Introduction: Jewish Esotericism in Film
American History X, directed by Tony Kaye and distributed in 1998 by New Line Cinema, has been without a doubt one of the most controversial and influential dramas of the last two decades. It is a riveting film of critical acclaim, yet I will argue that up until this writing it has been wildly misunderstood as art, and has never been properly analyzed in a symbolic sense.
Here I will make the case that this film is in fact a sophisticated, highly encoded work of Jewish esotericism, depicting the hidden Jewish manipulation of Gentiles by way of institutionalized Christianity. In addition is the depiction of another common theme in Jewish art, racial cuckoldry of Gentile women, all of which is indicated by the esoteric biblical and mythological significance contained in the names (and actions) of the film’s characters.
For many this will sound absolutely shocking, even offensive. The truth is that the use of such Jewish esoteric symbolism, whether or not it is fully understood to be so offensive, turns out to be quite conscious and commonplace amongst Jewish directors and filmmakers, particularly those with extensive religious schooling (like Kaye).
In a certain sense, the “subculture” I will go on to describe might actually be expected to develop amongst members of such a tight-knit and studious ethnic group, and instructively, such a long history of shared and complex symbolism helps one decipher the language of Jewish art. In fact, it seems the Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, even contemporary “Blockbuster” directors such as Bryan Singer all have at some time used this shared understanding and symbol language in their films.
To elaborate on the concept more broadly, an uncontroversial example of a simple “naming convention” that the reader will be familiar with, can be seen in the work of Charles Dickens, as he styles his characters with evocative, colorful, thematically recurring names that often describe “hidden” personality traits, changing the meaning of his stories.
However we can make no mistake, as the sophistication of Jewish art is unrivaled in this regard. Due to the long-standing roots of the Judeo-Christian legacy, Jewish-inspired mythology permeates a great deal of contemporary culture, often seemingly down to the very depths of perceived moral reality. To the sincere credit of these filmmakers, what they have done is absolutely remarkable.
To make a point clear at the outset, while it seems unlikely that David McKenna (the screenwriter responsible for the initial script) was Jewish, it is clear that Kaye, an Orthodox Jew and Kabbalist, was able to radically alter the whole of the story, which includes the addition of entirely new characters (such as Lamont, the diminutive black convict who “Converts” Derek). Also, as a debut director collaborating with McKenna as a debut screenwriter, Kaye was likely able to negotiate pre-existing character names at his discretion, although given the long and opaque history of a film’s production, we can never be quite sure as to how such esotericism comes to be “encoded”, so to speak. In fact, it is entirely possible for a Gentile screenwriter to be roughly conscious of Jewish esoteric thought and naming convention in the circles of popular cinema, he may even be unaware of the ultimate meaning, understanding it all as a Christian/Atheist. Further, it is even possible that a Gentile screenwriter such as McKenna would willfully and knowingly produce an esoteric schema in a mutual artistic effort with Kaye, creating what seems to be a particularly anti-Gentile message.*
This would be no surprise, as there are many instances of such cooperation in film, and in prevailing forms of Jewish media more generally. We can never really be certain. Here, it is simply important to note that instances of Jewish esotericism in film do not require all members of the production staff to be Jewish, or to understand Jewish esoteric mythology, only those in positions of decisive influence and creative control.
Names and Symbols
Certain symbolism in this film, such as that of the obvious Christ figure, “Danny Vinyard” (Daniel, a Jewish ethnic designation and a biblical reference to God’s judgement, followed by a reference to the Vine – signifying Christ), shot with three bullets (three nails), will be fairly uncontroversial.
That the black teens who shoot Danny are paradoxically indicated as Gentiles, even Aryan/”Roman” characters, will be somewhat more controversial. The reasoning here is that along with their “Gentile” names, indicating that they are not Jewish, their chains are all without crosses, alluding to the fact that they are not even assimilated Gentile Christians. Confirming this, is the additional fact that the leader of their gang wears a scorpion on his chain, the definitive symbol of the Roman Praetorian Guard. (While this level of investigation may seem tedious, black characters can indeed be esoterically indicated as Jewish [or otherwise], as this analysis will show.)
Other references still, such as the character “Dennis” Vinyard, Derek’s deceased father, whose offspring and wife represent the “fruit” and harvest of Jewry, indicated as property of the Proto-Jewish Cult of Dionysus (Dionysus’ “vineyard”), a mystery cult which predates the Christianization of Rome, will seem completely indecipherable to all but a very few.
