YMMV / American History X

  • Award Snub: Edward Norton losing the Best Actor Oscar to Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful is widely seen as this.
  • Broken Aesop: In a clearly unintended, but quite tragically ironic way, the very ending ( Danny, reformed under Derek's influence and ready to renounce racism, being shot by a black gangbanger) can come across as this. While the message of the film is intended to be "Racism is wrong as there are good and bad individuals of every race and racial prejudice only perpetuates violence", those last minutes can almost make it seem as if the message were "Be nice to the minorities, otherwise they'll just kill you for no reason", in what jarringly feels like an invalidation of the entire movie's point.
    • Accidental Aesop: Though it can also be viewed as dangers of idolization towards individuals (including family members and their beliefs) without thinking, ranging from Derek's dismissal of his black teacher's lesson from his father's lecture to Henry's murdering Daniel due to influence of his elder brother as example of its message.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Seth's white supremacist rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The lyrics are hateful and racist, but Seth's exuberance while singing makes it uncomfortably amusing.
    • Even worse, that's an actual song by Johnny Rebel.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The film's message is "racism is bad", but the contrast between the generally charismatic Nazis and the villainous black gangs, along with some general Misaimed Fandom tendencies among certain audiences, means that the film is actually quite popular in certain white supremacist circles.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Cameron's joke to Derek at the party.
    Cameron: Come on, you don't have to watch your ass in here.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Davina Vinyard. Though the only people she was ever a Jerkass to were Derek (pre-prison) and his white supremacist friends.
    • Derek himself. He turned into a vicious thug, but that was only after his father was killed putting out a fire.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In spite of the film's anti-racist message, it still has a large number of Neo-Nazi fans due to the fact that Derek is strong, charismatic, and a natural leader. See Do Not Do This Cool Thing.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Derek shooting at the armed assailants intruding on his home is defensible as defense of home, but when he kills one of them after he seriously wounded him is sailing over the line. Some would say that the line was crossed when he and the other attackers assaulted and tormented the workers of the shop who unlike the criminals did nothing to deserve this apart from being immigrants.
    • Also his fellow members, especially Seth and his girlfriend, threatened to shoot him when he decided that he was through with the neonazi life.
    • Also Cameron was obviously beyond it, what with being behind organised attacks against immigrants but he also said he that Danny would take Derek's place and Derek wouldn't be able to get away from it.
    • Also The prison rape as well though it is hardly surprising from such scumbags.
    • Henry shot Danny to death. While Danny was a Neonazi the only thing he did to him, was defy him while he was bullying another student for no good reason. The biggest culprit was his brother who told him to do it as his initiation into their gang.
  • Signature Scene: The curb scene. If the name of the movie doesn't ring any bells to someone, it will after you remind them of this scene.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: There is still a shockingly high number of Neo-Nazis both in California and Tony Kaye's native England. There's no other way to say it, either; racism is a pointlessly destructive thing no matter who its perpetrators or targets are.
  • Squick: Derek curb-stomping the black guy to death.
  • Values Resonance: With stories of police brutality coming out everyday, this movie is even more relevant in the dialogue on racism.