Racial discrimination, prejudice and stereotype issues remain complicated matters in America. The theme of the movie the Crash is about racial discrimination in the modern America. Its creator, Paul Haggis, utilizes dialogue as well as the physical actions of the characters in the movie to illustrate the stereotypes that each of the characters holds about a particular race. The main style that haggis applied in the creation of the movie was the antagonist and protagonist approach. The movie setting was in a variety of scenes including; snow, fire as well as day and night settings.
Another aim that Haggis achieves in the movie is to reveal to the audience the different roles that each of the many races play in the modern America. The movie presumes that people always feel prejudice and express racial sentiments against members of the other group; they also face the consequences of these feelings and resentments (Ebert 2006, p. 217). This paper analyses how the movie portrays the African American race as far as racial prejudice and discrimination is concerned. The crash was filmed in Los Angels which Haggis points out through the movie as a fertile ground for racial tension. The movie paints a picture of the racial tensions that are rife in any multicultural society. Los Angels is the battle ground of the problems of racial discrimination and prejudice.
The black’s community is the most oppressed and the poor victims of racial discrimination. What comes out clearly from the movie is that racism is not entirely a white problem but rather a human problem. All human beings tend to react against one another with prejudice based either on race or ethnicity. Every character in the movie is either a creator or a victim of the racial prejudice of the other. The crash fearlessly points out the whites as the dominant racists starting from the racist cop all to the prejudice of the purse clutching wealthy woman (Vera & Feagin 2007, p.124).
One can easily conclude that the other ethnic groups react in a revenging manner to the treatment they receive from the whites and hitting back at them and against each other.
This paper reviews the movie “the Crash” with particular interest to how the movie portrays the African Americans. This analysis will review the various episodes of the movie, paying special attention on the treatment that the African Americans receive from the other groups and how they also respond to members of the other groups. Instances of racial prejudice against the various black characters shall be pointed out as painted by the author of the movie. We shall also point out instances where the African Americans characters react in racial manner against the other races. The paper relies on scholarly reviews of the movie to emphasis the position taken in the discussion and validates it more.
The incidences of racial prejudice from either way shall be analyzed and reported to reveal how the group of focus in the movie by this paper is portrayed.
Findings and Analysis
Most of those who have viewed the movie the crash hold the view that this movie presents an amplified reality that serves to rekindle the viewers’ conscience about racial prejudice. The episodes of racial prejudice are presented in a way that leaves the viewer wondering if he or she has can react in a similar manner to members of different races.
It is not a mirror to reflect the reality of life but instead a magnifying glass to humanity, reflecting on the weakness that mankind has towards one another, based our differences. Human differences exist as a result of race, culture and ethnicity. The name of the movie seems to be an analogy of the several car crashes that are featured in the movie. The storyline begins some days to Christmas in Los Angeles with an episode where two the lead character of the movie Sandra Bullock together with her husband who was also the district attorney is carjacked. The carjacking incidence involves some African American guys. In this episode, the carjackers who are African Americans are presented as primitive and barbaric individuals whose prejudice targets the whites.
Their heinous activities target the whites with an aim of hitting back at them. Another episode occurs in a different part of Los Angeles in which the cops Ryan and Hanson show racism by pulling over on Cameron an African American director together with his wife. The attack occurs without any apparent cause; Ryan goes a head to sexually molest the Christine the wife of Cameron in front of her husband who appears helpless at this moment. He justifies his actions by saying he was searching for hidden weapons in Christine’s cloths. This episode paints the cops a different picture of what they are supposed to be.
The cops are supposed to provide security and ensure that victims of racial prejudice are defended according to the law. When the agents of security instead turn out to be the racists then it becomes trickier for the victims. It appears like the cops would rather attend to cases where fellow whites are victims rather than where the African Americans are the victims. The acts of the cop towards Christine are very dehumanizing considering that the cop was molesting her right in front of her husband. Christine was so angered that her husband Cameron did not react to what the cop was doing to her right in front of him. In response, the husband defends his quietness saying that was the right thing to do at that time. The scene at Cobalt’s house where a locksmith Mr. Michael Pena was called to change the lock also shows a racist act by Sandra.
