While visiting a relative recently, she recommended I watch the movie “American History X”. She said it offers a refreshing perspective on racism. I told her that anti-racism is code for “anti-white” and she replied that this movie is anti-everybody, whites, blacks and so on. I replied that I’d spend two hours of my time watching “American History X” if she would, in turn, watch “A Conversation About Race” with me afterwards. We had a deal.
Though my relative is intelligent, she clearly is not very adept at recognizing propaganda. “American History X” is propaganda. Though it does appear to give air time to pro-white sentiments and grievances, it does so in such a way that the vast majority of viewers would not take seriously. Movies are, by nature, visual tools. When things are said, in a movie, by rough-looking teens who sport swastika tattoos, their words do not have as much credibility as the words spoken by a civilized-looking character. This is why defense attorneys make sure their clients are dressed well in front of a judge and jury. People are not rational creatures.
Thus, when the main character, Derek, speaks to his mob about the evils of illegal immigration, his words ring true – until the very graphic depiction of their attack on an immigrant-owned store (and its employees) is shown directly afterwards. At that point, his entire speech loses its appeal. Just as the viewer is repulsed by the destruction and torture that follow, so too will he reject the views that brought about these acts. Clearly this was the intention of the producers.
Similarly, when we see a dinner conversation where Derek’s father is explaining the evils of affirmative action, the audience may sympathize with him – until he makes a general statement about “niggers”. At that point, all his valid objections to affirmative action dissolve into naught.
The movie features several graphic depictions of violence. All but one is perpetrated by whites:
1) The movie opens with some black gangbangers trying to steal Derek’s truck. He responds by shooting one of them to death and then killing the second. After this orgy of blood, the look on Derek’s face clearly shows how delighted he is with his deed. He smiles a very devilish smile for the cameras. The truck theft was simply an excuse for Derek to dispatch some niggers.
2) I have already described the graphically depicted attack on the immigrant-owned store. The implication is that this is what white pride and anti-immigrant sentiment naturally lead to.
3) While in prison, Derek learns that his white friends are not really friends at all. In fact, they have no redeeming qualities. We are treated to a disturbing depiction of Derek getting raped by other skinheads. What provoked this attack? It seems Derek had met a black inmate who was friendly and funny. We are to believe that neo-Nazis (and, by extension, all pro-whites) are oblivious to the fact that there are some nice, and funny, black people. For Derek to meet such a black man is a revelation to him. Apparently, he had lived in a cave until then.
4) In what appears to be a flashback to the original shooting scene, we are shown how Derek forces one of the gangbangers to put his teeth to the curb – and then brutally kicks his head in. Later, we hear a description of the sound that man’s head made as it was smashed into the concrete. Very graphic indeed.
5) The last graphic violent scene of the movie, and the only one committed by a black, is when Derek’s younger brother (Danny) is shot by the brother of one of the gangbangers he’d killed. In contrast to Derek’s satanic expression of joy, the black shooter bears an expression of anger and revenge. He didn’t kill for the joy of killing. No, he killed as revenge for an incident the previous day. This last shooting, though shocking since we’ve come to know and love the victim, is no more graphic than any other shooting we see on T.V. or the movies. It could have been a shooting from an old western.
Not surprisingly, the only morally sound powerful character in the movie is the school teacher (who also has two degrees). This is “Dr. Sweeney”, played by Avery Brooks. Sweeney can do no wrong. He is godlike, morally impeccable, caring, soft-spoken – and black. There were other characters who are morally upright in this movie: Derek’s mother and sister always oppose his evil ways – but they come across as victims. Derek’s mother is a chain-smoking, pitiful character who never even considered that bringing home her Jewish boyfriend might cause a scene with her neo-Nazi sons and friend. His sister is merely an incidental character whose only purpose seems to be to suffer abuse at the hands of Derek and his worthless friends.
American History X would have us believe that the only flavor of pro-white is the neo-Nazi flavor. That white skinheads are the ones mostly responsible for ransacking stores and committing prison rape. After all, blacks would never do such things.
There are a couple of worthy scenes. The basketball scene, where the white teenagers challenge the blacks and beat them honorably is a good one. One of the white teens, at some point, says something to the effect of “Why should we walk with fear in our own neighborhoods?” The school bathroom scene, where some black kids are beating up a white kid for allegedly telling on them for cheating is another good one. In that scene, Danny confronts the blacks with a look of courage and essentially drives them away. Those two scenes do inspire white pride and a wish that more whites could be more like them.
But good propaganda must have some truth mixed in. It must have something its proponents can point to and say, “See! They do show both sides of the story.” In my opinion, the good parts of American History X do not make it a good movie. Instead, they make it good propaganda.
As for A Conversation About Race, my relative enjoyed it and did find it thought-provoking.