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By JasonAthana Sep 08, 2013 1141 Words
Gran Torino shows that racism can be overcome with understanding.

1. Racism: Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief. 2. Understanding: Sympathetically aware of other people's feelings; tolerant and forgiving: "people expect us to be understanding".

* Walt was able to overcome his racism with understanding

* Walts family was not

* The gangs were definitely not

* Hmong family were able to overcome the racial barriers


Walt understands Hmong so he is no longer racist - In those early scenes where Walt glares spitefully at the house next door, trading barely audible taunts with the elderly Hmong grandmother affixed to the front porch, the character's overt racism and grizzled rage are played to almost comic effect.

Hmong’s begin to understand walt – At first the Hmong family are wary of Walt and are initially unaccepting of him.

where there is no understanding there is racism - white gang abuses thai, black gang is about to abuse sue, walt’s family at the end - If everyone is honest with themselves they will acknowledge a level of prejudice for those they do not understand and that are different. 

Prejudice breeds in ignorance. 


GOAL 1: consistent tense all the way through
GOAL 2: stick to proper essay structure
GOAL 3: avoid using same words too many times in essay
Clint Eastwood’s movie ‘Gran Torino’ demonstrates that the worldwide problem of racism can be overcome with understanding. An example of this from Gran Torino is Walt’s developing relationship with his Hmong neighbours. At first he didn’t understand why they did certain things, but eventually began to appreciate their culture. Walt’s unfavourable beliefs about his neighbours were equally met on the other side. His neighbours at first were not accepting of Walt’s behaviour, especially when Sue invited him into their household. Their personal growth however also mirrored Walt’s. They also began to understand that the reason Walt acts like he does is because it is accepted by his culture. Where there is no mutual understanding between people of different races in this movie, racism exists. A level of prejudice is inevitable when a lack of compassion predisposes people to make judgements not based on reason.

The main character, Walt initially was very distrustful and prejudiced towards his neighbours who are of Asian descent, but he grew to understand them and their culture and eventually was able to build a strong relationship with them. This is an example of how Gran Torino shows us that racism can be overcome through understanding. In those early scenes where Walt glares spitefully at the house next door, trading barely audible taunts with the elderly Hmong grandmother affixed to the front porch, the character's overt racism and grizzled rage are due to ignorance about the people of a different race. As Walt begins to get his head around the complicated Hmong culture, the racial barrier between the neighbours starts to corrode, and he is able to see past their odd tendencies and see them for the kind people they are. This change is evident especially when Walt starts calling Thao by his real name instead of calling him “Toad”. “Toad” is a disrespectful name comparing Thao to the unpleasant-looking animal. By changing the name that he calls him he acknowledges that Thao is a human being, not defined by his race. Walt’s personal growth is a great example of how Gran Torino shows the viewer that racism can be overcome with consideration.

Racism is not only a matter of white supremacy, but it also works equally the other way. The Hmong family, especially the grandma, initially disapproved of Walt before beginning to understand where he has come from and what his life has entailed, after which they were able to overlook his minor transgressions of the rules of their culture and were able to accept him as a neighbour and a friend. When Sue invites Walt into their home for the first time, her family “do not respect him. They don’t even want to look him in the eye.” The Hmong people feel this way about Walt until they become properly acquainted with him. As they begin to empathise with him, they begin to enjoy his company and respect him. Eastwood’s film teaches us that like this example, all cases of racism can be solved through mutual understanding and appreciation.

In the film Gran Torino, relationships between people of different ethnicities, where unlike Walt and his neighbours’, there is no understanding or empathy, involve at least an element of racism or a feeling of racial superiority. If everyone is honest with themselves they will acknowledge a level of prejudice for those they do not understand and that are different. This is the same for the characters of Gran Torino. Characters that do not recognize that different cultures interpret different things as acceptable behaviour are discriminative against people of those cultures/races. Or in other words, prejudice breeds in ignorance. This is apparent when the gang of African-Americans that interrupt Sue’s date say stereotypical things to Walt and Sue. Another example is when a gang of white people driving by in their car racially abused Thao. In these two instances, the gangs classified the different races only by their stereotypes, without any understanding of the race itself and its principles. Maybe the fact that both cases involve gangs is significant, as people who are racist do share a common gang mentality. They don’t attempt to understand other groups/cultures, and despite not knowing anything about them, determine that they are superior and that it is acceptable to discriminate against the minorities. Gran Torino shows us that where there is no consideration and compassion between people of different backgrounds, there is racism.

Clint Eastwood’s film Gran Torino shows that overcoming racism is a matter of consideration and empathy. Walt feelings towards his Hmong neighbours are a prime example of this. At first he is apprehensive and rude when dealing with them, but as he begins to understand their culture and rituals his relationship with them begins to blossom. The neighbours’ development also illustrates how racism can be overcome with understanding as their feelings and personal growth throughout the film mirror Walt’s. They were also wary of Walt when they first met, but eventually began to understand the difference in culture and build a relationship with him. Where there is no understanding between races in this movie, there is racism. This prejudice between people of different ethnicities is due to ignorance about the tendencies and principles of people of those ethnicities. This is shown through random abuse that was thrown at Thao, Sue and Walt by the gangs. In closing, Gran Torino teaches the audience that prejudice ultimately breeds in ignorance.

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