Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vortex of violence

Bob Sweeney: There was a moment... when I used to blame everything and everyone... for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me, that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn't get no answers 'cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.
Derek Vinyard: Like what?
Bob Sweeney: Has anything you've done made your life better?

Today concludes a week filled with irony in actions that merged history with present day. An 88-year-old white supremacist (allegedly shot and) killed an African-American guard at the entrance of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC two days before what would have been Anne Frank's 80th birthday. The play "Anne and Emmitt" - an imagined dialogue between Anne Frank and Emmitt Till - was to open at the museum the same evening of the shooting, but of course was postponed.
Whether coincidence or deliberately planned, FX network ran "American History X" several times this weekend. If you haven't seen the movie, find it, buy it, rent it - but be prepared to be shocked. Breaking all taboos, the movie lays racism, supremacy and hatred on the line and adds on heavy violence and language.
The message is strong - if only it could be required for all high school students. Then again, maybe it takes a certain level of intelligence to understand the movie's message - an intelligence that von Brunn lacks.
The main character's younger brother writes a paper, concluding with a quote from Abraham Lincoln:
Danny Vinyard: So I guess this is where I tell you what I learned - my conclusion, right? Well, my conclusion is: Hate is baggage. Life's too short to be pissed off all the time. It's just not worth it. Derek says it's always good to end a paper with a quote.
He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you'd like. 'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.'

A turning point in the film, Derek Vineyard (Edward Norton) symbolically sheds his negativity, with flashbacks of himself and his younger brother at the beach. The swastika remains, perhaps as a scar of his internal battle that led to his hatred.

1 comment:

  1. While channel surfing last year, I came across this film. I was immediately mesmerized by the images and the characters. It was so raw that it was beyond real.

    It's a cinematic gem.