Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Reversing the roles

The most interesting element of “Training Day”, in my opinion, was the reversal of racial prejudices. In “Heat” and “Beverly Hills Cops” and the literature we read, the main theme was that it was the African American who felt out of place, who was the “outsider”, the one who felt belittled and threatened. In “Training Day” it is Hoyt who feels out of his league, and intimidated by his environment, much the way Virgil di in “Heat”. It may not be that he suffers racial prejudice, but he is discriminated against, by his “boss”, criminals, suspects and pretty much everyone he deals with in the first ¾ ‘s of the movie. Alonso has the upper hand from the very beginning. He is insulting, condescending and arrogant from the moment he meets Hoyt in the diner. He calls Hoyt “my nigger”. Hoyt is “owned” by Alonso, who is not merely showing him the ropes, but manipulating him, incriminating him and basically acting as his keeper. Alonso constantly imparts wisdom, makes Hoyt howl, and basically manhandles him Later, in the “Jungle”, on the streets, with the other narc officers, while confronting suspect and inside Alonso’s “office” (i.e. the souped up Cadillac) Hoyt stands out, is ill at ease, and is questioned by those around him. One of the other narc officers asks, “Who the hell is this?”. . The two attempted rapists seem to be afraid of Alonso, but one continues to berate Hoyt as he walks away. The white rookie earns no respect. In the “jungle” Hoyt is glared at by the residents, and told not to return by himself. When he arrives at “Smiley’s” house he is again made to feel the stranger. No one moves out of his way, he is almost killed (similar to Virgil, in “Heat”). Hoyt is the “rookie”, the outsider. Towards the end of the movie it appears that he will be killed due to his “outsider” appearance. But, the most interesting element is not that he is an outsider, but that he reverses this role. In the end, he is released from the bathroom where his head is almost blown open, he is allowed to walk through the “jungle”, Alonso’s own son lets him into the house, and no one rushes to kill Hoyt as he does battle with Alonso. Unlike the black character despised by Guerrero, who strives to be white, it would appear that Hoyt has become “black”, or at least become a less naïve and innocent character. By the end of his “Training day” he has seen corruption and maybe come to terms with some of it. He even begins to use some of Alonso’s terminology: “Do you want to go to jail? Or do you wanna go home?” By the closing credits, Hoyt is accepted and respected, a drastic change from earlier in the movie.



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