American Crime

American Crime

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  • Haymarket Bombing
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American Crime (TV series)

American Crime is an American anthology crime drama television series created by John Ridley that aired on ABC from March 5, 2015, to April 30, 2017. [1] [2] The first season centers on race, class, and gender politics as it follows the lives of the participants in a trial who are forever changed during the legal process. [3] [4]

  • #LiveLikeLisa (pilot only)
  • The International Famous Players Radio Pictures Corporation Entertainment Company
  • Stearns Castle Entertainment

The series follows an anthology format with each season featuring a self-contained story with new characters, often played by the same group of actors. [5] Actors featured prominently in all three seasons include Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Richard Cabral, Benito Martinez, Lili Taylor, and Regina King while Elvis Nolasco and Connor Jessup have starring roles in two seasons.

The series was renewed for a second season in May 2015. [6] The second season, which premiered on-demand on December 17, 2015, [7] [8] and premiered on ABC on January 6, 2016, [9] In May 2016, ABC renewed the series for a third season, [10] which premiered on March 12, 2017. [11] On May 11, 2017, ABC cancelled the series after three seasons. [12]

All three seasons of American Crime received critical acclaim. In 2015, the series received ten Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including for Outstanding Limited Series, Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Ridley), Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Huffman), Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Hutton), Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Cabral), and a win for Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (King). In 2016, it received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including another for Outstanding Limited Series, with Huffman and Taylor being both nominated for Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and King receiving a second win for Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.

Immigration and Prohibition

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, waves of Italians, mostly farmers, craftsmen and unskilled laborers, flocked to America in search of better economic opportunities. In New York City alone, the number of Italians soared from 20,000 to 250,000 between 1880 and 1890, and by 1910, that number had jumped to 500,000 immigrants and first-generation Italian Americans, or one-tenth of the city’s population, according to historian Thomas Repetto. The majority of these immigrants were law-abiding, but, as with most large groups of people, some were criminals who formed neighborhood gangs, often preying on those in their own communities.

Did you know? Mafia boss John Gotti (1940-2002) was dubbed the “Teflon Don” for his ability to evade prosecution. However, after mobster Sammy Gravano turned government informant and testified against Gotti, Gotti was convicted on murder and racketeering charges in 1992 and sent to prison, where he died of cancer.

During the 1920s Prohibition era, when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcoholic beverages, Italian-American gangs (along with other ethnic gangs) entered the booming bootleg liquor business and transformed themselves into sophisticated criminal enterprises, skilled at smuggling, money laundering and bribing police and other public officials. During this time, the Sicilian Mafia in Italy, which had flourished since at least the mid-19th century, was under attack from the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). Some Sicilian Mafiosi escaped to the United States, where they got involved in bootlegging and became part of the burgeoning American Mafia. The Mafia in the U.S. and Sicily were separate entities, although the Americans adopted some Italian traditions, including omerta, an all-important code of conduct and secrecy that forbid any cooperation with government authorities.


Main Edit

Recurring Edit

    as Dale Cochran as Det. Tom Lange as Shawn Chapman as Kris Jenner as Denise Brown as Faye Resnick as Lou Brown
  • Chris Conner as Jeffrey Toobin
  • Kelly Dowdle as Nicole Brown Simpson
  • Asia Monet Ray as Sydney Simpson
  • Ariel D. King as Arnelle Simpson
  • Tye White as Jason Simpson as Patti Goldman as Carl E. Douglas
  • Jessica Blair Herman as Kim Goldman
  • Jeris Poindexter as Watson Calhoun
  • Jenna Willis as Tanya Brown as Dominique Brown
  • Susan Beaubian as Amanda Cooley
  • Mary Anne McGarry as Juditha Brown as The Demon
  • P.L Brown as Easter Island
  • Christopher Boyer as Santa Claus as Jeanette Harris
  • Diana Daves as Golden Girl
  • Virginia Louise Smith as Francine Florio-Bunten
  • Noree Victoria as Tracy
  • Cassius M. Willis as Michael Knox
  • China Shavers as Shirley Simpson
  • Isabella Balbi as Kourtney Kardashian
  • Morgan Bastin as Khloe Kardashian
  • Nicolas Bechtel as Rob Kardashian
  • Veronica Galvez as Kim Kardashian
  • Valeri Ross as Eunice Simpson
  • Michael Graham as Deputy OJ
  • Rio Hackford as Pat McKenna
  • Jun Hee Lee as Dennis Fung
  • Ehsan Shahidi as Justin Simpson
  • Hudson West as Travis Clark
  • Caleb Foote as Eli
  • David Bickford as Michael Baden
  • Angela Elayne Gibbs as Barbara Cochran
  • Stephanie McVay as Linda
  • Paul Kim Jr. as Henry Lee
  • Frances Gray as Beatrice Wilson
  • Millette Pauley as Brenda Moran
  • Finn Sweeney as Trevor Clark as Alan Dershowitz as himself
  • Jake Koeppl as Ron Goldman as Linell Shapiro as Kato Kaelin as Barry Scheck as Dominick Dunne as Det. Phillip Vannatter as Det. Mark Fuhrman as Dennis Schatzman as Fred Goldman as Al Cowlings

Guest Edit

    as Laura McKinny
  • Angie Patterson as Paula Barbieri
  • Kwame Patterson as Michael Darden as Jill Shively
  • Duane Shepard Sr. as Mr. Darden as Allan Park as Howard Weitzman

Archive footage/audio Edit

In 1982, while working as assistant DA, Cochran is pulled over and almost arrested in front of his children by a racist police officer for no reason, barely avoiding custody when the officer realizes who he is, an event that inspires Cochran to return to private practice.

