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Gran Torino: Communication, Identity and History - Essay Example

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This car became the object of a gang’s initiation for a new recruit. This car also became the main reason that Kowalski’s life became entwined with that of his neighbour the Vang Lors, Hmong immigrants from Vietnam. (1) Ethnocentrism in Gran Torino While watching Gran Torino, there are many instances that ethnocentrism comes to mind. Ethnocentrism, however, should be carefully understood for what it was rooted from: a sense of self-pride (Sumner, 1906) and may not exactly be prejudice against another race, color, or nationality (Andersen and Taylor, 2006). This is where the character of Walt Kowalski, a Polish American, played by actor Clint Eastwood enters the consciousness. A Korean war veteran and a retired Ford factory worker in Detroit Michigan, the film opens with Kowalski recently widowed. His personality is gruff and rough, but elderly just the same. In a neighbourhood slowly being crept by Hmong Vietnamese or immigrant-refugees, one can imagine the situation the old man must be going through as he kept on with his life, alone but a pet labrador retriever. Ethnocentrism is revealed in the unwillingness of Kowalski to mingle and become associated with his neighbors. However, this stance was soon revealed as natural on Kowalski’s part as he also refused to acknowledge whatever help, suggestion, or cooperation that is offered his way, by his two estranged sons, and even a young priest whom his late wife had trusted. The film also highlighted ethnocentrism by featuring the Hmong teen gang in the neighbourhood as main antagonists of the story. While this kind of gang has become prevalent across the United States of America in varying nature, color, ethnicity, and themes, they represent a minority that creates their own way of acceptance no matter how negative the standard they have set may be. (2) Histories and Identity Formation The histories of Vietnam refugees and white European American are depicted in the film Gran Torino with emphasis on identity of the Hmong Vietnamese beyond what is popularly depicted by the media such as the Hmong gang. Beyond the teen gangs are closely knit families with their own cultures and traditions that may be as much similar or even better than what Walt Kowalski had expected. The Vang Lor family which resides beside the house of Kowalski are peace-loving and after Kowalski appeared to have saved their nerdy son Thao from the gang, Kowalski earned their respect without intending to. The histories of the two family, albeit different nationalities are intertwined in the film in a global and domestic context. The Hmong are allies of the US troops in Vietnam against the Vietnam communist guerrillas and they migrated to the U.S. because of the difficult military conflict struggles they experience back home (Schein, 2008). This meant that peoples of different origins and cultures maybe thrown together against their will or without being intentional as changes in global and local histories take effect (Martin and Nakayama, 2003). As minorities, the Hmong so much like other minority groups that migrated to the United States, felt the need to solidify themselves, such as the Hmong gang in the movie. They need to have their arms as protection even if this was unlawful. The gang also pressured non-members to join even if they were not willing, in order to strengthen their presence as well as ...Show more


Gran Torino: Communication, Identity and History The film Gran Torino (Schenk, 2008) is an urban story that took place in Detroit Michigan although it could have been anywhere where Vietnamese neighborhoods mingle with working white American. It depicted a retired man who was fresh from being widowed who was stubborn about not leaving his home despite his age ripe for retirement or nursing homes…
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Gran Torino: Communication, Identity and History essay example
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