Higher Learning

Higher Learning

In the 1995 movie, "Higher Learning", John

Singleton gives evidence to numerous sociological issues. In which,

Singleton emphasizes that our society needs to be re-socialized, so that
society as a whole can overlook all of our preconceived stereotypes and
norms, and pass judgement on people not based on the color of their skin
or beliefs. As such, three major, and five minor sociological issues arise
in the film.

The major sociological issue is
the use of symbols. Symbolic Interaction asserts that society is
composed of symbols, which use to establish meaning and relationships,
to coordinate actions, and to develop a view of the world and the self
(Henslin, p.15). Singleton uses many examples of symbols throughout
the film. For example, the statue of Columbus signifies the need
for a global change in attitude. Disproving the common theory that
the world was flat, Columbus revolutionized society\'s outlook on their
contemporary lifestyle. Singleton uses this revolutionary figure
to signify that universities and other such institutions can also be used
as avenues for a global mindset change, by learning. Another symbol
used throughout the film is the act of running. Malik is portrayed
throughout the film as running, signifying a progression from a typical
gangbanger to an educated athlete. Conversely, periods throughout
the film where Malik is off the track team or not running, Singleton digresses

Maliks\' education and reverts the character back to a hoodlum. Evidence
of this is when Malik is kicked off the track team, and Dr. Phipps informs

Malik that his paper is not up to university standards. Another symbol
strongly used in the film is the character Deja. Deja\'s character
exemplifies tolerance and innocence lost. She dedicates her efforts
on studying, yet manages to fulfill her role on the track team; whereas,

Malik loses his motivation for schooling after being depicted as just a
thoroughbred. Deja throughout the film encourages Malik to make use
of his opportunity and not to succumb to his pride. Likewise, the
ending of the film would not have brought forth the same emotions in the
audience if any of the other characters had died. Deja represented
the studious and hard working pupil, and her death signified an innocent
lost.

Another major sociological issue
arising in the film is the role of groups. Groups mold basic perception
and ideals, and these groups become part of each member\'s identity and
the lens through which a member views society (Henslin, p.101). An
example of this from the film is when Fudge categorizes the student body.

Fudge enlightens Malik to the fact that all the Asian students socialize
with each other, all of the white students socialize with each other, and
how Malik being a black student, should congregate with the rest of the
black student body. Even though all of the students preside on the
same campus, or a secondary group, the general student body breaks down
into more individual primary groups. Moreover, Singleton illustrates
how peer pressure affects individuals in these primary groups. For
example, Remy\'s skinhead friends coerce him into beating people up on Halloween.

At first Remy seemed shocked by the actions of his friends, but Scott assures

Remy that they are just ethnically cleansing society. As such, Remy
soon partakes in the assault on the fellow students. Another group
example Singleton uses is the process of groupthink. Irving Janis
coined the term, groupthink, as a narrowing of thought by people, leading
to the perception that there is only one correct answer and that they suggestion
of alternatives is a sign of disloyalty. Singleton provides a good
example of groupthink when Fudge sets off to vindicate Monet\'s honor after
having been called a \'black bitch\'. Fudge\'s friends need no explanation
on what was said, or by whom, only that there was an injustice done.

The last major sociological issue
arising in "Higher Learning" is the Authoritarian Personality. Theodor

Adorno used the term authoritarian personality for people who are prejudiced
and rank high on scales of conformity, intolerance, insecurity, respect
for authority, and submissiveness to superiors. The character
of Remy, is a classic example of having an authoritarian personality.

Remy is in desperate need of attaching himself to something or someone.

Throughout the film, Singleton depicts Remy as a loser who says inappropriate
things at the wrong time. For example, after Kristen rushes out of
the fraternity, Remy walks over to Billy and congratulates him on getting\'laid\'. However, Remy misinterprets the scenario and is deemed an
outcast by the majority of the fraternity brothers. Another example
of Remy\'s insecurity is when he blames the minorities in his class for
his failure at becoming an engineer. Another character with authoritarian
characteristics is Kristen. She too seems