AMERICAN HISTORY American History X (1998) illustrates how segregation is aggravated by missing father figures as well as the herd mentality of the characters in the film. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the herd mentality states that people need a concept or a worldview to adopt in order to give meaning to their lives. This herding of people who choose to adopt this certain ideal or ideals in effect causes the stifling of individual thoughts or creativity because everyone chooses to think a certain way (Floyd).
This mindset that people are attracted to is not always chosen or forced but is rather seen as an obligation because of loyalties certain people have to others. Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton, starts to adopt this racist mindset that all races other than white are the downfall of society in a flashback scene where he is speaking with his father about school and his father tells him not to listen to the “nigger bullshit” of his black Social Studies teacher, Dr. Bob Sweeney played by Avery Brooks.
Derek’s obvious interest in Dr. Sweeney’s lessons fades almost immediately upon hearing these words from his father and Derek begins to agree with his father’s statements. Derek is not forced by his father to feel this way; however, he took it upon himself to feel this way because he looks up to his father. His individual thoughts are stifled because he wants to be more like his father. The racism instilled in Derek from his father is not enough to bring him to the violent lifestyle he starts on to lead, but it does teach him to stay away from black kids from an early age.
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This herd mentality to stay only with white people has been brought to another level when Derek Vinyard’s father dies. His father is shot and killed by blacks while fighting a fire in a black neighborhood. Derek immediately places the blame on black people, not just a single black person but all black people. After his father’s death, Derek joins forces with Cameron Alexander, played by Stacy Beach. Cameron is an older man who is a Neo-Nazi and he uses Derek to recruit young adults into a new gang called the Disciples of Christ (D. O.
The creation of the D. O. C. provides all the white youth of Venice Beach, California to feel a sense of belonging.
is an outlet for mastermind Cameron Alexander’s white propaganda. He wants to spread hate and violence against the minorities without being directly involved in it. So he lets the kids do the dirty work. Cameron Alexander is exploiting people’s need to belong to a group and then using that group to further his own hateful vendettas. The D.
O. C. just perpetuated the segregation of races by giving white people a herd that they could join. The D. O.
C. responds to violence with violence and to hate with hate. It worsened racial tensions in the community. In one scene of the movie, Derek challenges the black people on the basketball court to a game “for the courts.” Whichever race lost is not allowed back on the courts anymore. Derek and the white people win the game and told the “niggers to get the f ck off their courts.” The herd mentality of the members of each race just makes the segregation situation worse. This herd mentality follows Derek to prison when he has been sentenced for killing two black men trying to break into his jeep.
... s time, racism was everywhere. The white people stereotyped the black people in every negative way. They called him ... out of a certain race. For instance, black people can be mistaken to talk abnormally or behave ... and crude language, but this isn t all black people. It s bad that one person automatically make ... are racist are the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis. In the present, any acts of racism ...
As soon as Derek Vinyard entered prison he starts to associate with the Neo-Nazi’s because that is the herd he is attracted to. He is protected by the Neo-Nazi gang of white supremacists in prison as well. However, the lines between these herds became blurred when Derek saw the Neo-Nazis doing business with blacks and Mexicans. Derek does not approve of that and got angry at the Neo-Nazis for associating with minorities. This disagreement leads to the sodomy of Derek in prison by the Neo-Nazis, the people who he shares his views with and were suppose to protect him. That is one of the single most important actions in the movie that helps Derek break out of the herd mentality that he was in.
He realizes the hypocrisy in the people who were part of that group or herd. He realizes that the group is just a falsehood for feeling safe; it had no deep meaning. By becoming a Neo-Nazi, Derek is looking for something to do with his life. Derek wants his life to have some meaning. However, the Neo-Nazi cause had no meaning.
It is all a front, either for Cameron’s personal endeavors or for safety in prison. When Derek Vinyard realizes this, he starts to break down and cry. The three years of his life wastes in jail were for nothing. Derek finally realizes the “holes in this bullshit” as Dr. Sweeney states. Dr.
Sweeney means the holes in the actions of the other Neo-Nazis. They do not really believe what they pretend to believe. They just have that label because they needed it for protection and mental security. His dignity is stripped for no reason other than the fact that he is actually na ” ive enough to believe that the Neo-Nazi movement is something that can actually make his life meaningful.
Cameron tries to use Derek and make his feelings based on “us against them”, white versus black, and an overall negative approach of good versus evil. Another thing that helps the segregation of races is Derek and Danny Vinyard’s, played by Edward Furlong, missing father figure and their desire for someone to fill that void. Even though Derek’s father instills in him racist ideas, these ideas do not encourage violence towards minorities. Those ideas just encourage ignorance. However, when Derek’s father dies, the person to fill that void is Cameron Alexander. Derek is vulnerable without a father figure in his life and Cameron Alexander took him in as a son and as a prot ” eg’e.
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He gives Derek the attention he needs from an older male figure in his life. In an incident at the Vinyard household after Derek’s father’s death, Derek got angry with his mom’s Jewish boyfriend. He shouts racial obscenities against Jewish people at him and even threatens his life. Hismom’s reaction to Derek’s outburst is, “He’s just a boy without a father.” Cameron Alexander became Derek’s father figure but he uses him to create the D. O. C.
Since Derek looks up to Cameron it does not take much to influence Derek’s actions. Derek recruits other white young adults for Cameron to create an army for Cameron to spread his propaganda. The D. O. C. has nothing to do with protecting the rights of the white people.
