There is a strong relationship between black insurgency in the race bound economies of both American and South African modernity. The film Tsotsi focuses on young man who is a throwaway kid in the new post-apartheid South Africa. As cultures change, so the ideals, beliefs and attitudes change. These features are characteristic in both the South African and American societies as presented in the film. As could be seen through his demeanor and behavior, Tsotsi is clearly a thug (Collins 127). The film humanizes Tsotsi neither glorifying his violence nor evoking sorrow for him as a victim (Collins 127). In the film he comes out as a scary young man, but the whole notion of a thug who is concurrently alien and human encourages viewers to examine the society that we have created for him.
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In the South African society, the Tsotsi of the Johannesburg urban areas, which is an almost detribalized, often illegitimate teenage criminal felonious, neither understands nor respects the tribal customs and culture of his forefathers (Ridder 6). As presented in the film, the language known as the Tsotsi slang, has been developed which is fully understandable only to the gang members. In both the South African and American society, language serves not only to identify gang members or to convey secret messages in public but it mirrors the ego-ideals of the South African ‘Tsotsi’ and the American gangsters and their way of life.
Compared to the American society, the South African Tsotsis live in a kind of fantasy world of American gangster films (Ridder 6). In both societies it can be noted that the urban African and American personality is a development which has evolved as a result of intermingling of the cultural patterns. Unlike popular beliefs, the American society, while it has modified the South African traditional tribal culture, has by no means completely submerged and shattered it. Williams says that over time Tsotsitaal came to symbolize a combination of pride in South African ethnic identities and resistance to the racist apartheid system (Williams 50). American icons also served to shape Tsotsi fashion, with stovepipe pants, broad-brimmed hats and brightly colored jackets. Williams says that these were modeled on the media images of Hispanic and African-American Zoot suitors coming to occupy central position in reimagining racial identities and affiliations in the South African context.
In South African society, youth gangs asserted their urban identity and were influenced by American gangster imagery. According to Glaser, Tsotsi was a young man who was dressed, spoke and behaved in a clearly identifiable way (Glaser 47). Similar to the American city slicker, the South African Tsotsi, as presented in the movie, were involved in some kind of criminal or quasi-legal activities and basically moved around in gangs (Glaser 47). Like the American society, the Tsotsis in South African society comprised of, as the modern sociologist, C. V. Bothma, described in 1951, a society of the adolescents with a clear sense of identity forged in the furnace of a hostile urban environment (Glaser 47). As presented in the film, the 21st century South African society formed an insular masculine culture that shared much in common with, but was nevertheless distinct from, their parent township culture.
In conclusion, Williams says that in the American society gangs, which engaged in victimization, preyed on fellow blacks because they were relatively safe marks (Williams 51). On the other hand, the characterization of Tsotsis, as less willing to express violence towards whites, is understandable when prefaced with knowledge of the forms of institutionalized repression throughout South African society in the 21st century. Williams indicated that like the Tsotsitaal language of the South African society, the American rap can be seen as a sub cultural code. In the context of the film it can be argued that feminists have the most significant barrier to achieving equality between the sexes in the women’s failure to admit to themselves that they are a repressed group in American society.
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