On the last day of proceedings, Simpson declines to take the stand and instead makes a brief statement, maintaining his innocence and expressing his yearning for the trial to end and to return to his family. Following only four hours of deliberation, the jury delivers a "not guilty" verdict, prompting both rejoice and shock across the country. Simpson returns to civilian life only to enter a society that perceives him as a different person than he was before the trial some, primarily his family and Cowlings, welcome him home with open arms, but most of his old friends have severed all ties with him, he is ostracised by his predominantly-white neighbors who view him as a murderer who got away with his crime, and he has been banned from all of his favorite establishments. During his celebration party, after reading out a note declaring his intent to find Ron and Nicole's killer, Simpson sees Kardashian walk out on him. The series ends with a saddened and lonely Simpson going into his backyard where he gazes at a life-size statue of himself in his prime, realizing that while he has avoided prison, he has paid a much larger price for his freedom.

Development Edit

On October 7, 2014, it was announced that FX had ordered a 10-episode season of American Crime Story, developed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, and executive produced by Alexander and Karaszewski, as well as Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Murphy also directed the pilot episode. Other executive producers are Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson. [13] Co-executive producers are Anthony Hemingway and D. V. DeVincentis. All 10 episodes were expected to be written by Alexander and Karaszewski. [1] [14] The series was previously in development at Fox but since moved to the company's sibling cable network FX. Murphy and others wanted to create an unbiased account of the trial by doing “certain takes guilty, certain takes innocent” according to Cuba Gooding Jr so that they would have a “plethora of emotions to play with”. [15]

Casting Edit

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson were the first to be cast as Simpson and Marcia Clark, respectively. [16] Subsequently, David Schwimmer was cast as Robert Kardashian. [17] In January 2015, it was reported that John Travolta had joined the cast as Robert Shapiro he would also serve as producer. [18] In February 2015, Courtney B. Vance joined the series as Johnnie Cochran. [19] In March 2015, it was announced that Connie Britton would co-star as Faye Resnick. [20] April 2015 saw the casting of Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, [21] Jordana Brewster as Denise Brown, [22] and Kenneth Choi as Judge Lance Ito. [23] In May 2015, it was confirmed Selma Blair would be portraying Kris Kardashian Jenner. [24] In July 2015, it was announced Nathan Lane had joined the cast as F. Lee Bailey. [25]

Filming Edit

In October 2015, FX released its first promotional trailer for The People v. O. J. Simpson, showing an Akita dog whining, walking from its residence onto a sidewalk to bark, then walking back to its residence, leaving behind bloody paw prints. [27] Later that month another teaser was released, wherein the first actual footage of Travolta as Shapiro was shown. In the teaser, Shapiro is about to ask Simpson (whose face is unseen) if he is responsible for the murder of Simpson's ex-wife. In the next short teaser that was released, Simpson (again unseen) is taking a lie detector test.

In November, two new teasers were released. The first shows Simpson writing his attempted suicide letter, while a voice-over by Gooding, Jr. narrates. The second shows the police chasing Simpson's white Ford Bronco, while dozens of fans cheer for him. [28]

The first full trailer was released in December, along with a poster for the season. The trailer included Simpson sitting in the childhood bedroom of Kim Kardashian and contemplating suicide while Robert Kardashian tries to stop him. [29]

Reviews Edit

The People v. O.J. Simpson received acclaim from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the season an approval rating of 97%, based on 89 reviews, with an average rating of 8.74/10. The site's critical consensus read, "The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story brings top-shelf writing, directing, and acting to bear on a still-topical story while shedding further light on the facts—and provoking passionate responses along the way." [30] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 90 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." [31]

Many critics singled out many cast members for the performances, particularly Paulson and Vance. [32] [33] [34] Dan Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter praised the performances of Paulson and Vance, writing: "As Clark's discomfort grows, Paulson's collection of tics seem more and more human, [. ] Vance's Cochran is sometimes hilarious, but he has a dynamic range such that he's occasionally introspective and always intelligent as well." [33] Brian Lowry of Variety praised the casting of the smaller roles, particularly Connie Britton as Faye Resnick and Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey. [35]

Travolta and Gooding's respective portrayals of Shapiro and Simpson were met with mixed reviews by critics. Brian Lowry of Variety called Travolta "awful" in the role, adding: "Yes, Shapiro spoke in stiff, measured tones, but the actor's overly mannered line readings turn the attorney into a buffoon, in sharp contrast to the more nuanced portrayals around him." [35] Nicole Jones of Vanity Fair called his performance "campy and calculated." [36] Dan Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter also criticized his performance, calling it "a mesmerizingly bad performance from the eyebrows down." He also wrote that "His unnecessary accent varies by episode, and Travolta's laser intensity feels arch and almost kabuki at times, turning Shapiro into a terrifying character from the next American Horror Story installment, rather than a part of this ensemble." [33]

Maureen Ryan of Vanity Fair, conversely, became more impressed with Travolta as the season progressed: "I started in the realm of puzzled disbelief, arrived at amusement, and ultimately traveled to a place of sincere appreciation. You simply can't take your eyes off Travolta, and that is a form of enchantment." [37] Elisabeth Garber-Paul of Rolling Stone also called it "arguably [Travolta's] best performance since Tarantino brought him back from the dead." [38] Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote that Travolta's was the show's "broadest performance." [39]

Dave Schilling of The Guardian panned Gooding's performance, writing: "his whiny, gravely voice sounds absolutely nothing like the real O. J. Simpson's deep, commanding tones." [40] Michael Starr of New York Post also was highly critical of Gooding's performance, saying that he "portrays Simpson as a hollow, sad-sack cipher who speaks in a high-pitched whine and sleepwalks in a fog he never shakes after being arrested for the brutal double murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. He's a forgettable, annoying presence in what should be a showcase role for Gooding—who, to be fair, is reciting lines written for him, so he can only do so much with the material." [41]