Nevertheless, all of these interpretations will be shown to be correct, often obviously so, as esoterically conveyed by the film. As mentioned, these interpretations are based on the repeated observation of character “naming convention” in Jewish filmmaking, wherein a filmmaker uses names as signifiers to correlate certain characters with esoteric biblical and cultural figures. By doing so, the esoteric meaning of the film and it’s characters becomes a radically different one, often one in favor of Jewish identity, and the moral promotion of Jewish interests over Gentile interests. I will assume a basic familiarity with the biblical texts, as well as an acceptance of mainstream etymology.
For further references on Jewish naming convention and esoteric art, I refer the reader to the excellent, foundational writings of Mark Brahmin, who has thoroughly laid out the theory which underscores the Jewish esotericism in question (“J.E.M”.)
To give a detailed example of how this naming convention can entirely change the meaning of the films’ characters, take the first-born protagonist, “Derek”, whose name traces back to the Germanic moniker “people-ruler”, a sign of tremendous significance. When contrasted with “Danny” (The Hebrew Daniel, meaning “God is my Judge”), his aforementioned frail, studious second-born brother, it becomes clear that Danny is to be esoterically understood as an ethnically “Jewish” character, and that Derek has been ethnically identified as a “Gentile”.
We can see this “brotherly” opposition in the corresponding myths of Esau and Jacob, Cain and Abel, Japheth and Shem, the latter, and second-born of the pair indicating “priestly”,”shepherd” Jewry as opposed to the burly farmer, the “sturdy” first-born gentile stock of the former, corresponding to the Indo-European/Aryan tribespeople of biblical times. This esoteric “thread” runs through all of Judeo-Christian scripture and art, and instructs both the true relationship of the brothers, as well as the subtle Jewish-Gentile identities of the characters that the filmmakers wish to convey.
With all of the above understood, we will clearly come to see that Danny, our Christ-figure, is signified as the cuckold son of a Jew, of “The Jewish God” as it were, or more cynically here, the Jewish “prophet” “Murray” the history teacher, whose name in the Jewish etymology corresponds to “Moshe” (born of Yahweh), also known as Moses, the revealer of Jewish Law. For the reader’s clarity, the more complex associations of the name are less relevant, and often they are not relevant at all. What most matters here is Murray’s esoteric identification as a Jew.
This father-son connection is corroborated in the introductory scene, where a long standing sexual relationship with Doris is implied, and also by clear connection in the aforementioned Christ mythology, in which the Jewish Christ is the son of a Jewish figure (Murray being the only Jewish-indicated man in the film of the proper age to be Danny’s father – this will be elaborated on later).
In this capacity, Danny goes on to serve as the film’s key moral character, ultimately delivering the angered, racially conscious Gentile Derek back into the “loving”, “Progressive” arms of the Jewish God. In an esoteric context, this story arc reads as a deceptive manipulation of Gentiles away from racial consciousness (and specifically, consciousness of Jewry) via the Crypto-Jewish doctrine of Christianity.
I will now go on to analyze the major developments of the film in sequence, focusing on the characters of primary significance.
*Author’s Note: It is my belief, after a long and careful analysis of multiple copies of the script, that David McKenna was only somewhat responsible for the “religious” symbolism in the film, and very little of the complex, specifically “Jewish esoteric” mythology. This is of course, an outsider’s perspective, yet the original script is missing many noticeable details, ranging from the addition of two more gunshots to complete Danny’s “Crucifixion”, to the complete omission of the crucial character of Lamont, the Crypto-Jewish inmate who brings about Derek’s “Conversion” (It is telling Derek is “Converted”, in a similar fashion, by Sweeney in McKenna’s initial script). These are not small details. While McKenna is almost certainly a Liberal “Progressive”, and it is likely he is responsible for some of the biblical imagery used in the initial script, and perhaps more later, one would seem rightfully suspicious in thinking that Tony Kaye was responsible for most of the significant Jewish esoteric content. The sheer amount of well-publicized conflict between Kaye and the production team over the film’s content bears out the idea that Kaye was indeed working on a “different page”, and the radically-changed final production corroborates this (to say nothing of Kaye’s filing of a 200 million-dollar lawsuit against New Line after a long running fight with NLC, The DGA and Edward Norton). Needless to say, this should all be taken as speculation rather than fact.