Sandra is in an argument with her husband Rick to change the locksmith. Being black, Sandra argues that the locksmith was a member of the gang that carjacked them. The locksmith overhears the argument and the negative comments directed to him. The locksmith leaves feeling insulted; this scene carries the prejudice that Sandra has towards the blacks and especially after being carjacked by the two young black men. The locksmith was indeed not a member of the gang but because of the prejudice that Sandra had towards the blacks, she generalizes the experience she had from the black thieves to all blacks. According to her, any black is a car thief and she does not want to interact with them in any way. The locksmith is apparently very sensitive to the racial comments hurled against her by the Sandra and leaves feeling insulted. The two car thieves Anthony and peter proceed to the SUV, discussing issues of racism and country music.
While in the discussion, they hit an Asian man, the two are puzzled by the event and instead of helping the injured victim they dump him in front of a hospital. Under normal circumstances, one would expect immediate first aid to the car accident victim or being rushed to hospital for medical check-up. The negligent attitude by peter and Anthony can be linked to the racial difference between them and the Asian man. This shows how bad racial prejudice can be; to an extent that on looses the human feelings towards fellow humans just because they belong to a different race.
When eventually the two return the car to the owner, Mr. Lucien, he refuses to take the car because it had bloodstains. The demand that Lucien places on peter and his friend Anthony are too high and can also be linked to the racial differences between them. There is also an episode where the car thief Anthony refuses to board a bus that was carrying fellow blacks with a claim that he can not rob a black man. This was a clear indication that gang targeted members of different races but not their fellow blacks. Their target is clear prejudice directed towards other races.
There is general hatred for the racist cop by Shaniqua. Ryan pays Shaniqua a visit to explain the condition of his ailing father and how he badly requires a transfer. Because of the hatred that Shaniqua has towards Ryan, she refuses to grant her the transfer arguing that the health cover on offer does not take care of the fathers’ case. Ryan is annoyed by her objection and tries to tell her how the now ailing father fought tirelessly for affirmative action to grant equal rights to the blacks as the minority group.
Shaniqua reveals that he could only accept to the request if it was the father who had come but not Ryan. This episode is an illustration of the prejudice that those holding office position have to people who do not belong to their race. Services even in public offices are offered with divided loyalty based on which race one belongs. This are samples of new forms of racism that are currently replacing the older forms of racial prejudice (Ebert 2009, p. 232). The racist cop Ryan seems to have been noted by many people who are equally waiting for a chance to revenge against his behavior. When Cameron goes to the studio where he works, the producer who is a white claims one of the black actors in the movie is not acting as a black. The producer insists the black actor should act properly like a black person.
Because of this, the producer suspends the production of the movie and orders Cameron to re-shoot the movie again. The treatment he receives from the white producer leaves him disgusted and annoyed by the comments made by the producer about the blacks. Two racial issues are clear from this episode, one is the perception that the white producer has about how the blacks should act in the movie and the attitude that he has towards Cameron as to force him to reshoot the movie to look like black. At the same incidence, Cameron’s wife Christine arrives and reminds him of the previous instance in the hands of the racist cop. Memories of the act makes Cameron more annoyed and he leaves her crying. Farhad refused to pay Daniel a black man for fixing the lock to his door after he told him he needed a new door. Daniel left disgusted and a few days later, Farhad’s shop was wrecked and labeled with racial impressions in graffiti.
Farhad was so much annoyed by the act and set out to find the locksmith. He went to an insurance company for compensation but was turned away the company terming it an act of negligence. Farhad proceeded to the locksmith company demanding to be told the name of the fellow who had fixed the lock to his shop but the company refused to disclose the name to him. Farhad wanted to launch revenge to Daniel for the racist illustrations and the wrecking of his shop. Racial prejudice is revealed in the decision that the locksmith takes to put racist illustrations on the shop as revenge against the owner refusing to pay him. There are definitely many legal steps Daniel would have taken to demand payment from Farhad, instead he choose to hurt Farhad by the graffiti illustrations on his shop.
