The folllowing sample essay on Doc American History X discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Throughout this course we have focused on socialization and how people are shaped due to their exposure to a particular environment. When we look at instances of deviance and crimes, to understand the reason why they happen we have to look to the root of the problem, and how it came to be.
American History X is a movie focusing on racism giving us a social-psychological explanation of this deviant behavior. This movie could produce a 10 page paper on deviance but I will try to concentrate on the main issues in the movie.Racism and bigotry are just a taste of the deviant behavior displayed in this movie. The setting is Venice Beach, California, in the 21st century, when the area is increasingly being “taken over” by minorities, and the crime rate is going up.
Some white members of the community are beginning to notice this change for the worse and affiliate it because of the minority groups “flooding their streets in record numbers.” Gangs are forming where families visited the park, legal citizens are beginning to lose their jobs to illegal immigrants, and fights and shootings are as common as birds. In order to “protect themselves” the white people form their own racist Nazi skinhead gang, called the DOC. Groups are formed for an agenda and the socialization process is an ongoing process as seen in the DOC.
Cameron Alexander is the founder of many racist groups and pairs up with the main character Derek Vinyard. Together they are the leaders of the DOC and are involved with seeking out people who share their same view. These two men socialize their members with one-sided reasoning to hate anyone who is not white-protestant. In a speech Derek claims “We are losing our freedom, foreigners can exploit our country…the government policy is weak…it is because of them our community is suffering.” He does not mention that when the white Europeans came to this country our main goal was to live and exploit the land of our country as well. This group is involved not only with racism and hate but with acts of violence. With the proper motivation Cameron feeds on Derek’s leadership to violently protest their hate. Derek organizes the DOC who gives them all the right reasons to make a stand and fight for their freedom. They looted a local grocery store that has been taken over by foreigners employing other immigrant workers. In the process the DOC destroyed most of the store, humiliated, and physically assaulted ; battered the workers. To all the members of the DOC they were simply keeping America, as America was. They were strongly influenced and shaped on their thinking which let to their actions. They did not see their actions as crime but rather a fight for what was right in their minds.The most horrifying scene happens after Danny Vineyard (Derek’s little brother) notices a black man breaking into Derek’s vehicle, which was given to him by his father. Derek promptly gets out of bed and questions Danny on the situation like it is a frequent occurrence. Derek grabs a loaded gun and sees a man on the look out near his front door, one man robbing his vehicle, and the other a getaway driver. Hate, aggression, and evil are displayed from Derek because all these men are black and their “typical behavior” is directly affecting him and his family. He kicks out his door, fires multiple shots killing the lookout man, wounds the man robbing his vehicle, and fires the rest of his shots at the driver as he escapes like he was an FBI agent. He walks over to the wounded black man repeatedly calling him a “nigger” and tells him to bite down on the curb. Derek summons all his hate and commands his foot to kick through the black mans head on the curb, immediately killing him. Officers soon arrive to the scene and pleasure fills Derek’s eyes as he is arrested while Danny watches shocked as can be.Danny was not a hard-core racist as his brother but viewed his brother as a father, and role-model. As we discover later in the movie this was because their father was murdered while in the line of duty as a firefighter. Their father was murdered by a black man, which adds significance to the deeper reasoning of Derek’s involvement with the DOC and why his eyes seemed to have pleasure after murdering the black men. This is when Derek began to hate blacks and minorities. Derek was sentenced to 3 years of jail for voluntary manslaughter. This light sentence could be seen as a gift to the white man for such a harsh crime. Throughout the movie we learn of certain injustices and inequalities that forgive whites, but punish blacks and minorities.While Derek is in prison Danny’s vision is beginning to resemble that of his brothers. He can see why his brother has such strong hate, and the negative effect the minorities are having on their daily lives and their community. He learns this pattern of behavior from the actions his brother spoke and displayed. Three years have past and finally Derek returns from prison; a different man than when he was admitted. We are not sure why this has happened, but he is pushing himself away from his role he once occupied at home. Danny was without a role-model and being a frustrated teenager, who needs to fit into some type of social group, chose the DOC. Derek is shocked of Danny’s involvement with the DOC when he returns home because he can see Danny going down his same wrong path.Being in prison actually rehabilitated Derek because he was exposed to the horrible things which he previously believed in. He developed a real impression and understanding of people in and outside the white race. He was directly exposed to minorities and other white supremacy members. He was disgusted when he saw one of the members conversing with a Spanish man only to receive drugs and sell them back to a white man. His involvement with white supremacy was strong and this would be taking a step back for the white man. Derek slowly begins to see the truth in people and doesn’t just focus on skin color.The positive turning point for Derek is when he met a black man whom he had to work with every day. When they first met, Derek was hateful towards the friendly and persistent black man. As the black man became art of Derek’s daily routine he began to grow on Derek. Derek played basketball with him and other black men and began to distance himself from the members of the white supremacy group. The group looked at Derek as a “wannabe nigger” and they threatened him that if he wants to be one, they will treat him as one. Derek had no social group and was warned by his friend that he needs to have one to survive in the joint. Derek continued to keep to himself and was raped on an ongoing basis by the white supremacy group. This act of rape could be seen as a deviance degrading Derek’s manhood and a physical act of violence by the white supremacy group for affiliating himself with blacks. At this time Derek began to realize that every man is capable of good and evil; he could no longer believe that the white man was good while the black man was evil. Being in prison turned the tables on Derek as his friend nicely puts it “In the joint you the nigga not me.”Racism is a deviant behavior and like in the movie can lead to further deviant acts such as crime and murder. Derek learned racist behavior from his father at a young age which socialized him in that way of thinking. His racial beliefs were reinforced when his father was murdered by a black man while in the line of duty. This extreme situation combined with the worsening of his community by people of minority fueled Derek with hatred. At that time he had only seen the good in the white man and the evil in minorities. He did not have an open opinion until the tables were turned when he was in prison. People are not born racist, or biologically predisposed to murder, but rather socialized to learn these acts as appropriate.This concept can be seen in or everyday lives as well as the movie. While in prison Danny begins to buy into racism and bigotry just as Derek did. An example of this is the paper that Danny wrote about his brother before he “unlearned” his racist behavior:”I’d never seen anyone die before. The sound of that kid’s head splitting open in the curb went right through me. It stayed in my dreams for months, until slowly it changed it to something I couldn’t recognize. The scary thing is it doesn’t bother me anymore. For a long time I thought that night was proof that Derek was right…”Danny strongly believed that Derek’s actions were justified and he chose not to testify against his brother. Derek came back from prison a changed man and convinced his brother that good and evil do not have a skin color. Derek had to explain to Danny all that which happened in the three years in prison. After realizing what he learned was wrong the Danny eventual comes to terms with racism as well condemning it. He explains it all in a few words “Hate is baggage.”