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The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Essay- Chloe Taylor How are different cultures represented in Freedom Writers? What values and attitudes do we draw from the film and its background? Cultures are shown and exposed to us in various ways everyday. Different cultures are represented in different ways in the Western Society. In the movie Freedom Writers, we witness this cultural conflict on a first hand basis.

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Urban youths in Freedom Writers heavily rely on respect to judge others. They also judge based on each other’s cultural back ground.

Later in the film, these same teenagers begin to value education and the sense of belonging in school, rather than belonging in gangs. Gangs and groups are a part of the Western Society that we have had to learn to accept in our lives. In the feature film Freedom Writers, we are shown gangs divided up into cultures and cultural backgrounds. This has built up a lot of tension between cultures and attitudes towards other gangs. The scene in which all the students enter room 203 and take seats into their separate corners of the room divided into their certain corners of the room shows the division between students in a real life.

We see a long shot of the whole classroom showing its layout and the segregation between gangs. Then multiple mid-shots are shown of the gang itself and its individual members to decipher the multiple gangs, their attitudes towards school and their way of life. Even though the students start their school year with an attitude of ignorance towards other cultures they begin to learn the value of each individual and change their point of view and their gangs and cooperate with their cultures. People may argue that respect is something that has to be earned, it is not automatic.

In the 1992 Los Angeles’s race riots, respect was something that was taken for granted, as it was essential for their society. In Freedom Writers, Ms Gruwell demanded respect immediately. Not surprisingly the students refused to give it to her and why should they of, they didn’t know anything about Ms Gruwell. Towards the end of the film we see that Ms Gruwell has gradually gained the respect she wanted from her class. We are shown this in a first hand basis as Andre, a gang member, calls Ms Gruwell ‘Mam’.

She takes this as an offence and claims she is not anyone’s mother; Eva soon corrects her and states that it was a ‘sign of respect to you’. This scene is shown to us by a series of close up shots of Andre, Ms Gruwell and Eva. This is purposely done to capture the changing emotion in the characters face. The students of room 203 value Ms Gruwell not only as a teacher and a person and this is reflected in their attitude and behaviour. We all know what racism is and have most likely been subjected to it or witnessed it at one time in our lives.

Racism is more prominent in schools and work places although random attacks of racist acts can also be seen in the streets or at public places where the offender and the victim may not even know each other. In the feature film Freedom Writers, every student at Long Beach either dishes out racist comments or receives them. When all of the ‘unteachable’ students get integrated into the same class we see this clash of cultures collide. A racist caricature is drawn of one of the African-American students and the rest of the students find it amusing.

Ms Gruwell takes the picture and compares it to the Jews during the holocaust. Erin was greeted with dumb-founded looks only to find out the kids didn’t know what the holocaust was yet they acted out their lives in a similar racist manner. This scene is shown by using close ups of Ms Gruwell and the victim of the caricature, Jamal. We see Ms Gruwell looking horrified and Jamal’s expression looking embarrassed. We are also shown mid-shots of the whole class to show their expressions and they seem amused and proud of themselves.

Towards the end of the movie the students do not lash out any forms of racism at one another and instead treat each other as good friends. At the end of Freedom Writers, the students have accepted and value each other as individual people not of their cultural back ground. Ms Gruwell gained the respect she earned from devoting her life to teach these children. During this essay I have explored the movie Freedom Writers and how factors like gangs, respect and racism can have such an impact on peoples lives. It can change peoples values on life and their attitudes and behaviours towards things and that is what we draw from the film.