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Essay about American History X

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Filed with violence and racial overtones, American History X managed to take a subculture and bring it to the front of the viewer’s mind. Seventeen-year-old Danny, a budding skinhead, is forced to rewrite his Civil Rights paper after the original was rejected by both the school and his principal. The black principal tells his he is being removed from his original history class and being put in his version of a history. The first assignment, tell the story of his formerly incarcerated older brother Derek. Derek, himself was a reformed skinhead, who while incarcerated in prison for manslaughter, learned of the realities of prison life and the hypocrisies that existed in his racial theology. Unable to change his violent past, Derek makes certain upon release to change his younger brother’s direction in life. The next day after he was able to remove both he and his brother from their white-supremist gang, a black gang member in the school bathroom guns down Danny.
Although Danny’s death came at such an inopportune time for the family, it seemed to illustrate the director’s vision. The racial tension littered throughout the narrative had to come to head eventually. In this case, it was in a negative fashion. In some of Danny last words he states, “Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed all of the time”. All the hate being held by each of the characters can only cause conflict. Acceptance brings friendship. Continuing to live such a lifestyle can only bring destruction to one’s self, in Derek’s case prison in Danny’s death. This fiction film enable the viewer to see a subculture that might not necessarily viewed by the greater American audience. The director is able to manipulate the scene in order to portray the desired symb...


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...s the prisoners as well as the administration. During his period the rich were able to buy there way into particular incentives such as day passes and visitors. With that type of control some prisoners can gain more power than the guards that oversee them. Lastly, violence is a universal means to gain power. In the case of the white crime in the movie, violence was a means to gain control over a slowly retreating “American” society. Violence with the prison is a mean to impress a level of control over those subjected to its scope. Physically and mentally violence is a means to subdue the prisoner. Foucault explains that although modern guard violence is physical it is a means to control the soul of a man. Life with in prisons is a struggle of balancing the powerful with the powerless. Without one there would be no other and the intricate prison set up would suffer.



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