The society today is influenced by the occurrences of the past, such that, there is no general understanding as to what is expected. The general concept of good and bad is no longer applicable as the past dictates the present and the present, the future. Revenge has been a normal occurrence where no forgiveness exists; instead, payback is promoted. This is clear in the American movie, ‘Hotel Rwanda’, based on the genocide of Rwanda. The brotherly love and respect for human life, which is a virtue, is evidently absent. There is an outburst of rage that had built up over the years, which led to the execution of almost a million people.
The movie, which is based on a true story, indicates the kind of social decay in the world today. This include the level of racism and ethnic divides, poor political standards, corrupt educational systems and environment, gender discrimination and religion disrespect and lack of social reliance.
Being from the same country and probably neighbors, one would expect a show of hospitality in time of need. This is flagrant in the movie. As much as there was violation of the human right to life, there was some element of social support. Paul Rusesabagina shows leniency to the fleeing Tutsi by hosting them in the hotel. It also brought out the ethical concept and societal acceptable mannerism in the movie. Zoeller, (2006) states, “… his sense of obligation to his neighbors and his countrymen deepens. Indeed, rather than abandon the refugees he is sheltering, he sends his family to safety while he stays behind.” This shows there was support to the fellow people who were under threat from the Interhamwe. Therefore, regardless of the extreme massacre, the movie shows that there are still people who held up their humanity.
As the movie begins, we are introduced to an environment full of tension. There are discussions being held by the malicious groups who are roughly planning attacks on the Tutsi people. The tension is much more conspicuous as the president, a Hutu, is assassinated at the airport. Threats to the smaller group are sent out through various media channels including radio stations. The unrest persists and the Tutsis are seen to vacate their homes to seek safety at Paul’s residence and others at the hotel.
Besides the tension environment, there is also an untrustworthy environment among the people as they are not sure who is and who is not for them. This is evident as one of the workers at the hotel is unhappy with Paul’s decision to host the Tutsi people. He is seen to become defiant and uncooperative when asked to help them out. He also fails to follow orders from Paul until he is threatened by the General to be respectful. The people prefer to keep to themselves as they are not aware who really is on their side, and who might be a spy of the Interehamwe militia. The movie therefore brings a grim, tension-filled environment.
In the movie, the concept of socio-economic status is observed roughly. It however becomes more evident when the attacks commence and the victims begin searching for safety. It incorporates the influence one has and the economic status of the people. Clearly, majority of the people were not very capable and could not access any form of help themselves. Paul’s wife is seen to plead with him to contact his sources to get them help. He however initially declines claiming that he is saving the favor for a more critical time. Earlier in the scene, there are views of him dining and having fun with prominent people who have visited the hotel. This shows of his diversity in influence and his social status, where, he associates with big people like him. The existence of the disparity of the socially and financially capable and incapable in the society is apparent in the movie through him.
As the attacks become extreme, Paul is also seen to take advantage of the friendships he made with the prominent people to get help for his family and the large crowd that was quickly building up inside and outside the hotel. He pressurizes them to do something to end the massacre or get help from outside the country since they were in a better position to do that. He also uses his influence to get the General to channel water to the hotel after they had run out of the available water. Clearly, these could only be done by a well-connected person, both socially and economically.
Race and Ethnic Classification
From the occurrence in the country, Rwanda, it is clear that there was some element of racism. The genocide was ignored by the rest of the world especially the West because it was an African state. Zoellner, (2006) stated that, “It was genocide whatever way you look at it, whatever way you try to rationalize it (it can’t be rationalized) but it was ignored by the world – in particular America and the UN ‘peace-keeping’ force on the ground, who turned a blind eye every time someone raised a machete.” One would wonder if the same would have been the reaction had it been in a country with white skinned people. As the people continued killing each other, the United States congress went on debating whether it was ‘genocide’ or ‘acts of genocide’. Really, the ignorance was because of the skin color, thus showing evidence on the existence of racism.
In the movie, there is a clear existence of ethnic divide and disregard of the opposite ethnic group. Although there are only two groups, the Hutu and Tutsi, there is no understanding among them. Bloodshed is evident where Hutus mercilessly kill the Tutsi people, regardless of the neighborhood they had been in before the eruption of the Genocide. For instance, having housed the Tutsi people in his hotel, Paul Rusesabagina was encouraged by his supplier, George to let them go so that they would be killed. The Interehamwe who were the Hutu militia also attack the hotel demanding the handing over of the Tutsi. Therefore, there is clarity of the existing ethnic divide.
The level of ethnicity is also evident from the acts of the Belgians who had colonized them earlier on. They chose to work with the smaller group, which was the Tutsi over the majority, Hutu, where they had the option to balance. This is where the ethnic division begins; where the Hutu believe they are being left behind deliberately, thus develop hatred towards the Tutsi. Working together and sharing power becomes impossible following the division, (Brym and Lie, 2006).
Religion and Gender
The concept of religion is not clear in the movie, though one would wonder, ‘Do these people have a supreme being to whom they account to their deeds?’ Any normal human being would be uncomfortable to take the life of another human being. Having a religious background makes it even harder since no religion permits the murder of an innocent human being for a conflict that can be solved amicably. It is overwhelming as to how much there is disregard of religion, where almost no one cared about another.
As would be expected, people facing threats on their lives would seek refuge in places of worship, regardless of the faith or religion. This is not seen in the movie. Therefore, possibility that the religious group had also divided based on ethnicity is an option. It is a religious leader’s responsibility to accommodate everyone and give hope where needed. However, the people preferred to seek refuge in the hotel and other places as opposed to the worship place. Given the tension that was there, it was almost impossible to trust the religious group, as they could also be enemies. The morals of the people were also overwhelmingly uncouth and contrary to religious teachings as they publicly called the Tutsis ‘inyenzes’, meaning cockroaches, and asking their people to finish them.
As the movie proceeds, one realizes that the massacre was not gender sensitive and that the murderers killed indiscriminately. There were no considerations as to whether the victims were men, women or children. Their age too did not matter. As long as one was a Tutsi, they were murdered brutally. This is seen where as Paul was driving to his supplier, George, he came across a heap of dead people along the road, which had all people, old and young, male and female. He was so bitter with George who was undoubtedly an Interhamwe local leader.
From the analysis, it is clear that the Hutu intended to wipe out a whole race. Though the massacre was only for one hundred days, the number of people killed was overwhelming. The sad thing, which is clear in the movie, was that the whole world watched as the Rwandese people destroyed themselves and acted brutally towards their minority, the Tutsi. This movie is also a clear indication of the society today, where morals are becoming outdated. The people should realize that another person’s life is as important as their own and that diplomacy is always the best option to get things done.
Brym, Robert, and Lie, John. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2006. Print.
Zoellner, Tom. The True Story behind ‘Hotel Rwanda’. May 27 2006. Web. 23 Jun 2010.
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