Produced in 2001 and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film Training Day is a crime drama film. The film was written by David Ayer, and it stars Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington. The story is about two police detectives, specializing in narcotics, who work in Los Angeles. They are followed for about 24 hours in a neighborhood that is full of gangs both East and South of Los Angeles. The film, Training Day was a box office movie that was mostly a success and mostly got appraisal that was positive. It won many awards, including the Academy during the 74th Academy Awards. In this film, Denzel Washington, the leading actor, who has been described as one who keeps getting better brings out the role of Detective Sgt. Alonzo Harris quite well.
Training day revolves around a die in the lives of two police officers, who work in the Los Angeles Police Department. The first police officer Detective Alonzo Harris is ET to evaluate the performance of his junior Jake Hoyt. Alonzo is a Los Angeles Police Department, who is decorated, especially in dealing with narcotics. The portrayal of the dark side of Los Angeles begins quite early in the film, when the two officers witness some gang members dealing in drugs right in the park. There are various topics that come out in the film, Training Day. Some of these topics include redemption, race, social classes, betrayal and corruption (Better 48).
As far as Hoyt is concerned, all the members of the police department into which he has just been recruited are dirty and corrupt. The state of the streets in Los Angeles is depicted as being in dire need of law enforcement as some of them are quite dark. The situation is so bad that many of the cops, jest like Alonzo, have to break the law in order to make a difference. Alonzo, therefore, represents those cops, who operate in a dangerous neighborhood. He is a cop, who knows his neighborhood so well that he is literally at home with the top brokers of Los Angeles. He is described by critiques as one, who is a street-smart dick.
The Dark Side of Los Angeles
The producers of Training Day were hoping to give the film a touch of authenticity and that was the reason why they decided to shoot the film in Los Angeles in the famous Imperial Courts housing project. In order to portray the dark side of Los Angele, they found a way of convincing the gangs to allow cameras to be brought to this criminal infested neighborhood. Another location where this film was shot was the Baldwin Village and in the Hoover Block. Other sections of the film were shot Palm wood Drive, which is a dead end street in Los Angeles.
In these streets, gang members could be seen on the rooftops, adding a touch of darkness to the film. The film, Training Day, even had a gang technical advisor by the name Cle Shamed Sloan, who was able to supervise the screening of real-life gangs such as, B. P. Stones , while in action. The film makers also hired two police officers to help them with the shooting. Paul Load and Michael Patterson were the technical advisors, who were from the Police Department in Francisco.
In order to understand their roles better, Hawke, Washington and the rest of the members of the crew were also allowed to interact with police officers, real life drug dealers and members of gangs who operate in Los Angeles in order to understand the characters much better. Detective Sgt. Alonzo Harris is the head of an elite Los Angeles Police Department squad that investigates narcotics. Ethan Hawke, who plays a greenhorn cop named Jake Hoyt only has a total of twenty four hours to convince Alonzo to become part of his undercover team. This film that is quite controversial has been described by some film critiques as being a metaphor for the Invasion in Iraq. Tis would, however, not be the possibility considering that the movie was produced and released in 2001 way before the invasion to Iraq. The movie focuses on the definition of goo, its resilience, especially against the background of American values. The situation is even made more complicated by the fact that Los Angeles faces serious multiethnic confusion.
Film critiques have described the movie as moralistic in an unbelievable way.
Many people consider the film as racist, but in a way that is interesting. The movie is straightforward, which the reason why many loved to watch it is. The irony is that the film, Training Day, won an Oscar during the 2002 Academy Awards'. Ethan Hawke (Jake Hoyt) acts as a rookie detective, who is on his very first assignment. He is working together with Denzel Washington (Alonzo Harris). Alonzo, unlike Hoyt, has a wealth of experience. Hoyt is the younger one, who has a little daughter and a young wife. Alonzo on the other hand is black; he is older and has been on the job longer than Hoyt.
The film portrays the dark side of Los Angeles as the two of them together with their team members have the duty of cleaning up a town that is full of drug trafficking and criminals. Alonzo is a cop, who is ironically so corrupt, that it is hard to tell whether the man actually has any effect on the drugs crimes that occur in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is portrayed as being filled with drugs to a point, where it is not easy to tell whether a corrupt police officer would help the situation or if it would make the situation worse. The film shows just how corrupt Los Angeles is, when Hoyt is forced to murder a man on his first day on the assignment.
