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American History X Film Analysis

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American History X Film Analysis

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  • October 30, 2012
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The film I chose to do my reflection paper on is called American History X, and is one of my all-time favorites. The movie is about a man named Derek Vinyard, an impressionable young man who becomes involved in a “white power” gang after the murder of his father. After Derek’s incarceration, his younger brother, Daniel Vinyard, idolizes him and begins to go down the exact same path. Throughout Derek’s time in prison he realized that he was manipulated by a man named Cameron, and his entire outlook on race was wrong. His teacher, Dr. Sweeney, helps him overcome his anger and set him on a path to save his younger brother from the same fate.

The beginning of the movie starts out with a brief flashback of the night Derek was arrested. A few black gang members are armed outside of his house. Without hesitation, Derek goes out his front door and murders them all. Danny witnesses the ruthless killings, and is traumatized. Even though Derek caused his family many hardships, Danny still thought of him as a hero and wanted to be the epitome of his older brother. He started associating with a man named Cameron Alexander, the leader of their “white power” subculture. It is explained in the film that there were no white gangs in Venice Beach before Cameron Alexander came along. After Cameron and Derek became friends, he used Derek for his popularity to gain more members for his white gang. Stigmas against all non-whites were the backbone to their success. They created an entire subculture together, by manipulating frustrated white kids who were tired of being threatened by black gangs. Their subculture was viewed as deviant to anyone on the outside, but as deviance is relative, they were taking back what was rightfully theirs. Robert Merton’s strain theory argues that deviance comes about when members within a society do not have equal ability to achieve socially accepted goals. The white children felt as if they’re equality was being threatened; that they’re...