Thursday, January 10, 2008

Training Day: Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven?

Training Day serves as an interesting film when viewed from perspectives like Guerrero’s. The film undoubtedly portrays black people as violent and intimidating. Beyond that, the main black character, Alonzo, is ultimately a crooked cop relying on his charisma to take advantage of others. He is also ultimately at the mercy of a trio of powerful white men.

Surely that says volumes about Hollywood’s opinions regarding race? Well, not exactly. The film provides a number of black characters that do not share Alonzo’s manipulative characteristics, such as the members of his neighborhood that turn on him at the end of the film. Beyond that, when judging the violent demeanor of the black people in the film, the depiction of Hispanics acting similarly must be taken into account. This seems to suggest that it is the neighborhood and community, not the racial backgrounds, that lends itself to such an attitude.

On the other hand, the film does have an interesting overall take on white people. The only white characters we see are Jake, one of the main characters, and the “three wise men.” Jake is surely the most moral character in the film, because he focuses on doing what he feels is right without taking advantage of others. He tries to walk the straight and narrow path, resisting the dirtier methods Alonzo tells him are necessary on the streets.

To me, this conflict of philosophies was the crux of the film. Alonzo’s goal was to convince (or in his mind, teach) Jake that the only way to effectively work and live on the streets is to sometimes be a dirty cop. While he does provide a lot of useful lessons for Jake that will probably save his life in the future, Alonzo ultimately becomes drunk with power. His rant at the end of the film proves this, as he feels himself invincible even while surrounded by armed, angry men: “King Kong ain’t got shit on me!” Soon after, he is shot and killed for his actions in Las Vegas, where he killed a man who happened to have very powerful friends.


Blogger Cat said...

I think that you make some very interesting points here. I noticed the same thing about Jake and the three wise men. It seems to me that Gerrero would have commented on how these three white and powerful been that seem to reign over the corruption that occurs in this portion of the city and reap the benefits from the actions of a dirty cop closely parallels the plantation owners. There was one white person that you forgot, though, Roger. What do you think his presence is representative of in the film. Apparently he is also a drug dealer and that's how he has made all of the money that Alonzo takes from him. How do you think this works in the film? In Gerrero?

7:38 AM  

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