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American History X

Posted by Player under Drama

American History XA long time ago, Edward James Almost, made a very interesting film about Latino gang culture, the film was American Me, and it explains a lot about how Latino gangs formed and how the problems persist to this day. American History X reminded me of that film.

AHX is really about how one white family is torn apart by white hate culture. It tells the story of Derek and Dani. Two brothers who turn to white hate propaganda for answers to their own questions. The film confronts some of the things which white culture does not publicly admit, like fear of blacks and hatred of what some people call the un-americanizing of America, as more immigrant cultures change the status quo of everyday American life.

Derek is played by Edward Norton (of Fight Club fame). Derek is your average smart kid in high school, when his firefighter father is shot and killed in a black neighborhood. Derek blames blacks for killing his father and leaving a family of four white kids alone with a single mother. It is at this point that Derek turns to the supremicist talk of a local man who quickly uses Derek to recruit other poor white kids to start a skinhead movement. Derek is exceptional on all fields, he is smart, athletic, and most of all gullible. He quickly takes on the role of his father at home and kicks out his mother’s jewish boyfriend, but what changes his life the most is when he starts a turf war with blacks on the basketball court. This leads to stand off outside his house where he kills black teenagers, partly in self-defense, except for the last victim. For this Derek is sent to prison for three years where he learns the truth of white-hate culture and the committement which skinheads in prison have to the movement.

In the mean time his younger brother Dani is learning to live in ever more popular black world, where whites take a second place to blacks, latinos, and asians. He fully embraces the rhetoric of Derek’s skinhead friends and is given up on by his teachers except for one black teacher who knows the family and who was Derek’s favorite teacher many years ago. He refuses to give up on Dani and asks him to rewrite a paper he did on Hitler. Instead he asks Dani to write him a paper on his brother Derek, and what effect did his brother Derek have on him especially. He tells Dani to name the paper AMERICAN HISTORY X.

At this time, Derek is released from prison and he is a changed man. He has hit rock bottom and has seen that the skinhead movement was bullshit rhetoric and he wants to save his family and keep Dani away from the movement. Like American Me, AHX has an unhappy ending, but that is to be expected.

Norton’s performance is good throughout the film and while the film does make strong arguments for hate culture with comments about how white Europeans came to this country and prospered while blacks were freed over a hundred years ago and they still can’t prosper, and how suburb white kids (protestants) are stupid for embracing black culture and wanting to be black themselves, and so on…. I could not help thinking that the film holds back still. The film does not go far enough in portraying minorities correctly, I get the feeling that that the director did not want to portray blacks and latinos as violent or as drug users, and so what we see are only a few negatives for minorities in general, while for whites, we get a much more negative picture. Dani’s world is racist, it is perhaps racist against him for being white, but we only see some of this. Derek’s world is brutal and is the main point of the story.

In the end we get the moral. As a person we have all this anger, which causes hate, which makes us a violent people, which leads to our own personal decline.

4 out 5 stars

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