On the other hand, Joe McGovern was more positive on Gooding's performance, writing that his casting "takes a risk and pulls it off." [42] Elisabeth Garber-Paul of Rolling Stone described his performance as "an unnervingly believable take on a potential psychopath with teetering sanity." [38] Nick Venable of Cinema Blend also opined that Gooding's turn as Simpson "could indeed get him on a shortlist of Emmy nominees." [43]

In spite of the mixed reviews for their performances, Gooding and Travolta received Emmy nominations. Travolta was also nominated as one of the producers of the show in the Outstanding Limited Series category, which he ultimately won. Gooding's nomination was criticized by some reviewers. [44]

Reaction from individuals involved Edit

Mark Fuhrman, who is portrayed by Steven Pasquale, refused to watch the series and called his portrayal untruthful. In an interview with New York Post, he said, "The last 20 years, I have watched the facts dismissed by the media, journalists and the public simply because it does not fit within the politically correct narrative. At this late date, FX is attempting to establish a historical artifact with this series without reaching out to any prosecution sources. In a time when Americans read less and less and investigative journalism is on vacation, it is sad that this movie will be the historical word on this infamous trial. After all, it was 'based on a true story.'" [45]

Marcia Clark praised the series and called Sarah Paulson's portrayal of her "phenomenal." [46] During an interview on The Wendy Williams Show, Clark admitted that she watched the series with friends "to keep me from jumping off the balcony", and that she was emotionally unable to watch the series' recreation of Fuhrman's testimony. Clark also said her sons were only able to watch the first episode. [47] Clark went to the Emmys with Sarah Paulson, who won that night for her performance. [48]

The families of Brown and Goldman expressed anger at the show. Nicole Brown's sister, Tanya Brown, lashed out at the cast members for what she saw as a lack of consultation with the families. [49] Ron Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, had numerous criticisms of the series even though they were portrayed sympathetically. [50] He felt that there was not enough material about Ron, who is only depicted on the show as a corpse even though the Goldmans on the show mentioned his modeling career and his work on children with cerebral palsy. He expressed concern that the generations of people who were too young to understand the events at the time would consider everything to be accurate. Goldman's family also criticized the series for not depicting the murders, as they believe that Goldman died trying to save Brown from her attacker and that he was the man who eyewitnesses heard shouting that night. [50] Goldman's sister, Kim, criticized the series for sympathetic portrayals of Simpson and Kardashian (despite Kardashian in real life admitting to having had actual doubts about Simpson's innocence and eventually severing his ties with him). [51]


High school student Danny Vinyard antagonizes his Jewish history teacher Murray by choosing to write a civil rights essay on Mein Kampf. African-American principal and outreach worker Dr. Bob Sweeney tells Danny that he will study history through current events or be expelled, calling their class American History X. Danny's first assignment is a paper on his older brother Derek, a past student of Sweeney's and former neo-Nazi leader released from prison that day. In the school bathroom, Danny finds three African-American students bullying a white student he disrespects the leader by blowing cigarette smoke in his face. Meanwhile, Dr. Sweeney meets with police officers being briefed on Derek's release.

Years earlier, Danny and Derek's father, a fireman, was shot and killed by African-American drug dealers while putting out a fire at their home. Immediately after his death, Derek erupts in a racist tirade in a televised interview. High-profile racist Cameron Alexander becomes Derek's mentor and they form their own violent white supremacist gang called the Disciples of Christ (D.O.C.) in Venice Beach. A skilled basketball player, Derek is dragged into a game against several Crips, winning control of the local courts. Derek organizes an attack on a supermarket employing illegal Mexican immigrants.

Derek's mother Doris invites Murray, her boyfriend, for dinner where an argument about Rodney King and the 1992 Los Angeles riots occurs. Derek assaults his sister Davina, and Doris tells Derek to leave home. That night, the same group of Crips that Derek had beaten in the basketball game earlier attempt to steal his truck. Derek shoots and kills one of them and curb stomps another. He is sentenced to three years in the California Institution for Men for voluntary manslaughter.

In prison, Derek joins the Aryan Brotherhood and befriends an African-American inmate named Lamont. Derek becomes disillusioned by prison gang politics he believes in the ideology, but disapproves of his gang's dealings with non-white gangs and believes they only use the philosophy of white supremacy out of convenience. He abandons the Aryan Brotherhood, who beat and rape him in the shower. Derek is visited in the hospital wing by Sweeney, with whom he pleads for help to get out of prison. Sweeney warns that Danny has become involved with the D.O.C. Derek ignores the Aryan Brotherhood, and Lamont warns that he may be targeted by African-American gangs. An attack never comes, and Derek spends the remainder of his sentence alone. When he is released, Derek thanks Lamont, whom he realizes intervened on his behalf.

Returning home, Derek finds Danny emulating him, sporting a D.O.C. tattoo and becoming a skinhead. Derek tries to persuade him to leave the gang, but Danny feels betrayed. Derek's best friend Seth, also a D.O.C. member, frequently disrespects Derek's mother and sister, while grooming Danny for the gang Seth and Danny are closely controlled by Cameron. At a neo-Nazi party, Derek confronts Cameron for his manipulative behavior. When Cameron gloats that Danny has come under his influence and will prefer him over Derek, Derek assaults him Seth and the others, including Derek's ex-girlfriend Stacey, turn against Derek. Seth holds Derek at gunpoint, but Derek disarms him and flees.

Afterwards, Derek tells Danny about his experience in prison, which seems to prompt a change in Danny. The pair return home and remove hateful posters from their shared bedroom. The next morning, Danny completes his paper, reflecting on his reasons for adopting white supremacist values, and their flaws. He says that although Derek's racist views may seem to have arisen from anger over his father's death, Danny believes that his brother's views came much earlier he remembers one instance when his father went on a rant against affirmative action and referred to Dr. Sweeney's teachings as "nigger bullshit", and his death misdirected Derek's anger into racism.

