Hotel Rwanda vs. Erin Brockovich

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Rwandan Genocide Pages: 5 (1649 words) Published: April 4, 2012
Two Different Ways to Murder Thousands of People
Hotel Rwanda and Erin Brockovich are two provocative films that take a look at separate deviant acts but still present similar dangerous social problems. The conflicts that are portrayed are different in the means of operation but both share a similar end with the endangerment of thousands of people. We will examine how these deviant decisions affect both their societies and the reasons behind these atrocious acts. Hotel Rwanda is a very graphic film filled with a tremendous amount of deviance and social problems. The Hutu tribe feels that the Tutsi should not be in power and the Hutu extremists try to overtake their position. The social problem is they want control over their part of Africa but do not have the proper means to go about it in a civilized manner. Without a proper education, a legitimate democracy, adequate money for food, water and shelter, the Hutu feel that they must gain power in order to better their lives. The only way they can do this is to commit a mass genocide against the Tutsi tribes. This event can be seen as a result of Robert Merton’s Anomie theory, or sometimes called strain theory. Merton’s theory “holds that crime increases – as do other forms of deviance – when the social structure prevents people from achieving culturally defined goals (e.g. Hutu bettering their lives) through legitimate means (e.g. an election). This gap between goals and means is called structural inequality or anomie”. (Tepperman 2010) The persisting structural gap that the Hutu were experiencing was stopping them from rising to prominent political positions within Africa and left their people feeling angry, worthless and forgotten about. Unfortunately, they turned to the ultimate form of deviance and began heartlessly murdering all the Tutsi people they came across. Quickly developing a mob mentality increasingly becoming more and more violent in large groups. The Hutu began to show displeasure because they were being discriminated against and excluded from powerful positions within the economy, resulting in a very tough life. This caused feelings of resentment to grow within a hostile community experiencing a strongly persisting structural gap, which caused the Hutu to push back and lead a vicious rebellion. It started with relatively low forms of deviance such as harassment and assaults, but quickly the level of violence and deviance escalated into a very large and serious social problem. It was easy for the Hutu to slip into such a campaign of erratic behavior as they felt they had been wronged on many levels. All four aspects of Robert Merton’s four strains are present and result in the Hutu’s justification to commit these vicious crimes. Merton states: They are most likely to result in crime when they… 1) Are seen as unjust

2) Are seen as high in magnitude
3) Are associated with low social control
4) Create some pressure or incentive to engage in criminal coping

These are all traits that tie in with the Hutu’s problems perfectly, which supports the idea that they would have turned to violence feeling that it was a last ditch effort to fix the wrong doings that were pushed onto them. As listed below: 1) The Belgian colonists left the Tutsi in charge unfairly over the Hutu as they abandoned Africa (unjust favoritism) 2) The Tutsi ruling influences and diminishes all the of the Hutu’s standards of living (a large in magnitude problem) 3) There is not much social control/policing/government interference in Africa (low social control) 4) If the Hutu win they can take control of the economy and earn more money for themselves and better their families lives (very large incentive for criminal activity)

As you can see the stakes are very high in this conflict and the strain the Hutu were experiencing was simply too much for them to sit back and accept. Feelings of rebellion soon overtook their people and influenced them to...
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