In high school for a civil rights class, I watched American History X for the first time. The film tells the story of two brothers who become involved in the Neo Nazi movement. The older brother serves three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, and when released, he changes his beliefs and tries to prevent his brother from going down the same path.
In a class full of extraverted students, American History X left us speechless. Maybe it was because of the scene where Edward Norton’s character Derek smashes a guy’s head into the pavement just for being black, or the scene where Danny, his little brother is killed. I’m not sure what everyone in my class was thinking, but for me I was in utter shock on the social impact the film had on me. It challenged my views about race even though it was promoting that discrimination is wrong and allowed me to reflect on the horrors of society as a whole.
The film struck such a note with my class so much that no one said a word as we got up and left the classroom. As a girl who loves films, I have seen my fair share of emotional movies, however American History X is in a whole different league. For me, it tops almost all of my favorite movie lists solely because of the impact it had and still has on me.
This week a story in the newspaper reminded me of American History X, so a couple days ago I sat down to watch the movie that I haven’t seen in years. Now the reason why I bring this up is not only because I think every person in the world should see this brilliant movie, but because of the impact it once again had on me. I felt like I was my 17-year-old self watching the film for the first time. Usually you only get to experience such an emotion with a film once, but American History X is different. Even now thinking about the title American History X, forces me to reflect on the current state of society. As the generation of Millennials, I feel like we have the power to change society’s innate nature to outcast minorities based on race, religion, sexuality, and gender.