A Review of the American Subculture Group Known as the Skinheads Vanessa R. Wood
In the world there are many different, interesting and complex cultural groups. One of these groups is known as Skinheads. Although they have been known to be very closed minded and negative, they are still an interesting cultural group that should be understood better to fully grasp the reasons behind their behaviors and actions. The moved that I reviewed was American History X, which is a movie about one family that is deeply affected by the cultural aspects of the fascist movement (Kaye, 1998). Summary
The movie is about Derek and Danny Vineyard and their involvement with a Skinhead group in Venice Beach California. Derek was a leader in the Skinheads group in Venice Beach under a very influential fascist man who taught him everything he knew. Derek began running with the group because his father was killed by a black gang member while at work with the fire station and he was filled with hate and sadness because of his dad’s death. Derek recruited other scared and hurt youth and encouraged them to rise up against minorities because Derek claimed they were ruining the country. He eventually catches a few black gang members breaking into his car and kills several of them before brutally curb stomping one of them, all which is done in front of his little brother Danny (Kaye, 1998). After the murders, he is sent away to jail where he tries to use the protection of the Skinheads in prison but finds out that the leader of the Skinheads in prison deals directly with minorities to sell drugs. Derek begins to disassociate with the Skinhead group and plays basketball with other races and begins to get along with others. As revenge, the Skinhead group rapes Derek and leaves him unconscious in the showers. He speaks with Dr. Sweeney, a teacher and outreach worker who he asks for help from. He gives him literature and advice and Derek begins to change his outlook on life. Lamont, a black man that Derek becomes friends with advises him that he is going to be beaten by the other gangs. Derek waits for a fight, but nothing ever happens and he eventually gets paroled. When he gets out he finds that his little brother Danny is going down the same path he once was. Derek tells his little brother of his experience in jail and tells him that he was wrong and had everything wrong in his ways (Kaye, 1998). His little brother is touched by Derek’s story and begins taking down the fascist insignia all over his room and writes an essay about the experience his family went through and how perhaps Derek was right and that hate is wrong. As he is going to turn in his essay, his brother drops him off at school and Danny gets shot in the bathroom by a black boy that had earlier felt persecuted by Danny. In the end of the movie his essay flies through the air and it is finished with Danny saying a quote by Abraham Lincoln saying “we are not enemies, we are friends,” (Kaye, 1998). I think that what interests me about the Skinhead cultural group is that it really is a group powered by hate and anger, but it is so much more complex than it appears to an outside observer such as myself. I think that in order to really be able to help people become accepting of other cultures, we need to know why they act the way they do. I know that in many classes I’ve taken, I have been asked to define mental illness and define different diagnosis. I believe that a mental problem can be defined as a skewed version of reality or norms in a society which affects basic life. If that was the case, Skinheads could possibly be diagnosed with mental illnesses, but they are really just acting on the social and cultural group they were involved in. Psychological Processes
This culture bases much of its energy on aggression and the expression of aggression to those outside of their in-group culture. The group itself is...
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