Derek walks Danny to school, stopping at a diner for breakfast. Sweeney and a police officer inform Derek that Seth and Cameron are in an intensive care unit. Derek denies having any knowledge or involvement and reluctantly agrees to inspect the people he denounced. At school, Danny is shot dead by an African-American student from the previous day's incident. Derek runs to the school and cradles Danny's body, blaming himself for influencing Danny's views. In a voiceover, Danny reads the final lines of his paper for Dr. Sweeney, quoting the final stanza of Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address.

    as Derek Vinyard as Danny Vinyard as Doris Vinyard as Davina Vinyard as Seth Ryan as Stacey as Dr. Bob Sweeney as Murray as Cameron Alexander as Dennis Vinyard as Lamont as Rasmussen
  • Antonio David Lyons as Lawrence as Chris as Jason as Daryl Dawson as McMahon

Development Edit

Screenwriter David McKenna wrote the screenplay for American History X and sold the rights to New Line Cinema when he was 26. [3] The inspiration for the story came from the punk-rock scene of McKenna's childhood, where he often witnessed violent behavior. "I saw a lot of bigotry growing up, and it made me think about writing something about the world of hate-mongers. The point I tried to make in the script is that a person is not born a racist. It is learned through [the] environment and the people that surround you. The question that intrigued me is: why do people hate and how does one go about changing that? My premise was that hate starts in the family". [4] In order to make the characters as realistic as possible, McKenna interviewed and observed the behavior of skinheads during the writing process. He said "I had seen documentaries that just didn't ring true to me, and I wanted to write an accurate portrayal of how good kids from good families can get so terribly lost". [4]

Producer John Morrissey, who read the script three years prior, was impressed by the script's intense characters and dialogue. Michael De Luca, then-production president of New Line Cinema, said "I was intrigued by its intensity, conviction and brutal honesty. There was a brilliant character study woven into the screenplay, and I knew we had something special if we did it correctly". [4] In 1996, the producers first approached Dennis Hopper to direct the film. [5] Hopper turned down the offer and Tony Kaye was then approached to direct. Kaye, who had been De Luca's preferred choice from the beginning, accepted and made his directorial debut in a feature film on American History X. He took the contract to a synagogue, "I signed it in front of the rabbi. I thought it would make it good", Kaye said. [6] After the film was released, De Luca stated "It's everything I had hoped for. The performances are explosive and frightening, and the film dramatically demonstrates both the subtle and overt roots of racism while also showing the possibility for redemption". [4]

Casting Edit

Joaquin Phoenix was offered the role of Derek Vinyard but he refused the part. [7] After holding casting calls, Kaye was unable to find a suitable actor for the lead role, but casting director Valerie McCaffrey, suggested Edward Norton. [8] Kaye initially objected, feeling that Norton lacked the "weight or presence", but he eventually conceded. [9] [10] According to executive producer Steve Tisch, Norton's passion for the project was "contagious", and he even agreed to a pay cut of more than $500,000 from his usual $1 million fee, to be cast in the lead. [5] [11] McCaffrey also cast Edward Furlong for the role of Danny Vinyard. [8] To prepare for the role, Norton increased his calorie intake and spent hours in the gym to gain 25-pounds (11 kg) of muscle. [12] [13]

Filming Edit

Principal photography took place in Los Angeles and Venice Beach, lasting for several months and finishing in May 1997. [5] [14] Kaye served as cinematographer and camera operator, and would often silently walk around the set, scouting for camera angles or visuals. [5] During filming, Kaye established a casual environment for the cast and crew. He welcomed visitors on set, including singer Courtney Love, Norton's girlfriend at the time, and British historian John Richardson. [5] Kaye would arrive for work in a Lincoln Town Car with a chauffeur, and a license plate that read "JEWISH". He carried four cell phones and a fax machine, and during the Passover holidays, Kaye had boxes of matzo delivered to the set. [5] He also discovered at the time a newsletter published by a British political group, the National Front, which said he was a prominent Jew who supposedly controlled Britain's media. [5]

Both Furlong and Ethan Suplee, found taking on their roles with hateful views to be uncomfortable. Furlong said "It's pretty intense, having to say this incredibly hateful stuff". [5] The actors had "white power" tattoos painted on their arms, which Suplee forgot to remove one day after filming, and was confronted by a man in a convenience store. [5] Norton recalls "Doing that film created the strangest distortion of perception on me . the degree to which that film and the magic of camera and art and black and white photography . made a lot of people think that I was a larger and tougher person than I am". [13] The flashback scenes were edited to be in black-and-white, whereas the present-day scenes were edited to be in color.

Music Edit

Kaye hired British composer Anne Dudley to score the film, and wanted the music to be "big and elegiac". [15] She employed a full orchestra and a boys' choir, and decided against using hip-hop sounds. She said, "The neo-Nazi faction is personified in the music by a boys choir – what could be a more Aryan sound? . A calming string orchestra instead provides a much more expressive and timeless palette". [16]

Kaye's original cut of the finished film had a run time of 95 minutes, which was delivered on time and within budget. [6] [17] Although it generated a positive response from test screenings, New Line Cinema insisted on further edits to the film. [5] Kaye was mortified, saying "I'm fully aware that I'm a first-time director, but I need the same autonomy and respect that Stanley Kubrick gets". [6] Soon afterwards, Norton was involved with editing alongside Kaye, which was a difficult experience for the pair. At one point, Kaye punched a wall which resulted in stitches to his hand. [5] [17]

In June 1998, the film studio test-screened a second cut of the film which included changes made by Norton. The studio tried to persuade Kaye to release Norton's cut, but he objected. [5] Although the differences between the two cuts are disputed, Kaye objected to an additional 18 minutes of footage, and they disagreed with the length of certain scenes such as a family argument, Norton's anti-immigration speech, and a flashback where Norton's father is criticizing a teacher. [5] [6] Subsequently, the studio compromised and gave Kaye an extra eight weeks to edit and submit a new cut of the film. [6]

