Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rodney King Riots - Background

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was driving on the Foothill Freeway in Los Angeles. Rodney King was riding with two passengers. The two passengers were put in the patrol car and five L.A.P.D. officers attempted to subdue King. Under normal circumstances the officers would tackle and cuff a suspect, but King was tasered, kicked in the head, and beaten with batons, then tackled and cuffed. The officers claimed that King was under the influence of PCP at the time of his arrest, thus he was aggressive and violent.
The incident was captured on video by George Holliday from his apartment. The tape was about ten minutes long and showed King crawling on the ground during the beating with no attempt to handcuff him. A test for PCP after the arrest turned up negative.
The footage was not released to the public while the case was being presented to the court, but the footage became a focus for media attention. This footage was especially helpful as a rallying point for activists in Los Angeles and around the United States. Coverage was extensive during the two weeks following the beating. The Los Angeles Time published 43 articles about the incident, the New York Times published 17 articles, and the Chicago Tribune published 11 articles. ABC News and Primetime Live also displayed specials about the incident.
The District Attorney charged the police officers with assault and use of excessive force. Due to the media coverage the trial venue changed. The venue changed "from Los Angeles County to a newly constructed courthouse in the more predominantly white and politically conservative city of Simi Valley in neighboring Ventura County. No Simi Valley residents served on the jury, which was drawn from the nearby San Fernando Valley, a predominantly white and Hispanic area, and composed of ten whites, one Hispanic, and one Asian." The prosecutor was also black.
On April 29, 1992, after a week of jury deliberations, the officers were acquitted of assault and three of the four were acquitted of excessive force. The jury could not agree on a verdict for the fourth officer charged with using excessive force. These verdicts were based on a blurry two second of a video segment. This clip was edited out by television. During these two seconds King supposedly gets up off the ground and charges at one of the police officers. The jury couldn't be sure due to the blurriness of the video. There is debate over what occurred before the start of the video and the officers claim that they tried to restrain King before the video began recording. Others believe that the jury became desensitized to the violence of the beating after repeated viewings in slow motion. This caused the emotional impact to be lost.
After the verdict was announced there were divided reactions among the public. Media coverage displayed these divisions in the public throughout the nation. Both Mayor Tom Bradley and President Bush expressed confusion about the verdict on national television.

Following the verdict the preexisting anger with the perceived racial discrimination of the L.A.P.D., poor economic conditions, and friction between minorities finally boiled over leading to an outburst of riots. For five days all of this anger was released on the city of Los Angeles as the rest of the world sat in disbelief. Businesses were set on fire, random carjackings and beatings occurred, and there were rampant shootings against rescue workers and between shopkeepers and looters. By the time the National Guard regained control there were 53 dead, over 1,100 buildings were destroyed, 10,000 people were arrested, and nearly 1 billion dollars in damage was caused.
The Rodney King Riots were the worst riots in United States History. These riots left physical scars and emotional wounds on the city of Los Angeles as slowing growing tensions reached a breaking point. The city rebuilt itself, but the problems still exist today. - information on the beating - information on the riots
Thursday, March 31, 2011

Essential Questions - Crash

1. How does one construct an identity and what is the film's message about this construction?

Identity is constructed through self-realization; however, is often influenced by stereotypes. A person can find his/her true identity through the mistakes that he/she has and the experiences he/she has had. These cause the person to analyze personal morals and way of living life. A person can construct an identity by learning from the mistakes another person has made. Unfortunately, the influence of society can overcome the identity a person has constructed for himself/herself. The views of other people can cause a person to reanalyze his/her life and change the way a person identifies himself/herself. The stereotypes of society provide a mold for people of a certain race, gender, or class to grow up into.  This mold often causes people to identify someone from the second they see that person. When people grow up in this situation they are unable to grow beyond the ideas others have of them.

2. What cultural systems are in place in this film and how do they influence the characters? Think of race, gender, class, power.

The movie takes place in a city in which there are many cultural systems regarding race, gender, class, and power that have great influence on the lives of the characters. All of these come together to allow certain people to flourish in society, while others perish. Each cultural system favors certain people and the more favored by society a person is the more successful he/she is.

Anthony is confused and angry because he is placed in a lower position in society due to his race, class, and lack of power. He feels lost because he is unable to change any of these things and they may serve as his motivation to steal cars.

3. What is the relationship between narrative structure and thematic development?

In the movie each character has his/her own crash and they intertwine to reinforce the movie's messages. These crashes come together both physically and metaphorically. Every character interacts with the other characters and they all suffer from individual crashes. These crashes open the eyes of the characters involved to allow them to see the truth beneath the stereotypes. While watching the movie one can learn all of the lessons and gain the insight that each of the characters in the movie gains to apply to his/her own life.

