LA 92 Film Review

LA 92 Film Review A prevailing sentiment of the time of 'LA 92', a film by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin, would be encapsulated by the asian woman yelling 'This is America' repetitively while standing in front of her destroyed storefront. As simple the phrase was to utter from a viewer's standpoint, she said those words signifying the desire for peace, freedom, inclusion and prosperity for all people of colour within America in the 1900's, a place where rarely any of those virtues had been existing. The 2017 film depicts a geopolitically turbulent state within the United States of America, where a middle aged black motorist, Rodney King, had been unjustly and violently battered by the police following a roadside altercation. This encounter sparked a series of violent protests and riots seeking social change and social justice for racialized people within the communities of Los Angeles. This at the same time shone light on the truly racist judicial system and overarching style of government which allowed perpetrators of racist tropes, actions and tendencies to walk free. This essay seeks to examine and dissect aspects of the movie and highlight important themes occurring within it that relate to the course content. The initial aspect which in turn sparked the duration of the Los Angeles 1992 riots, was the brutal beating of Rodney King on a Los Angeles highway, with no particular reason to use excessive force as they did. Not only did the police show ideological racism pertaining to the pain tolerance and the indolence of black people, the four policemen showed murderous intent as Rodney King did not show signs of neither resistance nor malicious intent before the incident occurred, but they still beat him a total of fifty-six times. The most indicative form is shown in the insidious words they exchange in reaction to how serious they had beaten him, as they themselves admitted Rodney King did not deserve to be beaten the way he was,
although he still was. The extent to which anti-black policing and anti-black brutality was institutionalised was epitomised by this one moment, in which the policemen found no reason to hold back unleashing everything short of lethal violence on Mr King on that fateful night. This in visual form was the personification of ideological and structural racism as discussed in the course, which is backed up by the unjust jury decision shown later in the film. Another aspect which brings to light intersectionality between two major minority groups within Los Angeles at the time, the Korean-American community and the black-american community, is that of the trial of Soon Ja Du, a Korean woman, who was tried for the voluntary manslaughter of a fifteen year old girl, Latasha Harlins. As tensions were already high between the two communities due to previous economic and social factors, a Korean shop owner brutally murders a young black girl for suspecting that she might be stealing orange juice from her store. While it is outrightly unjust to murder, the paradigms of the situation allude to a history of racialization and stereotypes compounded by popular media and the controllers of the media of the time. Latasha Harlins had, before committing any crime, been perceived as a threat to Soon Ja Du's business, and threatened her safety without ever asserting that position. This perception is what Soon Ja Du finds it just to pull out her weapon and shoot the young girl in the back of her head. The perception, as it should be mentioned, was heavily dependent on the history of stereotypes on black people shown in media and culture, depicting black people as closer to primates, and being criminals if anything closer to being civilised human beings. (Cheung, 2005, 7) Tensions also applied inversely where Korean members of the community were ideated to be the "model minority" which coincided with members of their community filling up the economic void left by the departure of Jewish business owners after the Watts riots. (ibid, 6) Owning businesses gave Korean immigrants the disdain for stereotypical black criminals and it also gave black people
disdain for upstanding people of colour, when they, from an economic standpoint, were disenfranchised by the American government. The peak of conflict between these two groups occurs during the riots, as rioters destroy Korean owned businesses as well as any other business in the vicinity of the rioters, which further damages the image of black people in the eyes of the Korean immigrants. These ideals which propagated violence and contempt between two very racialized groups stem from the normative beliefs institutionalised and spread into culture by the white majority at that time, which speaks volumes for the overarching theme of intersectionality we go through in the course. The chain of violence ensuing the Rodney King incident consumed and subsumed everybody outside of the perpetrators of the crime itself, as further explicated by the outcomes of the trial of the four policemen in the midst of the rioting. The trial of the four policemen who beat Rodney King ended just as the community would not have hoped for, but definitely saw as a possibility. After a vote from the jury, the four men were found not guilty for the brutal assault of Rodney King in which they were video-taped in the act of. Not only did they leave unchained, but they were greeted with a decent amount of appreciation from a racist group of white individuals who perceived these men as just 'doing their job'. This shone more light on the judicial system than the community and its differences, as the system showed its severe racism problem. It is evident in the film that the jury consisted of no black people to provide input in the trial, and very few non-white people as well. So was the case of the Korean woman Soon Ja Du, who was tried by a white judge, which was not received well by the black community of Los Angeles. It is also shown within the following weeks that members of the black community appealed to have the judge dismissed, because she let a woman charged with manslaughter of an innocent black girl walk free, under the guise that she was not a 'threat to society'. A good indicative moment within
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