During this period, Kaye took a number of combative actions, spending $100,000 on advertisements in the Hollywood press and condemning the behavior of Norton and the studio. [17] American History X was due to premiere at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival, however, Kaye demanded that organizer Piers Handling withdraw the film. [10] On July 28, 1998, after the eight week deadline, Kaye had nothing new to show and the studio announced that it would release Norton's cut. Kaye attempted to remove his name from the film credits, applying for various pseudonyms, including "Humpty Dumpty", a request that the Directors Guild of America (DGA) refused. Kaye subsequently filed a $200 million lawsuit against DGA and New Line Cinema, although the case was dismissed in 2000. [6] [10] [18] Kaye disowned the film, describing the released version, which was 24 minutes longer than his own cut, as a "total abuse of creativity" and "crammed with shots of everyone crying in each other's arms". [5] [19] Kaye's behavior caused Hollywood to view him as unemployable, and he did not watch the film until June 2007. [6] He later admitted that "My ego got in the way. That was entirely my fault. [. ] Whenever I can, I take the opportunity to apologize". [20] He also did not direct another film until 2006's Lake of Fire. [21]

Home media Edit

The film was released by New Line Home Entertainment on DVD on April 6, 1999 and on VHS on August 24 of the same year. [22] [23] The film was later released on Blu-ray on April 7, 2009, including seven minutes of deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer. [24]

Box office Edit

American History X premiered in Los Angeles on October 28, 1998 and on the same week in New York. It received a wider release in the United States on October 30. [25] The film grossed $156,076 in 17 theaters during its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $6,719,864 from 513 theaters in the United States, for a worldwide total of $23,875,127. [26]

Critical response Edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 83% based on 86 reviews, with an average rating of 7.31/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "American History X doesn't contend with its subject matter as fully as it could, but Edward Norton's performance gives this hard-hitting drama crucial weight." [27] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted score of 62 out of 100 based on 32 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [28] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A" on scale of A to F. [29]

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, gave American History X four out of four stars, describing it as "a shockingly powerful screed against racism that also manages to be so well performed and directed that it is entertaining as well", adding it was "also effective at demonstrating how hate is taught from one generation to another". He said Norton was an "immediate front-runner" for an Academy Award. [30] Todd McCarthy, writing for Variety, gave the film a positive review stating "This jolting, superbly acted film will draw serious-minded upscale viewers interested in cutting-edge fare". He particularly praised Norton's performance, saying "His Derek mesmerizes even as he repels, and the actor fully exposes the human being behind the tough poses and attitudinizing". [18] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote "Though its story elements are all too easily reduced to a simple outline, American History X has enough fiery acting and provocative bombast to make its impact felt. For one thing, its willingness to take on ugly political realities gives it a substantial raison d'être. For another, it has been directed with a mixture of handsome photo-realism and visceral punch". [31]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, stating that it was "always interesting and sometimes compelling, and it contains more actual provocative thought than any American film on race since Do the Right Thing (1989)". However, he was critical of the underdeveloped areas, stating "the movie never convincingly charts Derek's path to race hatred" and noting that "in trying to resolve the events of four years in one day, it leaves its shortcuts showing". However, Ebert concluded "This is a good and powerful film. If I am dissatisfied, it is because it contains the promise of being more than it is". [32] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called the film "riveting", and praised the narrative structure despite "thinness of the script". [33]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle expressed disappointment in the film. LaSalle felt that while the film succeeded in portraying Derek's descent into neo-Nazism, it failed to portray his renouncement of his past beliefs, "We had to watch him think his way in. We should see him think his way out". LaSalle also noted that "In some places the dialogue is surprisingly stilted. Far worse, the ending is a misfire". However, he complimented Norton's performance. [34] Stephen Hunter, writing for The Washington Post, was highly critical of the film and gave it a negative review, calling it "an old melodramatic formula hidden under pretentious TV-commercial-slick photography". [35] Michael O’Sullivan wrote "There are moments when Anne Dudley's string-laden score overpowers the stark simplicity of the film's message and other times when the moral of brotherly love is hammered a bit heavily", but conceded "the blunt and brutal American History X is ultimately only as imperfect as we ourselves are". [36]

Accolades Edit

Norton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Derek Vinyard, but lost to Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful. Norton's loss was included on Empire's list of "22 Incredibly Shocking Oscars Injustices". [37]

Award Category Recipients Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Actor Edward Norton Nominated [38]
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Actor Edward Norton Nominated [39]
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing: Music Score in a Feature Film Richard Ford Nominated [40]
Golden Satellite Awards Best Original Screenplay David McKenna Nominated [41]
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Edward Norton Won
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Drama Beverly D'Angelo Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Actor Edward Norton Nominated [42]
Political Film Society Awards Peace American History X Nominated [43]
Saturn Awards Best Actor Edward Norton Nominated [44]
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Actor Edward Norton Won [45]
Taormina International Film Festival Best Actor Edward Norton Won [46]
Youth in Film Awards Best Supporting Young Actor in a Feature Film Edward Furlong Nominated [47]

Legacy Edit

In 1999, Amnesty International USA used American History X for an educational campaign, screening the film in colleges and in nationwide events for raising awareness on human rights. [4] [48] Zara Toussaint, of Amnesty International in France, organized screenings in her country followed by debates. "The reactions [to the film] were varied. Some people thought that this was only an extreme case, that this kind of group was very marginal and that there could be no equivalent in France", she said. [49] In response to the French screening, Sébastien Homer of L'Humanité wrote, "Police violence, the Rodney King affair, unsanitary prisons, ill-treatment, rejection of asylum seekers, the United States has still not assimilated what human rights, freedom, equality meant". [49] In September 1999, Empire magazine ranked the film 311th in a list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. [50] In 2008, Norton's performance was ranked by Total Film as the 72nd greatest film performance of all time. [51] Although director Kaye did not watch the film until 2007, he has acknowledged that it has become "quite a little classic in its own befuddled way". [6] In 2012, he said that he was "very proud of what we all achieved". [52]

