Report on Walt Kowalski
University of Phoenix
Cultural Diversity and Special Populations
October 12, 2009
According to Kiosk (2006), “Culture is an important guiding force in individuals' life and it shapes not only their perceptions, but their relationships with people and the world around them. Culture, in some ways, defines and organizes reality for people” (Kiosk, 2006). “An individual’s lifestyle, guiding beliefs and basic assumptions about life are also affected by culture” (Kiosk, 2006). Cultural diversity covers the entire range of the human experiences. The film Gran Torino is an excellent film that portrays the differences in culture. This film specifically shows differences in culture amongst Americans and Hmong’s, an Asian ethnic group. This is a report about the film Gran Torino. This report will explore the cultural diversity and cultural issues displayed in the film, as well as the benefits and drawbacks as portrayed by the character Walt Kowalski. This report will also provide culturally competent strategies that could improve the cultural issues. Background of Walt Kowalski
The film “Gran Torino” is primarily about a man by the name of Walt Kowalski and his relationship with his neighbor Thao. Walt is a retired American Ford automobile assembly line worker and a Korean War veteran. The film begins at his wife’s funeral. From this the viewer is able to see Walt’s relationship with his family, which is not a good one. Walt views his relatives as rude, spoiled and self-regarding. Walt seems to be very angry and unapproachable. His language would lead one to believe he is quite prejudice. As the film continues, the viewer learns that Walt lives in a community that not only has different ethnic groups residing in it, but also resides in a community with gang violence. Despite Walt’s rough exterior and prejudice demeanor, this film shows the development of a relationship between Thao. Thao is Walt’s Asian or Hmong teenage neighbor. The two were off to a bumpy start. This is because Thao, under pressure from his gang member cousin, tried to steal his 1972 Gran Torino. The 1972 Gran Torino is Walt’s prize possession and he has kept it in mint condition. Despite the rough start, Thao and Walt become friends. Walt helps Thao in the area of manhood, helps him obtain a job and even gives him the 1972 Gran Torino by the end of the film. By the end of the film, Walt refers to Thao as his friend; a friend who was willing to give his life to protect. Cultural Issues and Diversity
Different cultures have different patterns of behavior based on what they consider to be normal may not be to other cultures. Cultural issues occur when there is a breakdown of communication or understanding between cultures. Overcoming cultural issues requires cultural competence. One needs to be aware that certain actions can be taken to overcome these cultural issues and they have to start with the individual. Understanding that stereotyping is wrong and that it can be damaging to people is a good start. Stereotyping groups of people often leads to negative images of certain groups or people. This type of behavior is eliminated by becoming aware of cultural differences. Language barriers also cause problems between different cultures. Sometimes the same words can have different meanings to different people. When confused, asking for clarification is a good way to overcome these barriers. For Walt, he has some prejudice towards his Asian neighbors that probably stems from his experience in the Korean War as well as his experience while working in the American car company. Walt is set in his ways and also exhibits prejudice towards others. He tends to get in altercations with others whom he does not agree with. For example he argues with a young white man who is dressed as and tries to act like some of the Black American’s in the...