Film Analysis on Zoot Suit Riots and Salt of the Earth

Films are used to explore issues in society and deliver an opinion in a manner that exudes the thoughts of the character with respect to the sensitive subjects. Some of the films that elucidate vital issues include Zoot Suit Riots and Salt of the Earth. The most lucid matters displayed in both movies are social, ethical, and political themes that immigrants deal with in the US. The two films contrast in terms of setting, plot, and timing, but they have similarity in issues affecting immigrants of the Mexican origin. Both movies depict the issues in that revolve around racial inequality and dissatisfaction of employees of the Mexican origin. Both of them lead to strikes that spark debates on social, ethical, and political issues. From the social point of view, issues such as humanity, justice, and equality are given priorities. Ethical issues are based on informed consent, fairness, and societal right. Politics in both films is the right of immigrants to be given equal treatment in their respective capacities. The story of immigrants in Zoot Suit Riots displays the plight of Mexican Americans via the adventures of the youth who riot against the rules that confine and undermine their well-being. On the other hand, Salt of the Earth follows the story of employees of a mining company and shows how they riot against minimum wages and excess work. The different issues explored in both films are aimed at bringing to light the plight of immigrants in the US. The films also show how they deal with the issues via justice systems and regulations that help alleviate the difficulties that immigrants face.    

In the film Zoot Suit Riots, the story is based on the upsurge of a new era of a young Mexican American generation that overlooked rules and decided to give themselves a different identity from their parents. The film displays the fears that Anglo-Americans had with respect to the change in dressing of the young Mexican Americans. The alterations are made aggressive by the stereotype that Mexican Americans are low-class people compared to Anglo-Americans. During the changes in dressing and way of life among the young Mexican Americans, there was a murder that stayed unresolved. The killing of a 22-year-old young man that occurred at a party encouraged the Anglo-Americans to take advantage of the situation. They developed an idea that the changes were linked to criminal activities in which the young men are killing each other. The failure to pursue and resolve the murder led to a riot that was named the Zoot Suit Riots. The Zoot suits were the new outfits that the young Mexicans in Los Angeles had adopted. The murder was followed by a swipe of youths in Los Angeles that saw approximately 600 young men being taken into custody by the police. After the arrests, injustice ruled over the case. The verdict brought forward racial, social, and political issues that had been brewing for a long time. Following the story line of the film, the most prominent social issue was racism, which undermined the lives of Mexican Americans compared to Anglo-Americans.

Get a price quote
Title of your paper
Type of your assignment
Academic level
- +

The young men of Mexican origin dressed in baggy pants, long-tailed coats, and high boots, which provoked unjust accusations of the crime. The riots on the streets of Los Angeles displayed a long struggle that Mexicans had endured due to racism. The killing of one of the young Mexican American boys showed the level of tension between the two races. The murder, which was more or less mishandled by the justice system, brought to play issues of ethical responsibility. The justice system was unethical in the manner that it handled and ruled over the case, thus leading to riots of the dissatisfied youth. Politics played a huge role in the film where the white community sought control over the Mexican Americans community in terms of leadership. Since the city was controlled by white people, the case of the young Mexicans was downplayed. The social, ethical, and political issues displayed in the film brought to focus the problems faced by immigrants in the contemporary US. The role of leaders and the youth in society was vital for the survival of the community of immigrants. The latter faced racism, injustice, and political segregation. The contemporary society continues to struggle with the issues of dress code and misjudgment based on race. Most young people of Mexican origin are condemned without trial due to the stereotypical mentality of society.

Salt of the Earth is a film set in the 1950s in New Mexico where a group of workers in Empire Zinc Mine downed their tools following their mistreatment at the company. The workers of the company that were mostly Mexican Americans complained of unpaid holidays as well as overtime and minimum wages that were called ‘Mexican wage’. The workers also complained of unsafe conditions in their work environment and unequal treatment compared to Anglo-Americans. The employees rioted in protest against the unjust treatment, and the law court placed an injunction to stop the riots. The workers comprising entirely males stopped the riots; however, their wives refused to keep silent, and they continued the protest across the city. The court ruling saw the women and men of the Mexican origin resume work for men, and the women returned to their home duties. The court ordered the increases in wages for Zinc workers and hot water installment in all company employees’ homes. The movie also highlighted the mistreatment of Esperanza, the wife of one of the white people. The Mexican American woman was treated unfairly by her husband because of her race. She became the voice of women when she stood for the women and led them to the protests. The protests brought forward the social issues of domestic violence based on race and racism experienced by the workers in the company.

Get 10%
Want to earn Money

From the social perspective, the Anglo-Americans undermined the Mexican Americans and underpaid them in the workplace. The issue of racism gained ground in the domestic life of Esperanza. The woman dealt with her white husband who mistreated her so that she started protesting alongside her fellow Mexican American women against poor living conditions. On an ethical level, the working conditions at the company were below standard, and the management of the company failed to provide the well-being for their workers. The extensive work classifications were underpaid, and the long hours were also unrewarded, which was unethical. The workers voted to get their issues heard through a strike. The vote was a political move that showed a sense of democracy among the immigrants. The voting displayed the age at which the politicians of the nation stuck. The court also considered views of a designated jury that gave ruling to increase the salaries of the workers and improve living conditions at workers’ homesteads. The film revolves around issues that are evident in the current society. Issues of racism continue to raise controversial debates across the nation. Immigrants of the Mexican origin face discrimination, and they are usually suspected of a crime in communities where they live across the US. The problem seems to pass from generation to generation since the Mexican American community continues to be the target for drug peddling and other social crimes because of the predecessors. 

In conclusion, the issues displayed in the two films are similar in that they focus on the immigrants of the Mexican community. The two communities are faced with the challenges of integrating to the community because of social, ethical, and political issues that obstruct the immigrants. The plight of the Mexican American community presented in the film shows the state of most immigrants in the current society. The workers strike and receive an injunction that stops their protests, but their wives take their role and protest against their living condition. The film Zoot Suit Riots also highlights the plight of immigrants. The film is about the life of the youth from the Mexican American community in Los Angeles. The young Mexican Americans riot because of the injustice that was committed against one of them based on race. The political and social issues come to play when the young Mexican Americans reinvent themselves and start a new era of young men that are ready to fight unlike their parents. Their plight and racial tension shows the difficulties that the immigrants experience compared to the Anglo-Americans who in both accounts tend to reign over the rest of the American community. The riots in both films seem to be generated by the underlying dissatisfaction with the treatment from the Anglo-Americans. The immirants have been reduced to second class citizens that do not enjoy their rights as part of the American community.

Try our service with
Get 15% OFF
Your first order

Related Free Movie review Essays