When referring to the mechanisms of life and society, one can assume that the most trustful key for understanding the given world with all its issues and particularities is the scientific Sociology, based on research which further leads to elaborated theories. With no intention of underestimating its importance, the current paper work focuses on an alternative method of providing a complete view over social facts: movies.
Along with literature, movies represent a projection of the real world in the fictional area. By presenting an issue from an artistic point-of-view, a good movie not only provides a good understanding of an issue for the large masses of citizens, but it is also a very efficient method for drawing attention to a particular problem that the society faces. A well done movie uses symbolism in order to highlight relevant points, together with an intense feeling of emotion and manages to "catch" the viewer by raising contemporary problems.
Therefore, the current essay relies on two movies that deal with issues of belonging to a group or a community organized around differences of nationality, ethnicity and race.
The two movies are "American History X" and "Boyz N. The Hood." The order of presenting them has no relevance to the topic, therefore they are analyzed in the order in which they have been watched.
"American History X" tells the very interesting, yet dramatic story of young Derek Vinyard and his younger brother Daniel "Danny" Vinyard, from Venice Beach, Los Angeles. One must say interesting because, through the life of these two characters, the movie reflects an entire community organized on the principle of the white man being superior to his peers of different color. This conception may appear as surprising for the greatest part of the public, as the action is set in America which is, at least in theory, a model of democracy for the rest of the world, and also the equivalent of progress and modernism. It is true, on one hand, that the movie was set in 1998, but still, the image that it outlines is the one of a society that although benefits from modern laws that support liberty and equality for all its citizens, still remains closed and conservatory at the level of the individual's consciousness.
The action is presented from the perspective of the white group, of its ideas, principles and beliefs. The community is divided using the criteria of color: the white people are organized in gangs having the unique goal of destroying the minorities which are considered to be exploitative for the country. Black people, Hispanics and Asians are seen as responsible for all the problems that SUA confronts itself with. Generally, the movie remits a strong feeling of hate and racialism against these categories of citizens.
Derek Vinyard is, white, intelligent and charismatic and also, a convinced racist and anti-Semitic. His strong hate may seem, to a point, understandable: his father had been shot by a black man in one of the countless armed attacks. Though, certain sequences of the film show a powerful racist feeling that was blasted in the family by his father himself. This relates to the idea that, in most cases, racism is not based on facts, but on stereotypes and is constantly constructed, taught and maintained from early childhood.
Due to its leader qualities, Derek becomes the tool of Cameron, the true leader of all actions orientated against black people. This emphasizes how these types of extremist groups are constituted. Not all Americans with racist principles transform themselves into constant pursuers and aggressors. This requires a person with sufficient charisma and power of persuasion that can influence his followers and usually, these followers are vulnerable and innocent people, which can be easily controlled.
The tensions that characterize the relation between victims and aggressors are extremely intense. Streets are battlefields, people are untaught of cruel, victims are treated with violence and humiliated.
When Derek is imprisoned after deadly shooting two black people that would steal his car, he discovers a life in prison that would make him radically change his principles. It is there where he feels the cruelty of his own peers and also, discovers friendship and help coming from the Negro, one of those he so much hated. With this new conception of life, he returns home and desperately tries to prevent his brother from following the same path.
The most important strength of the film is that it manages to show to what extent the consequences of such an extremist actions can be destructive for the initiator of them himself. Although dramatic in the end, when Danny is killed, this appears as the inevitable answer to Derek's own acts. The movie is impressive through veracity and the strong feeling of emotion that it creates and manages to picture the American society facing this huge problem that is sociological known as inequalities by race.
Moving forward to the latter movie, "Boyz N. The Hood ," one can say that these two movies perfectly fit together, as they present opposite points-of-view. While the previously mentioned movie presents the white community, the current one focuses on the black one and masterly highlights how this is deprived by its rights.
From the police officers that arrive an hour later after the attack of a Negro house, to the dead black body that remains unpicked by authorities, every details in the movie relates to the unfair treatment that is provided for the black community.
All in all, it follows the story of a few characters, from childhood to their youth, with all the problems they face for being black. Tensions between Black and White people are also present and are best depicted through a sequence of the movie where a character calls for unity and solidarity that would help them fight their enemies' resolution to send them away.
Notions of differences are taught from childhood, children grow up with the constant feeling of resenting the other. Yet, in comparison to the former movie, where racism comes as a legacy of the family, together with an unjustified feeling of hate, in the current one, Black people's attitude towards their White peers is seen as the answer to their action, therefore perfectly legitimated.
The movie has two important educative sides. On one hand, it pictures how honest, working and intelligent people can be regardless of their color. By these, it tries to improve the image of Black people among the citizens of the U.S.A.
On the other hand, this movie can be interpreted as a call for solidarity among the black community and, particularly, a call for reducing violence. Sociologists have not managed yet to find the response to the high rate of criminality that Black people commit towards other Black ones. The answer may relate to the constant feeling of being chased or to the non-involvement of the authorities that leads to people looking for justice on their own.
Related to this, the movie presents the dramatic loss of a human, a character that is also shot in the street. His brother revenges his death by killing the aggressors and is further murdered. Unfortunately, situations like this occur in life and among groups and gangs and, by this point-of-view, the movie draws attention to a critical issue, violence and rate of criminality that implies Black people in the U.S.A.
In their book, "Citizenship and Migration: globalization and the politics of belonging," Stephen Castles and Alistair Davidson offer some interesting pieces of information regarding how particular communities appear and how they become affected by processes of social exclusion and racialism. First of all, communities appear as a response to the global migration, which leads to an increase of the population mobility. People can settle almost everywhere and, wherever…