4. How does the film represent blame and guilt throughout the film? What is the film's message surrounding these topics?

Blame and guilt form an amphipathic bond. This means that blame and guilt are closely related and fuel each other. Those that blame other people for their problems often feel guilty at some point later on. For example, in the movie the Persian man that owns the shop blames the Hispanic worker after his store is vandalized. As a result of this blame, he goes to the home of the Hispanic man ready to shoot him. Instead he shoots the daughter and causes himself to experience immense guilt.

Guilt fuels blame in Crash through the character of Detective Graham Waters. He feels guilty about letting his brother fall into the stereotypes of black people in LA. This lead him to blame society for the stereotypes that have been created.

It is possible that this cycle will also be demonstrated by Officer Tom Hansen. Officer Hansen feels guilty about shooting Peter Waters in the car. It is possible that in response to this event he will blame society for the stereotypes that caused him to assume that Peter Waters would have a gun.

The vicious cycle that is created by blame and guilt is seen through the character of Anthony. Anthony starts the movie by stealing cars from innocent people. He blames society for the stereotype that allows people to predict that he will harm them. After he attempts to carjack Cameron Thayer he begins to feel guilty. After an encounter with the police, Cameron Thayer tells Anthony that he is an embarrassment. Anthony realizes that he is an embarrassment and people like him help to fuel the stereotype of black people. This guilt may cause Anthony to further blame the people around him and society for the poor influence on his life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crash and the Rodney King Riots

In both Crash and the Rodney King Riots there was a clear breaking point in which tension boiled over.

The Rodney King Riots were caused when boiling tensions among minorities, poor economic conditions, and perceived racism within the L.A.P.D. overwhelmed the city after the police beating of Rodney King. On April 29, 1992, the four police men accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted. The city became extremely angered and responded with violence. Random beatings, fire, and shootings became common for a six day span of time that left mass devastation in a city. Many were dead, businesses were gone, a billion dollars in damage was created, and thousands were arrested. This series of events caused people to reconsider their actions and the way they view those of different economic and social status.

In Crash each character experienced a breaking point that forced them to reanalyze their lives and beliefs. Detective Waters experiences his breaking point in two parts. The first part is when he sees his younger brother's dead body on the side of the road. The second part is when his mother blames him for his brother's death. These two events will force the detective to reanalyze his priorities and the way he lives his life. He focuses a lot on his job and not enough on his family. The TV Director also experiences a breaking point. He and his wife get pulled over. While being unnecessarily interrogated he remained calm. His wife was molested by one of the cops and he remained calm. His wife gets extremely angry with him because he did not stand up for her. This is his breaking point and clearly influences the way that he lives his life. This is seen when he gets pulled over later after an attempted carjacking. He yells at the cops and is completely uncooperative. He threatens the cops and fights with them. This is the opposite from the calm man that the cops encountered earlier in the movie. The Persian shopkeeper experiences his breaking point after his shop is vandalized. His shop is the most important thing to him and knowing people can get to him, even in his haven, pushes him over the edge. His family lives in this shop and he is unwilling to protect them. This anger and vulnerability causes him to blame others. The first person he blames is the Hispanic worker that was in charge of replacing the locks on the door. He visits this man and is prepared to shoot him, with no regrets.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crash and The Bluest Eye

In the movie Crash and The Bluest Eye there is discrimination based on race and class.

At the end of Crash, the younger cop shoots Detective Waters' younger brother based on his appearance. When the cop picks up the brother off the side of the street he notices that the brother is black with dirty clothing with holes in it. This appearance is a stereotype that causes the cop to shoot him. This stereotype is based on the assumption that all black people are violent and those who are dressed in dirtier clothing are more willing to be violent as well. When the brother reached into his pocket the cop assumed that he was getting a gun and was ready to injure the cop. This is not the truth but it is the assumption that the cop made because of the stereotype that society had put in his mind.

In The Bluest Eye those with lighter skin are a part of a higher class and race keeps people in their current economic status. When Maureen Peel comes to Freida and Claudia's school she is of lighter skin and is automatically perceived as wealthier, prettier, and better. There is nothing that anyone can do about it because they are unable to change their skin color. While remaining their current skin color they are unable to change their economic status.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rodney King Riots and The Bluest Eye

Both of these demonstrate extreme racism.

The Rodney King Riots were caused by overwhelming racial tensions in the city of Los Angeles. Rodney King was racially discriminated against by the L.A.P.D. when four white cops assaulted him after he refused to pull over. These cops were acquitted, which caused further racial conflict. Minorities were already having problems because they did not receive equal rights or treatment. The beating of Rodney King caused the tensions to intensify to the point of rioting.

In The Bluest Eye there was racism as seen by the class structure of the community. Those with lighter skin were considered better than those with darker skin in every way. They were part of a higher class, often with more money, and more beautiful.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rodney King - Media

They said it was for the black man,
they said it was for the mexican,
and not for the white man.

But if you look at the streets it wasn't about Rodney King,
It's bout this fucked up situation and these fucked up police.
It's about coming up and staying on top
and screamin' 187 on a mother fuckin' cop.
It's not written on the paper it's on the wall.
National guard??!
Smoke from all around,