For the 20th anniversary of the film, Christopher Hooton writing for The Independent opined that the film "feels more essential now that it ever has". [17] Clayton Schuster of Vice drew comparisons between the film and real life atrocities the murders of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church in 2015, a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and a year later, a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. He argues that these violence acts are no different to the hate represented in the film, adding, "White supremacy has existed for centuries. It's lurked on the fringes of American power since the birth of this nation". He added "there is at least one notable difference . The movie portrays skinheads as visually different . They're suited up in boots with red laces, heads gleaming from a fresh shave, and tatted with Nazi insignia and racist slogans. White supremacists today have largely adopted a policy of fitting into society rather than standing out". [53] Writing for Esquire magazine in 2018, Justin Kirkland stated that he believed that "Perhaps the reason that American History X still feels so relevant two decades after its release is because we haven't done enough for it not to be . I'm afraid we're going to be writing about American History X forever. I'm afraid of what will happen if we don't". [54]

Early American Crime

[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers.

Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family Search website (now in the hands of University College London) and has also contributed information to UCL’s growing database on plantation owners. He says, “I am now retired, hence the time I have on my hands. I am not an academic, nor a historian.”]

At the end of May 1773, London merchant Duncan Campbell wrote to merchants Somervell & Noble and their sometime partner Hugh Lennox to advise that he had consigned particular freight on board their brig Hanover Planter: ninety three convicts sentenced in England to transportation overseas. The voyage was heading for Jamaica to collect sugars and mahogany, but now it would first call at Baltimore, Maryland to unload its freight for Mathew Ridley, Campbell’s Baltimore agent, who was instructed to “take away the convicts as expeditiously as possible” to leave the owners and Captain McCulloch a free hand. The whole affair was a sudden opportunity that had offered, sandwiched as it was between regular departures of Campbell’s own ships. The Thornton had left London with a similar cargo only four weeks earlier, and the Tayloe was due to sail with another batch of convicts in July. From letters written before each voyage, the mechanics of Campbell’s transportation business can be teased out.

Campbell’s first outlay for the “people” on the Hanover Planter was thirty shillings per head as freight, with £139.10 shillings being the total sum credited to the Somervell & Noble account on his books. As a private convict contractor, the rate he demanded from the various sentencing courts for transportation was £5 per head, subject to a contract and to bonds being given to him. He was paid when copy of the court order for each convict, together with a bill of loading, could be certified. The difference between the £465 he would have been paid by the authorities for this shipment and the amount he credited to Somerville & Noble equates to seventy percent. If freight was his only cost here, the profit on it would have been immense, but he had also provisioned the vessel with water and victuals for the voyage. His own ships habitually stopped briefly at Gravesend, Kent, on their way out to sea down the River Thames. Here, slop seller James Base supplied new slop clothing in order to dress convicts on arrival in their new guise as “servants.” Even though there are no letters to confirm that Hanover Planter stopped at Gravesend on this occasion, it is more likely than not that it did.

Campbell’s usual outlay on freight, provisioning, and new clothing may have left him with little change from the £5 per head he charged for transport, but the real profit was made if presentable, healthy servants could be produced on arrival, a point which local newspaper notices of sale were keen to state, if only to conform to local laws.

Convicts to Maryland: Sales

In July 1767, the ship Thornton, owned by London merchants “Stewart & Campbell,” lay in the Ferry Branch of the Patapsco River at Baltimore. On board were one hundred and fifty two convicts sentenced in England to transportation overseas and now ready to be sold as “seven years servants.” The ship’s master, Christopher Reed, and its surgeon, John Campbell, had testified to the Naval Officer for the port of Annapolis that the convicts were free from any “dangerous distempers.” The presence of a surgeon during the voyage signified the value of a cargo by which the ship’s owners could profit handsomely. Since a head bounty for transportation, paid by the government authorities at the time, usually covered costs of freight, victualling, and perhaps new clothing, the money generated by the sale of convicts in America were clear profit. An average on-ship sale price on arrival of, say, £12 each, would gain Stewart & Campbell upwards of £1,800, while the return trip would add charges for freight on tobacco and commission on its sale in London to overall earnings. But if there was money to be made by the ship’s owners, there was also profit in store for local enterprise.

A sale on board the Thornton was advertised in the Maryland Gazette by one Alexander Stewart, who also assured prospective buyers that “proper boats well manned” would be on hand to ferry them from and to the shore. It is unclear whether Stewart was acting as a commission agent for the consigners, or whether he was an independent middle man who had already bought the whole shipment and had the opportunity to sell as many as possible on board before finding buyers for the remainder around the countryside. Four years later, Alexander Stewart—a namesake from Staunton, Virginia—had given bonds for the purchase of an entire cargo of convicts from Thomas Hodge, the Stewart & Campbell agent in Virginia. Coincidentally, the number of convicts on this occasion was the same. A surviving account book by Alexander Stewart details the sale of eighty four of these people who were hawked around seven counties in northern Virginia, which realized a total of £1,865 over the course of three months. While prices for this batch of forty-seven men, twenty one women and sixteen boys ranged from only £5 for “a woman” to £30 for “a cooper’s boy,” the average per head was just over £22.4. If this average is applied to the remaining sixty three of the whole lot (four had died and one ran away since landing), Stewart would have realized a total figure of some £3,200. A large profit margin was thus available to dealers in America prepared to take a chance, “on the road” costs for a dwindling number taken on country trails notwithstanding.

