Remember the Titans was based on a true story. Back in 1971, the high schools in Alexandria, Virginia were forced to integrate an all-black and all-white school into T.C. Williams High School. A young black coach, Herman Boone who was new to the community was then hired to replace Bill Yoast, as the head coach of that school. At first Coach Yoast wanted to pursue his opportunities elsewhere, but in the end he changed his mind and stayed to be Coach Boone’s assistant after his students vowed to sit out the season unless he coaches. At the school’s training camp, tension built between the white and black players. But with Coach Boone’s guidance, the team comes together, and slowly unites the whole community. In this movie, the psychological concepts that are applied are racism, persuasion and contact hypothesis. Racism is the prejudice and discrimination formed based on a person’s racial background (Franzoi, 2009). It was shown by the players when they found regarding the changes, where Coach Yoast was replaced by Coach Boone, and they way they acted towards it. They refused to play for the team unless Coach Yoast agrees to continue coaching them. Besides that, the players also showed their prejudice at the very first time when the team met to board the bus to go for the training camp. The black and white students went into separate buses as they refused to accept each other. Another psychological theory that can be observed is peripheral route to persuasion. It is a type of persuasion that takes a more roundabout way by appealing to a person’s emotions and subjective side (Franzoi, 2009). A person is more likely to accept something that manages to associate with positive feeling. In the movie, the scene where this concept was approached was on one of the nights during the training camp. Coach Boone woke the entire team up at 3 a.m. and made them go for an early morning long run to an old battlefield. He then told them how 50,000 men died right in front of where the team was standing, fighting the same fight that they were fighting. He described the battle in details that will not fail to form vivid mental imagery in the students’ mind. Contact Hypothesis was also observed in the movie. It is the principle which helps to bring people who are in conflict together. After the four situational conditions; equal social status, sustained close contacts, intergroup cooperation and social norms favoring equality, the conflict will slowly diminish as they start to understand each other. Later on, a fifth condition, friendship potential, is then added in the reformulated model (Syque, 2010). For the first situational condition, equal social status, was shown when the players regardless of white or black had to eat together in the same place, staying together in the same dorm and also practiced together in the same field. Besides, they were all viewed as players in the field. All the treatments given were equal. However, the second condition, sustained close contact, was clearly encouraged by Coach Boone during the two weeks training camp. He asked every one of them to spend time everyday with teammate of different race and learn about his backgrounds and favors. They were to report back to him until they met every one of the teammates. Next is the intergroup cooperation. To fulfill this condition, a superordinate goal should be created. It is a goal which is too big and important; at the same time, impossible to be achieved without doing it together. The superordinate goal that brought the players together was the prospect of winning the football games and ultimately the state championship. Throughout the season and training camp, they realized that the only way for them to be good enough to achieve the goal is to work hard together and put the differences aside. Social norms favoring equality is the condition where the leaders will publicly state support for equality, and others will follow their lead (Crandall et al., 2002). This can be clearly seen by observing Coach Boone. Although he is black, there was never once that he sided his own people during the practices. He punished all white and black players fairly if they were in the wrong. He also told them that they need to ban the prejudice and discriminating behavior towards other race.The fifth and last condition is friendship potential. This is where friendship is formed and cultivated. Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell disliked each other in the beginning, but after going through the first four conditions in contact hypothesis, they manage to build a friendship among themselves. Even after graduating from high school and no longer teammates, they still stayed as good friends. All in all, Remember the Titans is a very emotional and moving movie. The movie was based on a true story, and the a few psychological concepts such as racism, persuasion and contact hypothesis is observed. It depicts a scene that is common in the world today, the past and likely in the future. Hence, after watching this movie, it is refreshing to see positive outcomes when the people can put the differences aside and shared the same goal for the good of all.
Crandall, C.S., Eshleman, A.E., & O’Brien, l. (2002). Social norms and the expression and suppression of prejudice: The struggle for internalization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 359-378.
Franzoi, S.L. (2009). Social Psychology Fifth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. Syque (2009). Contact Hypothesis. Retrieved April 20, 2010 from World Wide Web: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/contact_hypothesis.htm.