The dark side is brought to the light, when Hoyt receives $250,000 as money for getting the job done. After this things keep getting worse, because the new cop takes to smoking marijuana. He only smokes marijuana, because Alonzo puts a gun to his head and forces him to do so. He is not aware that he is made to smoke marijuana that contains PCP. During this training day, Alonzo teaches him to use excessive force, when detaining suspects. Even the cops in Los Angeles are drawn into the deep dark side as Hoyt quickly has to bend many rules in his line of duty ranging from conducting a house search that is illegal. He does this using a search warrant, which is not real.
The cops are seen killing citizens, embezzling, and being part of all sorts of crime. In the movie, Hoyt does not resist, when he is forced to engage in illegal activities. Alonzo gives orders to his men not to kill Hoyt. Hoyt also decides that killing Alonzo would have very serious consequences and could even mean his own death. Hoyt does not report Alonzo to the authorities either, despite the fact that he is well aware of the evils that Alonzo engages in. Hoyt decides that it is better for him to walk away from this dark life and to go back to the life that he got used to.
The film also addresses issues of race and class inequity. The questions that are asked are about whether or not Hoyt is right to do the things he does and why the film portrays him as being moral, when all the other people in LA are mired in corruption and other vices. Some critiques believe that this is because Hoyt is white and belongs to the middle class. He is portrayed as being pure because he has grown up in the suburbs and not on the streets. The film also features other white people, who are presented as being the "wise men," or the people, who make the important decisions. This group of people separate themselves from the dark side of Los Angeles, preferring to sit aloof from the immorality that goes on in LA.
The dark side of Los Angeles is further depicted through the law enforcement unit that Alonzo heads. The film has, however, succeeded in showing that in Los Angeles, it is not just the people, who live in the urban ghetto and are corrupt, but also the law enforcement officers. Most of the people, who are on Alonzo's team that are expected to maintain law and order are white and they are very corrupt, engaging in all sorts of vices. The class difference between the whites and the blacks in the film is also cleary brought out in the film, Training Day. The difference between Hoyt, who is a new comer and the other members of the team, is that while the other members of the team are already tainted, he is still 'clean.'
Life in the slums is also clearly shown in the film. The children that are born in the slums do not get a chance to be innocent, because they are born in the criminal world. For these children, mostly blacks, the police is seen as people, who are ambiguous. The two scenes in the film, Training Day, that involve two black children clearly portray this fact. The first scene shows a child, who is involved in the house raid that is conducted by Alonzo in which he uses a fake search warrant. The black child is seen with a gun on his head. The second scene shows another child, Alonzo's illegitimate son, who has sex with his own mother. He is constantly not watched and is left to do whatever he pleases. Mostly he just watches TV or plays video games.
The dark side of Los Angeles is attributed to the fact the nuclear family life is virtually absent in the lives of these children. Most of the children do not live with their parents, some of them live with people, who do not care much for them. Many of the parents do not care about the whereabouts of their children. The movie reinforces the belief that the only cure for the dark side of Los Angeles would be the ethical fortitude that comes from the American suburban life. This has been a notion that has been held both internationally and within America. While the notion succeeds in asserting values, ethics, liberty and freedom as well as the respect of the rule of law, it has also been able to place the American culture above the other nations. It goes to state that America's hegemony is the ideal way of living (Training day, 12).
The movie portrays what has been depicted by the American media in general. The mass media in general has contributed significantly to the manner in which white Americans perceive black Americans. There has been an overwhelming media focus on gang violence, drug use, crime, and other types of ant-social behavior among black Americans. Television programs, movies, and commercials have all continued to create a pernicious and distorted public perception of black Americans. The history of black people in the United States dates back to many years ago. Despite their frantic struggles against oppression and discrimination, the media has continued to play a crucial role in perpetuating the discrimination and oppression. As a result, African Americans continue to be discriminated in many forms and are often treated as the second-class citizens by law enforcement agencies. Continued negative coverage by the mass media has made it difficult for white Americans and the society in general to understand the true character of the blacks. As a result, the value system in the United States has been tilted in favor of the white majority. This scenario explains why law enforcement agencies target black Americans more than any other race in their quest to enforce the law and uphold justice.