When Christine was involved in an accident, Ryan was on patrol and ran to the scene of accident to assist the casualties. Christine was trapped in the crashed car and crying out for help, when Christine saw Ryan as one among those who had come to her rescue, she screamed at him.
She remembered the ordeal she underwent in the hands of Ryan and felt he could easily do the same again. Ryan was more human this time and assisted together with others at the scene to pull her out of the nearly burning wreck. This time Christine was more grateful to Ryan for the effort to assist her out of the nearly burning wreck. As Hilliard (2009, p. 147) points out, racism is more of a personal responsibility and should not be generalized to a group. The impact of racism is felt more by those who have ever been victims of the act from others. Another scene that depicts the role of African Americans in racial prejudice is brought out when Cameron was driving as stopped at a road sign.
Peter and Anthony the two black carjackers pulled over to carjack him, not realizing that he was one of them. A fight ensues between them which attract the nearby cops to the scene. Cameron and Anthony take off together in the car which the cops decide to give a chase. Their car is eventually cornered and Cameron comes out threatening the cops, Anthony instead hides in the back seat. The two are arrested by the police for investigation but later released from the cops’ custody.
Cameron is annoyed by Anthony terming him an embarrassment. It is clear in this episode the prejudice Anthony and peter have against the whites, their attack on Cameron a fellow black was a mistaken. They targeted to carjack at least a person of different race but not one of their own.
When they are cornered Cameron comes out to threaten the white cops but Anthony instead hides in the car. Cameron is annoyed at how Anthony can not come out to assist him hit back at the cops. Peter and the cop Hansen meet in a controversial scene; peter picked up Hansen and was seen to be in a friendly mood chatting heartily with him. A problem later ensues when peter points at the statute on Hansen’s dashboard.
It was a statute of sir Christopher, instead peter pulls out his statute from the pocket and tries to justify how his was more superior than that of Hansen. Hansen is annoyed by peter’s reaction to his statute and shoots him dead. The movie begins with characters that seem to be all independent but only reveal their dependence towards the end of the movie. After shooting peter, Hansen abandoned his car and set it ablaze, this may be associated likely to the guilt that he had after shooting and damping peter’s body. Cameron comes across the burning car and instead of trying some effort that could stop the fire; he threw a piece of wood into the fire.
This was intended to even fan the fire more. The act was because the car belonged to Hansen who was a white cop. On visiting the chop shop, Anthony met a group of illegal immigrants to whom Lucien offered $500 each, Anthony refused the money and instead offered to drop off the immigrants to Chinatown, he also gave one of them some money to buy himself food. This act towards the immigrant left him more redeemed.
Haggis succeeded in painting the picture of human weakness in the face of racial or ethnic differences.
The modern America comprises of different racial groups from all over the world who have migrated and settled in search of opportunities. Others were taken there during the days of slavery. There are also illegal immigrants who continue to flock in from various parts of the world seeking for better opportunities or running away from problems in their countries. The differences based on race, culture and ethnicity often brew serious tensions among the various groups. It is worthy noting that racism is not a problem of one particular group or race but a problem of humanity. There is no one group that is a victim forever just as there is no group that is a perpetual creator of racism.
Human beings tend to cluster one another according to the similarities they have in terms of race and ethnicity. Some of the scenes in the Movie Crash can be offending to viewers from the different various racial groups but holds a lot of truth (Garret 2007, p. 126). Racial prejudice and discrimination can only be dealt with by cultivating consciousness through movies like the crash.
Ebert, R. (2009). Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook 2009.
Kansas City: Andrew McMeel Publishing Company Ebert, R. (2006). Awake In the Dark: The Best Of Roger Ebert: Forty Years Of Reviews, Essays. Chicago: university of Chicago Press Garrett, G.
(2007). The Gospel According To Hollywood. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press Hilliard, L., R.
(2009). Hollywood speaks out: pictures that dared to protest real world issues. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Vera, H., & Feagin, R.
, J. (2007). Handbook of the Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations. New York: Springer