Message from Peggy Forsberg: “Watching the same film and then posting their discussion will be just fine, and
Hotel Rwanda is a great choice. It features political and sociological themes,
including the effects of political upheaval on individuals and groups.
Thanks for checking..I’ll look forward to seeing their discussion!
From Mr. Bednar – I’ve assigned each student two questions, but please negotiate, or choose a different question if you like. These questions are shared with you google docs.
Choose any current or older movie with a sociological theme–as you can imagine, your choice may be as diverse as “Wall Street” or “Post Grad”, since virtually all movies can be tied to the topics in our text in some way. You may choose comedy or drama, real or animation, documentary or fiction, etc.
Watch or re-watch the movie–as you do, outline the aspects of the film that apply to a topic or topics from this course. Then, consider whether the film accurately portrays this theme as Henslin or our other sociological theorists have presented it to us. For example, Alexis Bledel plays a recent college graduate (Ryden Malby) who can’t find a job in “Post Grad”. Are her expectations reasonable? Does the film use any stereotypes to support her quest? Are the relationships within the film realistic?
Don’t spend much time on the actual storyline except as needed to support your main points–instead, devote most of your initial discussion post to the questions noted above.
Post your initial response no later than Sunday, April 24, then respond to your classmates with comments and questions throughout the week. Last post is due no later than Sunday, May 1. This assignment is worth 30 points.
Enjoy this discussion!–The goal is to apply one or more of the topics in this course to media as we regularly do in day-to-day life.
Historical Overview of film, “Hotel Rwanda”:
During the colonial period, Belgium divided the Rwandan people into two distinct ethnic groups, Hutus and Tutsis. The Hutus comprised around 85% of the population while the Tutsis made up the other 15%. The Belgians saw the two groups as distinct entities, and even produced identity cards classifying them according to their identity. Belgians considered the Tutsis to be superior to the Hutus, which led to Tutsis acquiring better jobs and more educational opportunities. However, in 1962, Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda its independence and the Hutu majority ceased control. Over subsequent decades, the Tutsis were portrayed as the scapegoats for every crisis.
Some Tutsis and moderate Hutus responded by fleeing the country and joining the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which began opposing and fighting the Hutu led government in Rwanda. Violence between the Hutu government and the RPF resided throughout the early 1990′s. The final nail in the coffin came on April 6, 1994 by the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport. The Hutu government accused the RPF of the attack and immediately a campaign of violence spread from the capital throughout the country against the Tutsis. What followed was 3 months of slaughter and genocide and the death of 800,000 Tutsis.
In July the RPF captured Kigali and declared a ceasefire. UN troops and aid workers began arriving to help maintain order and restore basic services. Although the massacres are over, the legacy of genocide continues and the search for justice has been a long and arduous one. Many of those guilty of genocide have been captured in Rwanda; however, some of the ringleaders have managed to evade capture, and many who lost their loved ones are still waiting for justice.
Ethical Issues and Discussion Questions (taken from: http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/education/002/film/reviews/0004.html)
1. At the beginning of the film, Paul places far greater value on protecting his family than protecting his neighbors. But as the film progresses 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.
Is his decision the morally right one? In making decisions, how much weight should one give to the welfare of one’s family compared to the welfare of one’s neighbors? How much weight should governments give to the welfare of foreign peoples compared to that of their own citizens?
2. The UN Colonel tells reporters that his troops are “peace-keepers,” not “peace-makers.” By UN mandate, UN troops were permitted to use their weapons only in self-defense. If the Colonel had disobeyed orders and authorized his troops to fire on Interhamwe fighters, would he have done the right thing?
3. Do you agree that racism played a role in the international community’s failure to act to stop the genocide, as the UN colonel says? The film makes no mention of other possible contributing factors, such as the disastrous U.S. humanitarian intervention in Somalia in 1993, less than a year before, which ended after a U.S. helicopter was shot down and the bodies of U.S. soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Does this justify the U.S. and the UN’s refusal to intervene?
4. The film shows that there was a close relationship between the French and Hutu governments, even while the killings were going on. On the tenth anniversary of the genocide, Rwanda’s president accused the French of consciously training and arming the Hutus, knowing that they would massacre Tutsis. The French deny this, yet it is indisputable that France was the Rwandan government’s number-one supplier of weapons. Does this fact alone make France more culpable for the genocide than the rest of the international community? How should responsibility be allocated for what happened, both inside and outside Rwanda?
How has the international community, in particular Belgium, France, the United States, and the UN, faced up to the question of responsibility and blame in the years since the genocide?
5) In 2005, world leaders formally adopted the Responsibility to Protect [R2P]—the duty to intervene in when national governments fail to fulfill their responsibility to protect their citizens from atrocious crimes—and in 2006 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1674, which commits the Council to protect civilians during armed conflicts. Do you agree that under certain circumstances, R2P should override sovereignty? Can you cite any examples where R2P has been or should be implemented?
6) What can we learn about personal and collective responsibility in the case of the Rwandan genocide? If you were in a similar situation as Paul, what would be your response?
1. PBS/P.O.V website, Frontline’s “Triumph of Evil” www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/evil/
2. Facing History and Ourselves: The Case of Rwanda Hate Radio www.facinghistorycampus.org
3. Frontline’s “Ghosts of Rwanda” www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/
4. Amnesty International www.amnestyusa.org/amnestynow/general_and
5. Human Rights Watch www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/
6. Crimes of War www.crimesofwar.org/onnews/news-rwanda.html
7. Global Issues www.globalissues.org/HumanRights/Media/
8. Propaganda/Rwanda.asp The American University, Washington College of Law
9. Amnesty International www.amnestyusa.org
10. International Campaign to End Genocide www.genocidewatch.org
11. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda http://www.ictr.org
12. Prevent Genocide International www.preventgenocide.org
13. US Holocaust Museum Committee on Conscience www.ushmm.org
14. Vision TV: Remember Rwanda www.visiontv.ca/RememberRwanda/index.htm