The film Remember the Titans is a film written by Gregory Allen Howard, directed by Boaz Yakin, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The film was set in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971 after the Civil Rights movement to end segregation. The film is about a high school football team that struggled when their town was being forced to integrate blacks and whites into one school. The team was faced with losing their white coach along with the integration and they all wanted to quit the team. Remember the Titans is an effective social commentary because it meets the following criteria: racism, societal preconception, and social acceptance.
First issue that is seen in the movie is racism. In the beginning of the movie it is apparent that the integration of the two schools will undoubtingly effect the football players the most since in 1971 football was all that there was for the little town of Alexandria, VA. To try and make the integration seem more fair the school district hires black coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, as head coach. “Boone is initially uncomfortable with his reasons for getting the job, but he vows to be color-blind in his treatment of his players” (Berardinelli). When the two teams first come together Bill Yoast, played by Will Patton, storms into the gymnasium with all the white players interrupting Boone’s team meeting. Once interrupted Boone and Yoast get into an argument, Boone says “The best player will play, color won’t matter” Yoast’s response is “From the looks of our little situation we got us here, I think that’s about all that does” (Remember the Titans). Boone decides the best way to help the team come together despite their differences is for them to go to camp together. Once they were loading into the buses for camp Gerry Bertier, played by Ryan Hurst, takes it upon himself to tell Coach Boone to reserve certain positions for the white players. Boone’s response was “Once you step on that bus you aint got your mama no more. You got your brothers on the team and you got your daddy. You know who your daddy is, doncha?” (Remember the Titans) Boone then sees that the players have divided themselves up on the buses by race an makes all defensive players gets on one bus and offensive players get on the other bus, then off to camp they go. “The school year truly begins not with classes, but on the first day of football camp” (Luty) On the first day of camp Bertier and Julius Campbell, played by Wood Harris, get into a fight that soon has every player physically fighting each other. Boone breaks it up then lectures the team “Football is about controlling that anger, harnessing that aggression into a team effort to achieve perfection” (Remember the Titans). The movie then shows where Boone makes all the players learn personal things about different players of the opposite race.
Next, comes the battle of societal preconceptions. You see Bertier and Campbell in a conversation over the assignment that Boone has given each player. During their conversion you can tell right away that they both have their own preconceived ideas of the other. Boone tries to help his team get over all the societal preconceptions by forcing the players to spend time with the opposite race. “The idea is that the reason we don’t like other groups is because we simply don’t spend a lot of time with people who are different. So, all we need to do is hang out with those people more, and poof! Our prejudices will go away” (Goodfriend). Throughout their stay at camp they players learned to accept each other for who they are inside not what they appear to be on the outside. Which is evident when Bertier says to Campbell “I was afraid of you, Julius. I only saw what I was afraid of, and now I know I was only hating my brother.” (Remember the Titans). This helps us see that if you try hard enough you can overcome societal preconceptions, all you have to do is open your heart and mind to new things.
Finally, you get to the social acceptance part of the movie. It can be argued where the biggest turning point of the movie is. For some, “The first, and strongest, part of the movie takes place at a preseason camp, where, under Boone’s relentless drill sergeant discipline (“This is not a democracy,” he bellows. “This is a dictatorship. I am the law.”), they meld into a cohesive fighting unit” (Scott). I feel the biggest turning point in the movie is when Boone wakes the team up while at camp and makes them jog to where the battle of Gettysburg took place. When they get there Boone states “This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.” (Remember the Titans). You then see the team come together while at camp but as soon as they get back to reality the bonds that were formed are slowing being broken, which is seen when “Gary Bertier, the white team captain whose initial resistance to playing alongside blacks does not survive camp, must contend with the stubborn bigotry of his mother and his girlfriend.” (Scott). It is seen in the movie that the players show the adults of the town to be more accepting, “If they see bad, the will follow suit. This hugely important step in the process is seen in “Remember the Titans” as the parents from the community see their children befriending another race, and they are forced to face their own prejudices.” (Goodfriend). It is seen that the town has truly come to accept each other when, “Toward the end, a black player comes to visit his white teammate – at first his bitter rival, now his bosom friend—in the hospital. The nurse tries to shoo him away” (Scott). The nurse says “Only kin is allowed in here” (Remember the Titans) Then Bertier replies “Alice, are you blind? Don’t you see the family resemblance? That’s my brother” (Remember the Titans). Through these examples you can see the social acceptance taking place.
As shown above, you can see through the points made that Remember the Titans shows how racism can only destroy a community if you let it. Societal preconceptions are one of the hardest things to overcome, but if you try hard enough, you can too learn to be more like the players. Social acceptance is achievable through hard work and dedication to your own beliefs, instead of what you are taught by others. At the very end of the movie Sheryl Yoast, Played by Hayden Panettiere, says “People say it can’t work, black and white. Here, we make it work every day. We still have our disagreements, of course, but before we reach for hate, always, always, we remember the Titans” (Remember the Titans). This quote in itself deliver the message the movie is intending to make.
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