A Psychological Film Analysis of "Remember the Titans"
Film Analysis – Remember the Titans
This paper will analyze Remember the Titans through a social-psychological perspective using principles that are depicted in the film. Social-psychological perspectives consist of the behaviors and events that occur in real life and the reactions and adaptations that ensue as a result. Remember the Titans is not only capable of entertaining the masses, but it is also capable of providing detailed portrayals of social behavior in one’s everyday life. This paper will go on to analyze Remember the Titans through the social-psychological principles of racism, the realistic conflict theory, and conformity.
While analyzing Remember the Titans, the three social-psychological principles show their differences, yet all of them are interconnected. Racism is the extreme belief that races have distinct characteristics and hereditary factors, and, in addition, certain races are more superior to others. The realistic conflict theory proposes that conflicts between two different groups will erupt as the groups compete over the same limited resources. Conformity is being in compliance with certain prevailing social standards, attitudes, and practices, and, through this, stems another social factor; discrimination.
Remember the Titans is a movie that takes place in Alexandria, VA, where the integration of civil rights laws is just beginning. Along with the laws comes outrage from the white families of Alexandria; especially after the implementation of a law that combined the white school and the black school into one. There is a coaching change on the football team that comes along with the school change; a new African American coach, Coach Boones, is given the head coach job at the new school instead of the Hall of Fame coach, Coach Yoast, that is currently there. There is much indignation about this seemingly unfair change that takes place.
The coaches take both the black and white players to a summer camp for the football team and they are met with turmoil from the start. The coaches set high standards of respect and value for the teammates of each other. The players are forced to cooperate, or suffer harder drills and more grueling practices. While at the camp, they learn, through time and perseverance, to overcome their differences and see beyond their color and to actually become a team. Two of the main characters, Gerry and Julius, are leaders in this effort. Upon returning from camp, this bond that the team has forged is tested time and time again by the school and the community of Alexandria. The two coaches, after overcoming their differences, help the football team to better itself through their coaching and role modeling. They carry on together as a team, players and coaches, and they eventually win the State Championship, even through a great tragedy.
Racism is a prime influence in this film. It is a recurring theme and it has shown to be a difficult, but not impossible, thing to overcome. Through the white players and families eyes, the racism is toward an intrusion of black people on what had always traditionally been theirs to control. They first lose their own school, and then, their beloved Hall of Fame football coach is demoted and replaced by a new black coach. At first they fight it, which is shown, quite obviously, when the brick is thrown through one of Coach Boones’ windows. The white parents’ racism is shown thoroughly when they fight the bus transportation to school and white students racism is shown when they fight during school because they believe that they are more superior to the blacks.
Another view of racism is through the black players eyes. At first, they keep to themselves and only care about themselves, specifically Julius. At camp, Gerry calls Julius out on this and from that point it starts a friendship that continues to grow through the story. Also, the black players have to move schools too, so they aren’t the only ones being thrust into a new environment that is full of hostility. The team shows how the factor of racism can be overcome by overlooking each other’s differences and excepting each other’s faults. Julius says during half time of the State Championship game that none of the players are perfect, but the team is perfect. He says that as a team, perfection is there and that’s how they should play.
The realistic conflict theory is most evident near the beginning of Remember the Titans, when the white players are worrying about their starting positions and playing time. These starting positions are the limited resources that the black and white players have to fight over. At first, some of the white players don’t block for a black player, just to make the black player look bad. It was a way for them to help secure a starting spot for a white player. It caused conflicts between the players, and Gerry and Julius had to try to straighten things out. They set the tone by competing with respect for the other players on the field.
The black players also had to deal with losing starting positions. The team is looked on as a white team with black players intruding on it, because of the racism shown in the movie, but in reality it can be looked at the other way around. The black players had starting spots at their old school and they entirely intended on keeping their spots. It would have been made much more difficult if they had continued to play for themselves, instead of playing as a team. The realistic conflict theory is confirmed when the players step on the field and compete with each other. Although later in the movie, the competitions are turned, instead of for starting spots, into making the individuals better and, thus, making the team better as a whole.
Conformity is evident in so many ways in Remember the Titans. First there is the white community and the black community. Next, are the white players and the black players. Then, even the white coaches and the black coaches show conformity amongst each other. All of the white players are racist and they conform together at the beginning of the movie. The same can be said of the black players and how they tend to stick together with each other. In the end, the players all conform to form one team that is perfect. The players find the right attitudes to conform into the team. Attitudes and actions all help with conformity. The team showed conformity specifically when they released their new warm-up. They all decided and conformed together to warm-up with the dancing and chanting and it stuck with them. This shows that, at first, conformity can cause problems by helping with discrimination or segregation, but in the end, conformity can bring a community together under one purpose.
Remember the Titans shows multiple aspects of social behavior through the social-psychological principles of racism, the realistic conflict theory, and conformity. Social behavior, though varying at the start of the movie, changes dramatically through different process of the social-psychological principles and turns out for the better.