Inequality may not seem as big an issue as it used to be, but it is still highly relevant today. Social equality topics like gay rights and equal pay for women are just some of those that have people talking in 2014. While some of these may not effect us while in college, we will most likely begin to see the full force of these problems once we’re older.
It is detrimental to our society to simply ignore these important issues because we are either unaware or they don’t seem to pertain to us at the moment. These inequalities are often discussed in the media, which can give us a good idea of how our culture and society feels towards them, so it is pivotal to pay attention.
While the film La Haine, or “Hate,” is twenty years old, it is still highly relevant. This gripping French film tells the story of three young men living in the projects outside Paris.
Following a riot, one of them, Vinz, finds a gun dropped by a police officer. While considering whether or not to use it to avenge the death of his friend, Vinz and his two companions live out a normal day of their lives. However, ‘normal’ for them is a very distant reality for many of us, especially when you imagine the events of the film and the turmoil of the area where it is set.
This film’s images and messages are very powerful. The director, Mathieu Kassovitz, used real footage and based the film on actual riots that occurred in France between 1986 and 1996. Throughout the film, there is an overwhelming tension and sense of violence. Many situations in the film are ones that people generally wouldn’t think about unless they are faced with similar situations. Social inequality is everywhere in the film, as minorities are grouped into the rundown projects while police stand on the outskirts of the area, scrutinizing the residents.
Police and residents are depicted as being extremely hostile to each other. While the police are there to contain violence, they are clearly guilty of racial profiling and think that it is acceptable to do so. They detain any person in the area who isn’t white and see them as guilty until proven innocent, while not being shy to use force when they deem necessary.
Not only do they profile the people in their own neighborhood, they do so even more if a minority manages to make it to the city, where “they’re not supposed to be.” This is not to say that all the police officers follow this practice; in fact there are a few good cops in the film. This film is not about police brutality, but it does show that the practice exists even in a modern, progressive country like France, where we might not expect it.
On the other hand, the citizens of the projects do break the law. They buy and sell drugs, as a means of gaining money or feeding their addiction. In La Haine, crime is the result of poverty and the social status that society has placed on the people of the projects. A seemingly counterproductive sight is the rioters burning their own neighborhood buildings during riots. But isn’t that detrimental to them? Listening closely reveals the answer. They are only burning government built buildings, like schools. They are hurting themselves to strike out at those who they feel are oppressing them: the police and the government.
True to its name, hate is a constant theme present throughout the film. The residents of the projects hate the police and the government for oppressing them and relegating them to a lower class, while the authorities hate these minorities because they are resistant and they are the lower class.
So, what does all of this mean? Is it possible that these issues are present in every society? It wasn’t that long ago when events similar to the film occurred in the United States. But the question is, have the problems really ever been resolved? Viewing any news source will reveal a stories dealing with some level of society not accepting another based on a preconceived notion.
Viewers, especially students, can learn from this film that social inequality is still present in today’s modern society. We can all learn from this that by ending inequality and the hate it breeds, we could help change the world for the better.