What Makes the Dream American?
A Critical Thought Analysis
University of Louisville
Gran Torino: In a nutshell
A racist Korean War veteran and recent widower, Walt Kowalski is living in a crime ridden town in Detroit, Michigan. Walt’s once all White neighborhood has become occupied by the Hmong people. The Hmong people represent a part of Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Laos, and China. The Hmong came to America because during the war they fought on the American side and the Vietnamese waged a war against the Hmong people after the Americans left. Due to this change in neighbors, Walt is now forced to confront his own lingering prejudice when a troubled Hmong teen, Thao Vang Lor, from next door attempts to steal his prized 1972 Gran Torino, (Ford model car) Walt himself helped assemble on the care line. It is decades after the Korean War has ended, and aging veteran Walt Kowalski is still haunted by the horrors he witnessed on the battlefield. The viewers notice the power distance created among the gang affiliated persons and the nonaffiliated when the gang has tried to kidnap Thao, Walt’s neighbor, from his home. Walt, in an attempt to get the “gooks” off his lawn turns his same rifle; he pointed at Thao when he attempted to steal Walt’s Gran Torino, on the gang members and scares them away. The Hmong show their gratitude to Walt, by making Thao pay penance for attempting to steal the Gran Torino. Despite the fact that Kowalski wants nothing to do with the young troublemaker, he realizes that the quickest way out of the situation is to simply cooperate. In an effort to set the teen on the right path in life and “toughen him up,” Walt turns from being Thao’s grumpy racist neighbor into being a helpful almost father figure. In the process of all of this, Kowalski discovers that the only way to lay his many painful memories to rest is to finally face his own blinding ethnocentric views about other cultures...
References: Eastwood, C.(Director, Prouducer).( 2008). Gran Torino. [Motion picture]. United States:
Warner Home Video
Shiraev, E., & Levy, D. (2013). Cross-Cultural Psychology: Critical Thinking and Contemporary Applications (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson (Allyn & Bacon).
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). (2009).
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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