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American History X -Thomas Campbell

American History X is a very strong film that shows conflicting racism in America. The film uses racist symbols, and acts to perpetuate the racism in the film. Many critics deemed the film as racist, despite the good intentions of showing Derek’s change during the film. Black stereotypes are reinforced in the film. This is obvious as the hero of the film is Derek, a white neo-Nazi racist. Finley emphasizes this by calling American History X racist thanks to the use of a “white hero?. This film intentionally reveals the insidious ways in which racism creeps into popular culture. Slowly throughout the movie you could see how the death of Derek and Danny’s father led Derek especially to Cameron’s neo-Nazi group, eventually becoming the leader of the harmful and destructive hatred towards other races. However in the end I do not believe that Derek would return to the group, even after the death of Danny. The film also intentionally shows how change can be brought about even if you have very strong beliefs about something. Derek spent three years in jail, slowly changing over time, understanding that any race can be good or bad. For Derek to change took very powerful actions. While the other neo-Nazi men in prison raped and bashed Derek in prison, the use of Derek’s black workmate in prison was just as effective to change Derek. Derek had so much hatred for Blacks, and was stubborn to get along with his black workmate. Change in Derek began after the conversation about “sheets reminding him of women and sex?. Beck explains “Although the [hero] image is the one offered for the audience’s approval, the former [villainous] many well have the greater impact on the audience… what they condemn in words is made attractive visually on the screen?. Derek’s speech before the grocery store raid was very powerful and made attractive visually on the screen thanks to the use of powerful close up shots of the villainous leader, and black and white camera shots. Its use of words is the most powerful hatred I have heard in a film, and the lighting lead the audience to believe something powerful, and shocking is about to occur.