Posts Tagged ‘Individualsim’

Cory Christensen
Philosophy and the Movies
January 29, 2012

Individualism VS. Collective Groups

In reference to Ayn Rand, colleagues at the Ayn Rand University and myself, certain observations related to Rand’s theory of individualism over collective groups will be examined in relation to the Clint Eastwood Movie “Gran Torino.”
Ayn Rand’s view of individualism states that everyone needs to be viewed as an individual rather than a minority. Meaning that people should think and judge independently.  Collectivism on the other hand is the theory or practice that causes “some sort of group rather than the individual the fundamental unit of political, social, and economic concern”. When acting as a minority several problems can arise such as racism between these different minorities. This is the major theme in “Gran Torino.”  Edwin A. Locke makes a very good point of this when he states, “taking away jobs from one group in order to compensate a second group to correct injustices caused by a third group who mistreated a fourth group at an earlier point in history is absurd on the face of it and does not promote justice; rather, it does the opposite.”   Racism does not cure racism and racial harmony is what needs to be focused on.
Ayn Rand believes that people need to be viewed by their own individual merits rather than their color of skin. For example, in “Gran Torino” we have four minorities that butt heads with each other in this movie but to keep things simple I am only going to focus on three.  Clint Eastwood portrays the old, white, and racist vet from the Vietnam War.  The “Hmong” or Asian minority that moves next door to Clint, and finally the Latin American Minority, which is represented as a gang. From this being said there is a lot of racial tension from the beginning.
However, Clint, the main character soon grows to accept the Asian minority on terms of their individual merits and the minorities accept each other and form this racial harmony.  This was one of the main key points that show how Rand’s theory obviously works.
Moving on, with a primary example of racism within minorities and between other minorities.   In this movie there are two gangs, you have the Asian gang and the Latin gang.  Both of these gangs tend to harass one another especially when one is by himself or herself or outnumbered causing each individual to join with their fellow minority gangs.  This creates a violent tension between the two.   One particular boy is Asian and refuses to join the gang of his specific minority, thus causing a violent tension within his own minority thus bringing danger not only to themselves but to Clint and surrounding minorities as well.
This further proves that minority distinction creates a lot of problems such as gang violence, stereotypes, and hatred.  It creates this stereotypical image that makes you automatically assume that all the people of a particular minority act in certain ways, usually focusing on the negative aspects and feeding the hatred between them.  It also creates lots of problems in the justice system with racial profiling with specific minorities.

When in reality there is to an extent certain stereotypes that tend to be true but not every individual of a specific minority is true to them.  In return, this further proves that individual merits need to be focused upon rather than just the minority as a group.
Not that minorities sticking together is always a bad thing, only when violence takes place, but minorities need to stick together to preserve their culture so it can be passed on from generation to generation.
Rand herself believed that the American society was founded upon individualism and we need to continue to focus on everyone’s individual rights.  I mean after all isn’t America about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Once again, this movie has several key points that prove Rand’s theory.  The first being that Clint looked past his previous racist minority view of the Asians next door and accepted them individually and even became closer to them then his own family.  The second states that minorities create violent tension between different minorities and also problems within specific minorities themselves.  Collectivism creates many problems within society moving us further away from our individual rights that America was founded on to begin with.
Therefore I would have to agree with Ayn’s belief of individualism over collective minorities because more problems are derived when we focus on minority groups.  Even though some minority groups have had it worse than others in the past, if something was done about it today it would create discrimination against the other minorities because one would be favored over the others.  Besides the majority of the people alive today had nothing to do with the mistreatment of those minorities who were done wrong in the past.

Works Cited

Eastwood, Clint, dir. “Gran Torino.” Writ. Johansson, Dave, Schenk Nick. DVD.

Locke, Edwin. “Individualism–The Only Cure for Racism.” (1997): 1-2. Print.