It is common to come across discriminatory and prejudicial messages and images, while watching news and movies on television. The directors plan and apportion characters in a manner to depict ethnic minority, especially blacks, as drug victims, who like engaging in criminal activities. African Americans have become a major focus of crime situation in the United States; consequently, this ethnic group has been regarded as a major source of criminal activities in the society. To further this stereotype, the victims of crime activities from the black community are rarely featured in the media. White American victims get a major share in the media spotlights. Based on this analogy, the entire society has created a false depiction of crime and a racially biased image of the crime perpetrators.
The media has fostered a negative image of the black Americans and perpetuated prejudicial beliefs in the society. This scenario has made many people to believe that African Americans, before other races, deserve to be stopped and searched, because they are fond of crime. Most studies have shown that a huge percentage of police chiefs in major cities in the United States believe that institutionalized racism in policing was not a bad exercise. Furthermore, studies reveal that institutionalized racism in the United States is majorly used against blacks, especially black males. The possibility of a black man being stopped by a traffic officer for searching is higher than man of any other race in the country.
This group of people, mainly from Africa and the Caribbean, entered the United States as the slaves. Their main occupation at that time was to provide labor for their white masters. Given their slavery status, the blacks were never treated as equal citizens. They were treated as laborers, whose main purpose was to perform different tasks for their masters. This background disadvantaged blacks in many aspects. Despite their increase in numbers, they have never been placed on the same footing as their white counterparts, because their history has set them apart from the rest of the American society. The blacks did not have the rights to own property and, as a result, most of them came from poor backgrounds and inhabited impoverished areas replete of crime and drugs (Better 52).
What the media has done for many years is associated the African Americans with their cruel past, without explaining the circumstances that led to their history. The media has continued to stigmatize African Americans by fixing them with images of criminals, drugs users, irresponsible and lazy people. This type of media coverage has further deepened the aspect of institutionalized racism in the American society. Institutionalized racism has become a perceptible and problematic characteristic of the United States media, as it seeks to escalate stereotypes and biases in our culture. It is clear that such kind of media attention makes the obvious audience believe that the facts and images portrayed are the exact representation of the victim racial group as a whole. The actions of the media strengthen the thinking process of the population and distort social realities. The stereotypes permeate the society and get entrenched within the culture in the subtle ways. Most scholars argue that racial profiling, orchestrated by negative media coverage of the African Americans, is modern-day racism. This problem is greatly intertwined with the African Americans' interaction with the media and law enforcement agencies.
The nature of the transmission model of communication, currently popular in the society, perceives communication as a course, by which information is transmitted via messages and signals for purposes of manipulation or control. This form of communication emanated from the religious ideologies that controlled the thinking of religious missionaries spreading the word through space. As a result, this form of communication model has dominated the contemporary conceptions of social interactions and culture. Therefore, when images that depict black men as criminals are flushed in the movies or on television screens, the society holds on to it religiously, hence the construct that the black Americans are more susceptible to crime than any other race. It fosters the belief that the blacks must be subjected to thorough police scrutiny compared to other racial groups.
In conclusion as an individual, I would say that, indeed, institutionalized racism among the African Americans is a construct of the American society perpetuated by the media. There is no a clearly defined manner of how human beings should go about life in the society. The media and state powers, mostly law enforcement agencies, have conspired to fix the black race in the United States. Continued association of black males with crime and drugs by the media has negatively affected many young African American males. As a result, most of them are hopeless and a significant number of them have ended up in correctional facilities.
Cultural construct, therefore, is the manner, in which people create ways of understanding the world. The media has meticulously painted African Americans in the negative manner and has continued to prove through biased coverage that blacks are crime-oriented and, therefore, they must be treated differently by police officers. The perception of the media is not necessarily true, as their assertion is not based on any scientific facts. An example of the cultural constructs is the state laws or social norms. A critical analysis reveals that human beings are unique in many aspects and, therefore, the state or cultural constructs perpetuate the deviance.