege of the local racist leader. He is also Danny’s hero, but when Derek goes off to prison Danny is left to grow without that role model and catches himself hanging around the same people that brainwashed his brother. After Danny finally sees Derek again he realizes that he has come home a man.
Derek goes into prison as a hardened young man. He immediately makes his presence known to the Aryan convicts and is safe with them. Little does he realize his attitude of purity and devotion gets him nowhere in the prison society. Derek’s belief of purity and “we only deal with our kind” notion is shot when he catches the Aryan crew communicating and even buying goods from the other races. He becomes worn-out from the compromise and goes off on his own. After being raped and humiliated by one of his own men, Derek is visited by Dr. Sweeney, his black high school teacher, who offers his help.
Both of them are worried about Danny and they both realize that he is headed down the same path Derek is departing from. His only argument left is to deal with the prison’s black population who are gunning for him because of his racial affiliation. Later in the movie Derek befriends a black inmate who broke down his perceptions. Little did he know that this friend had put out the word that he be left alone. Derek finishes his term and leaves the prison a changed man. Not only is Derek a man of honor when he comes home he displays a compassion and protectiveness of his family he hasn’t had for years.
This movie isn’t just a incite on prison life but an incite on racial life. American History X’s strong view on the teachings of parents and the laws of our government and how they negatively affect, confuse, and frustrate the youth in today’s society. The movie attempts to expose the effects of hatred on one family and the community around them as well as bringing awareness to all ethnic groups. It allows parents to form an understanding of the world our children live in today. We are not born with or inherit hatred; it is a learned behavior. It is some mean, cruel notion that has to be placed in our mind.