American History X and Crash

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Both of these movies clearly have something to say about the concept of the American Dream and the way that people choose to live their lives. American History X is a much darker film that explores the many and varied ways that we are taught to hate. Stereotypes, prejudices, and racism are so much a part of everyday life that we are literally taught these things at the dinner table. Crash, on the other hand, shows a myriad of Americans trying to live their lives. Some of them are good and some are bad, but all are capable of change. What the viewer ultimately learns is that the American Dream as most of us think of it is unachievable to most, and that things are rarely what they seem. To begin with, American History X is a movie about prejudices and racism. It has been called "the visceral meditation on American bigotry" by Popular Culture magazine (Turczyn) This family at the beginning seems to be living the American Dream. They have a nice house in the suburbs, a beautiful mom, a firefighter dad, and four children. They sit down together at the dinner table to eat and talk. However, there are problems lurking. Dad is very racist as he demonstrates in his little spiel, and it is clear to the viewer that being open-minded is not a plus in this family. Dad wants his boys to think the way he does. When dad is then killed in the line of duty and by a black man, this clears the way for Derek to become recruited by the vulture named Cameron. Cameron preys on weak kids like this so that he can bring them into the white power movement. From there, the family begins to deteriorate and continues until Derek is released from prison. Their living arrangement is quite dismal. Mom is sickly. Derek has seen the light in prison so to speak and begins to turn his life around. The dinner conversation is really the pivotal place where the viewer can see the kind of intolerance that
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