Hotel Rwanda vs. Erin Brockovich Essay Example
Hotel Rwanda vs. Erin Brockovich Essay Example

Hotel Rwanda vs. Erin Brockovich Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1304 words)
  • Published: January 5, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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The films Hotel Rwanda and Erin Brockovich address distinct instances of deviant behavior, yet they reveal comparable perils in society. Despite their divergent approaches, both movies ultimately endanger numerous individuals. This analysis investigates the ways in which these deviant choices affect their societies and scrutinizes the motives behind these unacceptable actions. Hotel Rwanda is a captivating film that vividly portrays a significant amount of deviance and social issues. It highlights the Hutu tribe's conviction that the Tutsi should not possess positions of authority, leading extremist Hutus to attempt to seize control.

The social issue in Africa involves the Hutu people who lack resources and opportunities to peacefully gain control over their part of the continent. These individuals face challenges including a lack of education, absence of a legitimate democracy, and limited acce


ss to basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter. Consequently, they believe that seizing power is necessary for improving their lives. Unfortunately, their only solution has been to carry out a mass genocide against the Tutsi tribes. This horrific event can be examined through Robert Merton’s Anomie theory or strain theory. Merton's theory suggests that when individuals cannot achieve culturally defined goals (like the Hutu's aspiration for a better life) through lawful means (such as participating in an election), crime and deviance increase within society. This disparity between goals and means is referred to as structural inequality or anomie (Tepperman 2010).

The Hutu people in Africa faced a persistent structural gap, preventing their upward mobility in politics, which led to anger, worthlessness, and a sense of being forgotten. Regrettably, they resorted to committing heartless murders of Tutsi individuals they

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encountered, driven by a growing mob mentality that became increasingly violent in larger groups. Experiencing discrimination and exclusion from positions of power in the economy, the Hutu expressed their displeasure and endured difficult lives. This fostered resentment within a hostile community that faced an enduring structural gap, prompting the Hutu to retaliate and spearhead a brutal rebellion. Initially engaging in lower levels of deviant behavior like harassment and assaults, the level of violence and deviance quickly escalated, creating a significant social problem. The Hutu easily embraced such erratic behavior due to their perceived grievances on multiple fronts.

Robert Merton's four strains encompass all four aspects that lead to the Hutu's justification for committing these heinous crimes, as he states that these strains are most likely to result in crime.

1) Seen as unfair.

2) Being perceived as having a considerable level of significance.

The third point is that they are linked to low social control.

The fourth step involves creating pressure or providing incentives to encourage engagement in criminal coping.

The Hutu resorted to violence as a last option due to various issues they faced. These included unfair favoritism by Belgian colonists, who left the Tutsi in charge when they abandoned Africa; negative impacts on the Hutu's quality of life under Tutsi rule; limited social control, policing, and government intervention in Africa; and the potential for economic control by the Hutu, which would lead to better lives for themselves and their families - a strong motivation for engaging in criminal activities.

The Hutu faced significant pressure during the conflict, leading them to rebel and commit atrocities. The film

highlights how children were easily influenced to join the fight against the Tutsi, which contributed to deviant behavior and social issues. According to Hirschi's theory, a child's bond with their parents plays a crucial role in determining their participation in delinquent activities. Weak bonds increase the chances of engaging in such acts (Tepperman 2010).

According to Hirschi’s theory, the influence of parents and their level of involvement greatly impacts children during important stages of development. In this film, many children observed their fathers committing violent acts and were encouraged to protect their families. Growing up in a troubled social environment where children interact with violent parents significantly affects their own behavior. The story demonstrates how these children form a sense of attachment and shared identity through violent family values and practices such as murder and violence. This style of parenting is referred to as Authoritarian parenting, characterized by high control but lacking empathy or concern for the safety of their children, such as when sending them off to war.

Psychologist Jean Piaget suggests that the beliefs instilled in children, which they internalize as their 'responsibility' or 'fate', shape their self-development. The environment they are raised in, characterized by violence, discrimination, and social unrest caused by hostile parents or role models, further reinforces negative traits and influences their attitude and behavior. This can be understood through the social bond theory. In the film, Social Structural Theories are depicted at a macro-sociological level to showcase how social disorganization and anomie impact individuals. Additionally, concepts such as mob mentality, attachment, parenting theories align with symbolic interactionism and micro-sociological approaches rooted in social bond theories.


the film "Erin Brockovich" and the movie "Hotel Rwanda" portray deviant behavior that leads to significant social issues. In both cases, this deviation puts many lives at risk. Although the deviant act in "Erin Brockovich" is non-violent, it has similar consequences. The criminals in this story operate within a developed nation like America, where intervention is available to prevent unjust actions against innocent individuals.

Thomas Hobbes observed in the sixteenth century that people are driven by a desire for pleasure and avoidance of pain. If not controlled, they freely exploit others (and their belongings) for their own satisfaction (Tepperman 2010). This perfectly exemplifies the actions of Pacific Gas and Electric, the antagonist corporation in the film. Despite knowing about its harmful effects on the water supply of a neighboring town, they deliberately used cheap and inadequate technology for power generation in pursuit of profit.

The use of discreet non-violent white-collar crimes, like fraud, has saved many individuals from being murdered. This situation is similar to what happens in Africa. When deviant acts go unnoticed by society, external controls must step in to deal with criminal behavior. In this particular case of white-collar crime, the protagonist had to publicly expose the fraud on a national level. As a result, government intervention occurred and prevented a town from being endangered and potential social problems.

The film depicts a significant act of deviance that corresponds with Merton's theory of anomie. However, in contrast to the Hutu rebellion method, the CEO in Erin Brockovich opts for innovation as a means to accomplish his objectives. His primary goal is obtaining a substantial amount of money. Instead of resorting

to murder, he decides to reduce expenses and contaminate the water supply of a neighboring town. This action strongly relates to Cohen and Felson's Routine Activity Theory, which posits that the regular activities of a population influence the availability of potential victims and the likelihood of criminal incidents. The theory consists of three components.

The offender's presence.

The victim's availability is an important factor.

The reason for the deviant act in this problem is strongly correlated with the absence of the guardian.

The corporations' factories and their corrupt owner coexist with the idle neighboring town, which is unaware of the companies' fraudulent toxicity reports. With no government or political intervention to stop the crime, an opportunity for deviance is created.

This passage illustrates how structural circumstances can lead to opportunities for crime and deviance according to the functionalist perspective. Similar to the situation in Hotel Rwanda, there were individuals engaging in deviant behavior, passive victims, and a lack of authority figures to enforce moral standards. These deviant individuals recognized the chance to exploit others because of the societal conditions they were in. In both cases, Merton's Anomie theory explains their willingness to engage in deviant acts in order to achieve their goals, as they did not have access to legitimate means.

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