It is Cameron’s exploitation of Derek and using it to spread hate against minorities through the misguided white youth who are seeking to feel like they belong somewhere. Cameron takes in Derek in order to herd up the white population in one group and put them against the blacks. After serving a short prison term, Derek Vinyard does realize that Cameron and the Neo-Nazi people do not really believe in what they did is wrong. Derek learns a valuable lesson in prison about the holes of the life he is living.
Derek also finds a new father figure when Cameron has abandoned him. This father figure is open-minded and wants the best for Derek. That figure is Dr. Bob Sweeney.
He comes to visit Derek in prison after Derek is raped by his own people. After all that Derek has been through, Dr. Sweeney still has faith in Derek. It is ironic that Dr.
Sweeney is the man Derek’s father was making racist remarks about when Derek was young but as Derek gets older, Dr. Sweeney is one of the few people that Derek can still trust. Dr. Sweeney is the man who helped bring Derek away from the life he was leading under Cameron. Dr. Sweeney, a black man, came to Derek’s rescue when his Neo-Nazi brethren has abandoned him.
... Derek. Devin a the oldest sister was very concerned for Danny because she knew the kind of people ... by his negativity especially his younger brother Danny. Danny sees Derek as a hero and wants to become ... story is based around the family of Derek Vineyard who Cameron decides would be the spokesperson for the ... gang is run by the master mind of Cameron Alexander who likes to poison children? s minds ...
Derek is not the only one who is affected by having no father figure in his life. Derek’s younger brother Danny ends up following in Derek’s footsteps while Derek is in jail. Cameron Alexander took Danny in as well and starts feeding him his racist propaganda. However, it is Dr.
Bob Sweeney who came to the rescue again to show Danny racism and hatred are wrong. Dr. Sweeney makes Danny write an essay about his brother’s incarceration to make up for the essay Danny wrote on Hitler. Danny writes the essay the same day his brother is released from jail and the audience finds out that Danny has changed his way of thinking from seeing his brother become good and from Dr. Sweeney’s influence.
In his essay, Danny finally realizes that “Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time.” However, it is too late for Danny because at the end of the movie Danny is brutally murdered by a black kid who he had trouble with in the beginning of the movie. After Danny gets over Cameron’s propaganda and realizes he should not hate minorities and should not reject them from his life, his life is taken from him the very next day. It is very ironic in this movie that the people who help Derek get over his Neo-Nazi philosophies in prison are both black. Guy Torry’s character, Lamont, helps Derek overcome his anger towards black people on a personal level. Lamont’s humor and silly antics help Derek see the human side of the people he was accusing of ruining American society.
Not only does Lamont help Derek to view black people as humans but he also helps Derek physically. After Derek rejects the neo-Nazis in prison he has no more protection. He was open game for the black people to beat, rape, and do whatever else they please. However, Derek is not touched at all for the remainder of his prison stay.
Derek finally realizes the day he leaves the prison that it is because of Lamont that the black people do not abuse him in prison. Derek ends up being protected by the people he hates. Also, Dr. Bob Sweeney helps Derek realize how the philosophy of the neo-Nazis is wrong and hypocritical. Dr.
Sweeney visits Derek regularly in prison and puts in a good word for him with the local law enforcement. Dr. Sweeney also provides Derek with reading material in prison, which is what helps Derek pass most of his time. Derek is saved by black people, by the people he initially swore to hate. The segregation in Venice Beach between the whites and the blacks is an easy thing to observe in this movie. However, this segregation is the cause of many different things.
... -racism, as seen in the turning point of Derek and Danny Vineyard. Although the movie has shocking scenes, it is the harsh reality ... they had changed their racist views towards blacks. The movie ends, with a powerful quote from Danny's essay, although he is dead ... a black inmate Lamont, another prisoner he works with. Lamont gives Derek helpful and friendly advice about how to behave in prison. Derek is ...
The formation of the Disciples of Christ is one of the main things that causes segregation between the blacks and the whites. The D. O. C. is used by the whites to attack minorities in large numbers so the whites could be able to get away with it. The formation of the D.
O. C and its strength is solidified by people’s need to belong to a herd. Its initial creation is the cause of Cameron Alexander causing Derek to form a gang for the white people. Derek looks up to Cameron as a father and as a result listens to what he says. The herd mentality and Derek’s lack of a father figure leads directly to the formation of the D.
O. C. which promotes even more violence and racism in the town of Venice Beach, California. The movie does an amazing job of getting its point across, which is the brutality of hate and racism. The emotions running high in the movie makes it powerful and moving and the death of Derek’s younger brother Danny Vinyard is shocking enough to bring tears to many viewers’ eyes. The movie ends with Danny’s voice reading his paper out loud and he ends his paper with a very important quote by Abraham Lincoln.
This quote shows how Danny’s, as well as Derek’s, mindset changed from the beginning of the movie to the end. When hearing this quote it leaves the viewers in awe that Danny finally started to look past his hateful ideologies but ends up dead because of the lifestyle him and his brother decided to lead. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained we must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.” Works Cited American History X.
Dir. Tony Kaye. Perf. Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Avery Brooks, and Beverly D’angelo. 1998. DVD.
New Line Home Entertainment, 2004. Floyd, Brandon. “American Nihilism Organization.” American Nihilism Organization. 24 Aug. 2004.
American History X is a story about two brothers, Danny Vineyard and the oldest brother Derek Vineyard. The movie starts off with Danny getting in ... have triggered, his hate for other races that were not white. Derek showed good leadership skills, and was easily able to round ... concept you can apply to the movie would be values. This is because Derek highly valued the white race, and thought they were ...
19 Oct. 2004.