American History X: Scapegoat Theory

  • Category: Psychology
  • Words: 313
  • Grade: 100
"American History X": Scapegoat Theory
        "American History X" is a no-holds barred look at the very real underbelly of racism. In this film, prejudice is best, represented by the "Scapegoat Theory". It states that prejudice results from tensions, fears, and underlying needs in the perceiver. In particular, prejudice and discrimination serve to reduce negative affective states and to satisfy some underlying need.
        As the story unfolds through the eyes of the viewer, Derek Vineyard finds himself transformed by the philosophy of hate as he turns into a leader of a local white-power movement. Derek's underlying need to seek retribution for his father's murder leads him to venting his anger and frustration onto a scapegoat, the black race. He joins in this group to reduce the negative feelings he has against his father's killer, who happened to be a black man. Despite his intelligence, his actions of displaced aggression leads him to committing a brutal murder against a young-black man, which brings him a prison
sentence.
        While away in prison, Danny Vineyard his younger brother who idolizes him, begins to follow in the path of Derek, by becoming a member of this group his brother once led and joining in their hate for the black race. Danny was motivated to join by the respect his brother was given from members and the knowledge he was so good at expressing. However, after returning from prison Derek no longer viewed hatred as a badge of honor, but as ignorance. He became ashamed of his past and was in a race to save Danny from making the mistakes he had made.
        A person is not born a racist, but learns prejudice from the environment and the people around them. This is not a film about white-power and skinheads, but a contemporary tragedy about a family torn apart by hate and the desire for superiority over another race.
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