Violence and movies: American History X

Essay by AmandasotCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2004

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Violence is part of our everyday lives and has direct consequences. However on the big screen, violent events may have little or unrealistic consequences. Additionally, violence on screen can be made comical and humorous. Seeing a violent act as being funny or having unrealistic consequences can lift the negativity and make it more accepted as normal behavior. Moreover, watching violent films gives viewers an outlet to everyday life. It can take them away from a boring reality into a place that is filled with thrill and excitement. Lastly, violence and conflict are often vital components of drama, and usually a story that has good drama, makes a good movie. Stuart Fiscoff, professor at the School of Natural and Social Sciences adds:

"People find violence in movies energizing, funny, and mentally athletic. It provides them with fantasies that reality cannot deliver, either in terms of observing violence or, more importantly perhaps, triumphing over criminals or bullies or taking revenge over those you don't like.

For some it's an opportunity to learn new ways to instigate aggression. And, finally, it's a way for rehearsing for life, perhaps not in the physically aggressive way, but in a way that sees violence as a metaphor for surviving successfully in the adult world."

Watching violent films is a guaranteed way to achieve instant gratification. There is something appalling and frightening about violence, but we are drawn to it just the same.

American History X is based around Derek Vinyard who is the charismatic leader of a young white supremacists group. His chest exposes a huge swastika that is tattooed across his left breast, while His head is shaved razor short to show his dedication to being a neo-Nazi. Additionally, his disgust toward other races, especially black, is evident through the film. Soon, Derek finds himself...