After Duncan Campbell took on the business alone following John Stewart’s death in 1772, four ships were making annual voyages by 1775. At the end of that year, both individuals and dealers owed Campbell at least £10,000 for convict purchases over the previous three years.

Convict transportation: Duncan Campbell Letters, A Selection

To Evan Nepean [Under Secretary of State for Home Affairs, 1782-1791]

It cost me some time to find out a paper which would enable me to answer your letter effectually & which I have this moment laid my hand on, which caused my delay in answering yours sooner. It happens by a calculation I made for the information of the House of Commons some years since that upon an Average of Seven Years viz. from 1769 to 1775 both inclusive I transported 547 convicts Annually from London, Middlesex,Bucks. & the four countiesof the Home Circuit & that 117 of those transports were women. I always looked upon the numberfrom theother partsof the kingdom to be equal to what was transported by me. With Great Regard

Bucks is the county of Buckinghamshire. There were six Assize Court Circuits in England and four in Wales. The Home Circuit usually comprised the counties of Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

At the time of writing, Evan Nepean was involved in the preparation of ships and people for the first fleet taking convicts to Australia it left four months later.

To James Base [Slop seller at Gravesend]

Underneath I send you a list of sundry slops which I desire you will have ready by Thursday 20 th Inst. by which time my ship the Salt Spring, Capt. Ogilvy will be at Gravesend.

24 Stript [striped] Cotton Waistcoats

You may have a few more Shifts & Petticoats ready in case they should be wanted.

Most convicts were embarked at Blackwall, on the east side of the Isle of Dogs, from where Campbell’s ships moved downriver towards the sea, stopping briefly at Gravesend to collect new slop clothing, and where any prisoners from the gaol at Maidstone, Kent, would also be taken aboard. This order to James Base was for the very last convict shipment by Campbell to the Chesapeake. Salt Spring arrived in early October with one hundred and twenty people.

To Mr John Mason, Sandwich [Clerk of the Peace]

This day I received your favour of yesterday’s date. I have a ship which will be ready to sail middle of next week and by her I send the convicts now in Maidstone gaol under sentence of transportation. I think the surest way would be for you to send the two people you mention there about the 14 or 15 current and put them under the care of the keeper who will have regular notice from me when to bring them and his own prisoners to Gravesend. The terms I take them upon is £5 each, and if you are at any loss in forming the necessary Bonds and Contracts, I beg leave to recommend your applying to Mr Jerome Knap who is the Clerk to Assizes of the Home Circuit. I am…

The ship on this occasion was the Justitia. Nine days after this letter, Campbell wrote the Keeper of Maidstone gaol to bring the prisoners up to Gravesend. He was particular to add the postscript, “You will not forget to bring with you the Orders of Court.”

Early American mass murder changes common perceptions of crime

In one of the most famous crimes of post-Revolution America, Barnett Davenport commits a mass murder in rural Connecticut. Caleb Mallory, his wife, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren were killed in their home by their boarder, Davenport.

Davenport, born in 1760, enlisted in the American army as a teenager and had served at Valley Forge and Fort Ticonderoga. In the waning days of the war with the British, he came to live in the Mallory household. Today, Davenport’s crime might be ascribed to some type of post-war stress syndrome, but at the time it was the source of a different sociological significance.

On February 3, apparently unprovoked, Davenport beat Caleb Mallory to death. He then beat Mallory’s seven-year-old grandchild with a rifle and killed his daughter-in-law. Davenport looted the home before setting it on fire, killing two others.

His shocking confession was the basis of much soul-searching for the fledgling nation’s press. Many books were written about the crime, and the perception of murderers began to change in America. Until then, crime was most often seen as the result of common sinners losing their way. But Davenport’s crime and its portrayal to the public caused people to perceive criminals as evil and alien to the rest of society. To some degree, this view has persisted through the years.

Dennis Lynn Rader: The BTK Strangler

From 1974 through 1991, the Wichita, Kansas area was gripped by a string of murders that were attributed to a fiend known as the BTK Strangler. The acronym stands for "Blind, Torture, Kill." The crimes went unsolved until 2005.

After his arrest, Dennis Lynn Rader confessed to killing 10 people over the course of 30 years. He had notoriously toyed with authorities by leaving letters and sending packages to local news outlets. His last correspondence in 2004 led to his arrest. Even though Rader was not apprehended until 2005, he committed his last murder prior to 1994—when Kansas enacted the death penalty.

Rader pled guilty to all 10 murders and was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences in prison.

The Atlanta shootings that killed eight people, six of them Asian women, took place amid an upsurge in anti-Asian violence during the pandemic. Authorities say the suspect, a 21-year-old white man, has confessed to the attacks and blames a sex addiction for his actions. They have not yet charged him with hate crimes, and legal experts say such a case may be difficult to establish.

But for Courtney Sato, a postdoctoral fellow in The Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, the general rise in hostility that serves as the tragedy’s backdrop is part of the nation’s long history of brutal bigotry against Asian Americans.

“The important thing to remember is that this is really not an exceptional moment by any means,” said Sato. “But it’s really part of a much longer genealogy of anti-Asian violence that reaches as far back as the 19th century.”

Sato pointed to the Chinese massacre of 1871, when a mob in Los Angeles’ Chinatown attacked and murdered 19 Chinese residents, including a 15-year-old boy, a reflection of the growing anti-Asian sentiment that came to its climax with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The act banned the immigration of Chinese laborers, much as the Page Exclusion Act of 1875, the nation’s first restrictive immigration law, had prohibited the entry of Chinese women.

Sato said the Page Exclusion Act is a precursor to the dehumanizing narratives and tropes that render Asian woman as objects of sexual fetishization and unworthy of being part of the national consciousness.

