believe that the time has come to bring up such a historically accurate as well as philosophical film into the scene where the American society is slowly collapsing. I still do not understand how most Americans call this movie which gives such an accurate description and has such valuable lessons to teach about prejudice, overrated! (this is the general critique that goes around the internet).
By my understanding, it is not the history lessons or the plot of the movie that they call “overrated” but the idea that you are expected to actually learn something from this movie. This movie had also received the nickname “Philosophy of hate” as it truly shows that hate is indicted by hate no matter where it comes from. Those without racial prejudice will understand that you cannot quench fire with fire, which once again justifies that most hate on this world is brought over by people who do not want to learn from history.
Summary of American History X
For those of you who did not watch the movie here is a brief summary of what goes on in the movie and the lessons it tries to teach. (Spoiler Alert!!!)
The main protagonist of the movie is Derek Vinyard, a Neo-Nazi that had been marked by childhood for violence and racism who ends up going to prison after killing two black men who tried to steal his car. In prison, he became very good friends with a black man named Lamont and he ended up being beaten up by his own people (other Neo-Nazis) for befriending a Black man.
After he got out of prison he tried to stop his little brother from following his own footsteps. His smaller brother Danny, Idolized Derek for his hate, racism, and violence. As he struggles with his own deeply ingrained prejudices and watches their mother grow sicker, Derek wonders if his family can overcome a lifetime of hate.
Lessons to be learned
The main idea of the Movie is racial prejudice towards black people in American in the ’90s. This was a time where Neo-Nazi groups or other groups made up of white supremacists were quite active and the fight between the two races was always enforced by the hate they had for one another. To put it in simple terms, the film is trying to showcase that hate as well as racism does not have a specific color.
Hate and racism are enforced through the indoctrination received in the childhood years of a person as well as through the harsh life they had to live through. When life is harsh, we tend to blame other people who do not directly impact our harsh lives, but due to the doctrine received as a child, we think that those people have indirectly had an impact on life being harsh
The idea of making your worst possible enemy your best friend is almost impossible to believe by a person who had hated that certain race their whole life. Taking for example the friendship created by Derek and Lamont during prison time. When dropped in a world full of hate with people that simply do not like you even if you approve of their psychopathic ideology, our consciousness will try to evade towards a soul that understands the situation.
Derek was so indoctrinated by hate and racism that he could not believe he was friends with a black person, even to the point where he would neglect other Neo-Nazi members for his black friend.
There is also an indirect message within the movie showing simply how vital a basic education is towards not only a better quality of life but also towards understanding such racial prejudice and how a person should act towards such racial prejudice. This can be shown through the respect Danny shows towards his teacher despite his teacher being black. The same goes for Derek as he was thought by the same teacher. Even if Derek in the beginning hated black people, he always had respect for his teacher as he is the one who gave him a basic education.
At the same time, the respect is mutual as teacher Bob Sweeney is trying to help not only Danny to keep him out of trouble, but also helping Derek through his hard times during his sentence in prison.
Even if this is a story that is made up, the hate represented within the movie is still existing and has been existing for decades now. So why isn’t America learning anything from such a great movie? Is it the fact that most Americans hate to be told that they are wrong or simply too stubborn to admit that their ideology is wrong.
What surprises me, even more, is that this is not even old history, this is something that most Americans have witnessed with their own eyes. It is not just about this specific movie, but every movie, book, or simply a piece of writing that has been created to represent racial prejudice and the hate created around it. It is as if people simply neglect to learn from history as they think it is “living in the past”, but if you do not acknowledge the past and the consequences it had, how are you supposed to evolve?
The main lesson that has to be learned from this, in my perspective is that hate isn’t the answer, as hate has no end, but will bring a quick end. I definitely recommend giving the movie a try!