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Sterotyping In The Movie Gran Torino

2739 words - 11 pages

Stereotyping, racial slurs, and labeling and norms are seen and used on a daily basis and can be observed in virtually any aspect of life, from race to religion. These aspects are used repeatedly throughout the popular movie “Gran Torino.” Clint Eastwood plays the raunchy character Walt Kowalski, a Korean War Veteran, whose memories from the war continue to haunt him. His values, and beliefs lead him to pass judgment upon others that he encounters. He doesn’t seem to get along with anyone in his decaying Detroit neighborhood but an unlikely bond with his Hmong neighbors lead him to redemption, coming face-to-face with the same catastrophic bias’s consuming the community gang members that have consumed him.

In the beginning of the movie Walt is attending his wife Dorothy’s funeral. He finds himself bombarded by the young Father, Janovich, who informs Walt that he is there to fulfill Dorothy’s wish, which entails that her husband attend confession. Walt’s responds by insulting and mocking the Father by expressing, “I never really cared for church and I only went because of her.” Then he goes on to further insult him by saying, “I wouldn’t confess to a boy just out of his seminary.” This statement provides the viewer with labeling, there are also obvious cultural differences in this scene as well, which include, age, religion and identity that shadow both the Father and Walt’s realization of each other. Their cultures are very different which presents difficult conversation. Communication between people is the most effective when the other person that we are talking with, suit’s the identity we think is the most crucial at the moment. Distinctly Walt does not think that Father Janovich is plausible because of his age and his religious culture of being Catholic, so in turn the Father’s commitment to Dorothy means nothing to Walt. When interacting with Walt the Father is able to maintain his composure and be less critical of Walt’s offensive behavior because of the Father’s religious background, he knows that Walt doesn’t see things as he does, but he finds himself in a bind, knowing that Walt has denied his deceased wife’s last wish.

The power of language reflects many cultures and influences the way that people think. Though It is not always defined by race and culture. The influence of an individual’s own generation, society, family history and values affect language. Even if people speak the same language there can be vast differences in the way that language use and communication style is presented. An individual can jump to the assumption that Walt’s use of stereotyping, racial slurs, and prejudice is a direct result of his military career, his partaking in the Korean War, his generation and his work environment at the Ford car plant. His use of language used to insult anyone who is not from the same cultural background as himself presents a wedge within his...

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