ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

Entertainment Media Analysis Report

American History X (1998), R
CAP Score: 34, CAP ID: 7.09

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

Executive Summary/Commentary

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Like we really need another movie presenting a school shooting. American History X presented this and the most foul word of the foul language 186 times, 97 uses of other three/four letter words, racial hatred, prison rape. murder, and sexual intercourse. And all in 114 minutes! That is what American History X was all about. Bad and vulgar language 149 times per hour! And just because this movie is rated R does not mean kids under 17 will not see it. One of the 15-year old school yard shooters of 1997 saw The Basketball Diaries (R, 1995) when he was 14.

Not one of the previous movies I have analyzed drowned any intelligent dialogue with as much filthy potty mouth language as this one. Because of this movie, I may swear off of analyzing R-rated movies. American History X also presented intimidation by firearms, murder by firearms -- including a school shooting -- and the swastika profusely. The swastika represents more than just Nazi Germany. There is much more to the unholy swastika. If you wish to know more about it, visit our Back to School Special from our opening screen. Besides, God does not want us to wear tattoos: Leviticus 19:28 (NIV) "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." Beatings, Nazi worship, and nauseous brutality violated almost every sense of the observer. American History X was thick with racial slurs, derogatory terms, threats of every kind and hatred. A most vile movie.

I submit that the social pressure of the big screen is more of a peer than the kid who sits next to yours in class.

FINDINGS/SCORING: American History X (1998) CAP Thermometers

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) lost maximum level points four times due to a general theme of skinhead rule, a very graphic showerroom gang rape of a prison inmate, repeated presentation of white supremacy/racial hatred in a violent manner, and vulgar/evil threats. Wanton Violence/Crime lost intermediate level points six times due to a grotesque battery of a dying man, gang beatings, family violence with physical attacks, and skinhead frenzy.

Impunity/Hate (I)(1) lost the maximum level points 189 times due to the use of the most foul word of the foul language 186 times, and repeated concentrations of non-violent racial slurs and racial hatred comments.

Sex/Homosexuality (S) lost maximum level points two times due to multiple full male nudity and repeated scenes of adults in underwear. Sex/Homosexuality lost intermediate level points six times due to sexual intercourse with partial nudity, single full male nudity, and once for kissing in school twice.

Drugs Alcohol (D) lost no points to the maximum or intermediate levels.

Offense to God (O)(2) lost maximum level points 25 times due to 23 uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive, use of the swastika throughout the movie, and multiple scenes of guided evil imagery (the swastika represents much more than just Nazi Germany - visit "Back to School Special" from our opening screen to find out). Offense to God lost no intermediate level points.

Murder/Suicide (M)(3) lost maximum level points three times due to three graphic gunfire murders. Murder/Suicide lost no intermediate points.

Additional unacceptable programming, each warranting minimum level point lost included:

  • eight uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive
  • 97 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • gang activity with and without firearms, including brutality and bully tactics
  • arrogance against fair authority
  • additional threats of death and physical harm
  • "You are a god."
  • glorification of social imbalance
  • sexual innuendo
  • vulgar jokes
  • drug dealing
  • vulgar discussion about the sex act
  • adults wearing only a towel

    In accordance with the numeric comparative baseline database of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model, American History X (1998) presented programming equivalent to R-rated material in Wanton Violence/Crime, Impunity/Hate, Sex/Homosexuality, and Offense to God. Material equivalent to PG programming was found in Murder/Suicide. The movie was equivalent to G-rated programming in Drugs/Alcohol. Thus, American History X is equivalent to 66% R-rated programming, 17% PG-rated programming, and 17% G-rated programming.

    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impunity/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name is incorporated into the Impunity/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the three/four letter word vocabulary is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication. As required of the Holy Scriptures, unless God's name is used with reverence to His glory and praise, its use is considered in vain, whether literal or euphemistic.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Presentation of attempts to commit murder or suicide, deaths by police action, and deaths by war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

    Please remember we believe that if even one of the six Investigation Area scores for a movie is equivalent to the CAP comparative baseline database scoring range for R, PG-13, or PG material, the entire movie should be regarded as so rated.  For example, if only Wanton Violence/Crime earns a score equivalent to R but all other Investigation Areas earn a score equivalent to G, THERE IS R-RATED MATERIAL IN THE MOVIE AND YOUR KIDS WILL SEE IT AND HEAR IT IF THEY WATCH THE MOVIE!

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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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