It is apparent to the viewer from the start this movie is about Prejudice, Racism and Discrimination. Set in a traditionally white southern town in 1971, the effects of court ordered integration are coming down hard on the town’s people. The struggles of being black in a white society that is trying to manage the change that integration has forced on them and the struggle of being white in a time of radical change when they are being forced to alter their attitudes and beliefs about blacks are quite evident. Within this larger context however, there are many other social psychology principles and concepts going on (e.g., Self-Concept, False Consensus and Uniqueness Effect, Conformity, Obedience, Evaluation Apprehension, In and Out Groups, Proximity, Collectivism and Conflict). The interactions, experiences and relationships between individual people and groups demonstrate these principles and concepts clearly in many cases. Prejudice will be the first principle this paper will explore because it is front and center in a large part of the movie. Persuasion and Social Identity are the second and third principles present in the movie that will be explored. The last principle to be examined, Superordinate Goals, however may be the most important one of the movie. It sets up the ‘good feeling ending’ and leaves movie goers with the idea that together we can really conquer what may seem to be insurmountable problems, especially since the movie is based on a true story. Principle #1: Prejudice The Scene: “The New Assistant”- Coach Yoast and Assistant Coach Tyrell are taking several of their white football players, who left practice to join in a race riot, back to their office so they can ‘cool down’. When the entire group arrives at the office, Coach Boone is inside waiting for a meeting that was scheduled for him and Coach Yoast. Gerry Bertier and Coach Tyrell are insulting black people while they are walking to the office and continue to disparage black Page 2 of 12
Film Analysis Research Project_Nadler.docpeople in front of Coach Boone. Coach Yoast and Coach Boone state that neither of them want to be in this position and don’t like it. They are courteous to each other, but no more than that. Coach Tyrell on the other hand, continues to insult black people including direct digs at Coach Boone while Coach Boone remains courteous and polite, but does get a few off hand remarks in. The Principle: Myers defines Prejudice as “a negative prejudgment of a group and its individual members” (Meyers, 2007). Prejudice is a general term that can encompass many areas such as race, gender or age. This paper will focus on racial prejudice only. An important distinction about prejudice is that prejudice is an attitude or belief and not an action or behavior. Discrimination is the action or behavior that stems from prejudicial beliefs and attitudes. The attitude we form from a prejudgment will affect our beliefs, desires to act and feelings toward that person or group. The attitude formed can often result from the formation of stereotypes or can come from subconscious thoughts and it can originate for many different reasons. One reason is a person’s desire for social status and their need to maintain that status once it has been achieved. Research has shown by holding our perception of our social identity high, we feel better and more superior to others (Smith and Tyler, 1977). Therefore, putting others down will make us feel better. An emotional source of prejudice is frustration in relation to competition. “Those who believe that they have lost wages or jobs because certain groups are willing to work more cheaply have sometimes expressed their frustration through prejudice.” (“Prejudice and Discrimination”, 2009). If we see someone attain something we desire and have not attained it yet ourselves, we will most likely become frustrated and angry. Our anger may then reveal itself as a negative bias toward that person, a prejudice....
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Jamieson, G. Harry. Communication and Persuasion. New York: Routledge, 1985. Page 142
Myers, David G. Exploring Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. Several pages.
“Prejudice and Discrimination.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2009. Historica Foundation of Canada. May 10, 2009 .
Remember the Titans. Gregory Allen Howard, Writer; Boaz Yakin, Director; Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Technical Black Productions; Denzel Washington, Will Paton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst. 2000. DVD. Walt Disney Pictures, 2000
Smith, Heather J. and Tyler Tom R. “Choosing the Right Pond: The Impact of Group Membership on Self-Esteem and Group-Oriented Behavior”. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Volume 33, Issue 2 (March 1997): Pages 146-170
“Social Identity Theory”
Turner, John C., Michael A. Hogg, Penelope J. Oakes, Stephen D. Reicher and Margaret S. Wetherell. Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-Categorization Theory. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1987.
Wegner, D. M., and Erber, R. “The Hyperaccessibility of Suppressed Thoughts”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63 (1992); 903-912.
“What to Tell Your Child About Prejudice and Discrimination.” Anti-Defamation League. 2001. Anti-Defamation League. May 12, 2009. < http://www.adl.org/what_to_tell/ whattotell_learning.asp>
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