“In the 1875 Act, we see the ways in which race and gender are beginning to be entangled and codified in the law, and how Asian women were deemed to be bringing in sexual deviancy,” said Sato. “That far back, we can see how racism and sexism were being conflated.”

Japanese American detainees in front of poster with internment orders in 1942.

Photo by Dorthea Lange/Records of War Relocation Authority, Record Group 210 National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD

In modern American history, Asian Americans have been regularly scapegoated during periods of national duress. World War II saw the forced internment of about 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast — an estimated 62 percent of whom were U.S. citizens — in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the Vietnam War, refugees from Southeast Asia faced routine discrimination and hate, including attacks by Ku Klux Klan members on shrimpers in Texas. And in 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, was beaten to death by two Detroit autoworkers who thought he was Japanese. The killing took place during a recession that was partly blamed on the rise of the Japanese auto industry.

In a letter to the Harvard community, President Larry Bacow condemned the Atlanta shootings and stressed that the University stands against anti-Asian racism and all kinds of hate and bigotry.

“For the past year, Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders have been blamed for the pandemic — slander born of xenophobia and ignorance,” wrote Bacow. “Harvard must stand as a bulwark against hatred and bigotry. We welcome and embrace individuals from every background because it makes us a better community, a stronger community. An attack on any group of us is an attack on all of us — and on everything we represent as an institution.

“To Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in our community: We stand together with you today and every day going forward,” Bacow wrote.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose mother is a South Asian immigrant, also condemned the attacks. “Racism is real in America, and it has always been,” said Harris before meeting with community leaders and the families of the victims in Atlanta. “Xenophobia is real in America and always has been. Sexism, too.”

Between March 2020 and February 2021, Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative supporting Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities led by several Asian American advocacy groups and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University, reported nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S.

Asian Americans have been physically attacked, verbally harassed, spat upon, and subjected to racial slurs. In February, an 84-yeard old Thai man died after he was shoved to the ground in Oakland, California’s Chinatown. Since the start of the pandemic, Asian Americans have become the target of xenophobic attacks, much like Muslims were blamed and scapegoated after the 9/11 attacks.

In a survey from the Pew Research Center, three in 10 Asian Americans reported having been subjected to racist slurs or jokes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study found that former President Donald Trump’s description of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” led to a rise in anti-Asian hate online. Trump also used the racist term “Kung Flu” at a youth rally in Arizona.

Last spring, Jason Beckfield (pictured) and Vivian Shaw launched a project to study the pandemic’s impact on AAPI communities.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard file photo

Last March, Vivian Shaw, a College Fellow in the Department of Sociology, and Jason Beckfield, professor of sociology, launched the AAPI COVID-19 Project to examine the pandemic’s impact on the AAPI communities. UNESCO is now a partner in the research project. The project’s latest report, based on interviews conducted between June and October of 2020, found that Asian Americans are dealing with multiple forms of risk, including the threat of anti-Asian violence, in their daily lives. Some Asian American grocery-store owners reported being conflicted about forcing customers to wear face masks because they were afraid of violent reactions, despite their fear of exposure to the virus. The pandemic has also exacerbated social inequities as some Asian Americans — many of them immigrants — work in the underground economy, can’t access unemployment benefits, lack health insurance, and may be subjected to police harassment.

“This pandemic has affected the most vulnerable of the vulnerable,” said Shaw, the lead researcher for the project. “When we talk about anti-Asian racism, it’s not within a vacuum. It’s within the context of these broader structures: race, gender, immigration status, socio-economic condition. All of that impacts people.”

Beckfield said that while the project’s goal is to study the pandemic’s effects on the Asian American community at large, it also looks to elevate their voices and find recommendations to fight anti-Asian racism and all xenophobia.

“We have to recognize that anti-racism is not just the burden or the project of the people who are being targeted by those in power,” said Beckfield. “It ought to be the project of people who are in power too.”

On March 18, after the Atlanta killings, the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, along with other Harvard affinity groups, conducted a vigil and started a fundraiser to support Asian American advocacy groups in Boston and Atlanta, and two nationwide organizations.

Sun-Jung Yum ’23 and Racheal Lama ’23, co-presidents of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, said the Atlanta killings have shaken the community, but that they have found strength in joining forces and working together.

“It’s taking a toll on our Asian and Asian American peers in a way that people don’t realize,” said Lama. “But it’s amazing seeing how this younger generation is coming together and standing up for their parents and their older family members.”

Yum hopes that the Harvard community seizes the opportunity to continue the conversation about anti-Asian racism and not let it slip away. “It’s really important that not only do we donate now, but that we also keep on talking about this,” said Yum. “This is a great opportunity for us to not let it slide this time. I really hope that the Harvard community really continues to push advocacy and activism in this area.”

For Sato, the expert in Asian American Studies who is a postdoctoral fellow in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, it’s a critical moment for Americans to learn about the history of anti-Asian violence in the country and realize how it’s connected to the mistreatment of other ethnic minorities.

“Once again, this is really not an exceptional case,” said Sato, “but it’s deeply linked to the broader conversation we have been having in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a very much connected history, and we need to really think about how this violence is not only impacting the Asian American community, but also Blacks, Indigenous, Latinx and other vulnerable communities.”

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In the series premiere, the assassination of Gianni Versace is spotlighted.

Andrew Cunanan arrives in Miami to stalk Gianni Versace.

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Minneapolis architect David Madson is forced to go on the run with Andrew Cunanan.

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Watch the video: A Day In The Life At AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOL (June 2022).


  1. Edward

    the good question

  2. Paolo

    Sorry for interfering, there is a proposal to take a different path.

  3. Xavier

    It can not be!

  4. Afif

    IN! Hooligans are divorced, they've got a mess of spam here)))

  5. Samoel

    And why is this the only way? I think why not clarify this review.

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