If we move on from issues of sex and violence, it could be argued that the most shocking elements in films are not the actual incidents that are portrayed but the ideas that are expressed and that underpin the events. In Romper Stomper (Wright, 1992) or American History X (Kaye, 1998), for example, it is the extreme right-wing politics and accompanying racial hatred that audiences may find most disturbing. Both films could be accused of giving a platform to fascist ideas: in Romper Stomper Russell Crowe as Hando reads directly from Hitler's Mein Kampf and in American History X Edward Norton as Derek gives a powerful 'race hate' speech almost directly to the camera. Do we as viewers have an emotional response to these sorts of scenes?
Racism and Extreme Politics
Using the pictures provided create a mood board that will chart your emotional response while you were watching American History X. Also comment on your emotional responses towards different characters, take note if it changed throughout the film and why.
Also provide answers to the following questions
American History X
How should this film be read and how would different audiences respond?
What types of audience would visit the cinema to see this film? What would be their emotional responses?
Is it likely that different audiences will respond in different ways?
Could Nazi skinhead gang members gain their own gratification from watching these films? If they could, is that shocking in itself or simply inevitable and not something that should concern the filmmakers?
Is it possible to find evidence from within the construction of these films to suggest the way in which the filmmakers ultimately wished their film to be understood?
With which characters is the audience invited to identify?
Why might censors, or government, consider cutting or banning this film? Would their concerns be to do with potential emotional responses to the film?
Are there any sections you believe could, or should, have been cut?