American History X is a deeply disturbing and brutally violent film about the white skinhead movement in contemporary United States culture. Not only does this film depict the most disturbing and flagrant aspects of racism, but also shows how close hate movements are to mainstream, middle-class, white Americans.
A fictional story told through they eyes of a youth who is being recruited in the white power movement, this film shows how racial hatred is part of American culture. It also shows the means to which white people will go to maintain their privilege, particularly when they feel their institutional and cultural dominance being encroached upon.
American History X is also an important film because, if examined closely, it shows the interconnection of oppressions. The culture that allows for racial hatred also enforces gender roles and requires violence to enforce all aspects of its hierarchy. The same world-view that allows for the devaluation based on skin color, requires a culture of dominance that permeates all aspects of life.
This film comes with a serious caution to the facilitator. It is profoundly violent and disturbing. There are a number of scenes that depict gruesome murders, in detail. There is a rape scene. The language is angry and hateful. The whole movie will feel like an assault on your senses. However, it is worth seeing. It is well done and meaningful. The violence is not gratuitous, but rather is used to make the viewer understand a disturbing piece of reality. As Unitarian Universalists, this film asks us to grapple with the theological concepts of hate and evil, as they are embodied in our world today. Please make sure that you provide for the pastoral resources and support necessary to deal with this kind of subject matter.
As you are watching the movie try to think about institutional racism, how are people of color treated differently? (for example prison, school, etc.)
For more information contact youth @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, July 26, 2011.
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