Groupthink In American History X

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American History X was one of the most controversial movies of its time, displaying countless racist, sexist, homosexual, and violent events. The movie studies the development of two neo-Nazi brothers Derek and Danny Vinyard and how they were influenced by those around them to develop bigotry views. Alongside the racial stereotypes, there are several stereotypes based upon sexuality. Another influential factor throughout the course of American History X was the role of groupthink and deviance among the different social groups. Clearly, these aspects made a huge difference on the course and outcome of the movie. Race and sexuality play possibly the biggest roles in American History X. Almost every character based action in the movie is racially…show more content…
Groupthink discourages individual creativity and ideas and instead forms decisions based upon the group as a whole. This kind of thinking can often lead to cults or gang related groups that prey upon easily manipulated minds such as those of young adults. Many of the recruits for the neo-Nazi group in the movie are insecure teens who need a way to vent their anger and feel a sense of belonging. This led to the prominent existence of groupthink because all the students believe that the non-white population of America is the source of all problems. Groupthink was also displayed in the way the members dressed (including tattoos) and cut their hair. The neo-Nazi gang all cut their hair down to their scalp which is why they were given the name skinhead. Neo-Nazis also dressed very similarly with bikers’ jackets, swastikas, and Hitler memorabilia plastered across their clothing and skin in the form of tattoos. Whenever groupthink is established, there is always going to be deviance within the group since no everyone can think identically. The main character Derek is an example of both groupthink and deviance. He starts out as a prominent member of the neo-Nazi group, holding rallies to destroy local places run by non-whites. However, after his time spent in jail, he comes to realize that “hate is a baggage” and is pointless. Derek then becomes a changed man and defies the groups’ rules and beliefs. He comes to realize that he has been teaching his brother the wrong values all his life and nothing he has done has made him feel better. Additionally, Derek also becomes deviant while he is in prison and his rebellion causes him to be raped. This is the most extreme form of punishment for deviance displayed in the movie. American History X does a fantastic job of showing how even the most extreme offenders can have a change of heart and attempt to pursue the good in life. It is clear from the movie

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