Crash Movie Critique
For this assignment we had to watch the movie Crash(2004) which involves and intertwines the stories of several people living in Los Angeles and their experiences and how they were affected after 9/11. The story to show the racial tensions that are created and intensified in the aftermath of 9/11 and it shows how everyone in the film is guilty of racial discrimination and are also victims of it too by others who have stereotypes towards their race and skin color.
The characters are Graham Waters who is a well-known detective who is having family issues with his brother Peter missing. He doesn’t want to confront the fact that his younger brother does criminal activity. Tom Hansen who is the partner of John Ryan is a officer who realizes that his partner is a racist and seems to think he isn’t racist and is different from his racist partner but as we see towards the end of the movie that is not the case. John Ryan is a cop who has racial ideals and prejudice towards minorities and uses his position and power as a police officer to discriminate against the minorities he sees or pulls over. Rick Cabot and his wife are wealthy white people. Rick Cabot works as a district attorney and tries to hid the fact that he got robbed by two black men for political reasons (he wants black votes).
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Jean Cabot is the stay at home wife. In the film she blames the mistrust of minorities and the racial stereotypes she has on the fearful situation she recently had when she and her husband got held at gunpoint and had their car stolen. She thinks that incident cements that the racial stereotypes she has towards minorities is true. Anthony is another character and he is the friend of peter and he is angry that he faces discrimination for being a black person and be assumed to be violent or dangerous and out to attack anyone. He uses the frustration from his experiences of discrimination to do his criminal activities. I think he feels that sense people think he is dangerous and a criminal he is going to go be a criminal because that what people stereotype him as. Peter is Anthony’s friend and Graham Waters younger brother. He too like his friend does criminal activity but he isn’t angry to people having these stereotypes against his skin color, he believes that people are good and don’t have these racist stereotypes towards his skin color. Peter is Christian we come to find out and carries around a statue of a Christian figure which ultimately ends up being the reason to why he gets shot by Tom Hansen.
Farhad is a store owner whose store had recently been the targets of attacks or vandalism. I can assume because those people who attack the store attack them because they are xenophobic and think that he is a terrorist because of 9/11 and the rise of racial discrimination towards middle eastern people. Daniel Ruiz works as a locksmith and has a daughter named Lara. Daniel and his daughter have bad experiences from living in a neighborhood where there were a lot of guns and his daughter and him being a victim of the shooting incident (neither got shot) so they moved to a different area. Daniel faces racial discrimination because he is Mexican and has a shaved head and tattoo therefore they think those things make him a gangbanger or criminal. Ria is also a character who faces discrimination where people assume she is Mexican because of how she looks(her parents are from El Salvador and Puerto Rico-neither are Mexican places). People like to clump Hispanics together and label them as Mexican. She got told by Waters and the Asian lady who rear ended their car that Mexicans can’t drive. The last two characters are Cameron Thyer who is a successful black man who works as a tv director. The incident where he got stopped by the police he didn’t want to report because he feared that his colleagues would see him as a black person which they don’t because they don’t think black people can be successful and articulate and non-criminals which is why they treat or see him as not being a black person. Christine Thyer is Cameron’s wife gets discriminated against for being a women and for being black. John uses his power as a white police officer to make them feel shameful (makes John feel like he has power over them).
Three issues raised in the film with what I am learning in this class about power and racism, power and sexism and power and classism are first the issue of sexual assault which happens to Christine Thyer by John who get sexually assaulted by John Ryan in front of her husband when she gets patted down by him because sees Christine and women as a piece of meat that he can do whatever too. What people don’t know is that sexual assault can cause serious physical and mental health problems. In the article “The Hidden Health Effects Of Sexual Harassment” by Nicole Spector she states that “for victims of sexual harassment, the most common diagnoses are depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”(Spector, 2017).
Christine even faces issues with being a black woman because when she tries to report it and get the cops fired her husband said that the LAPD wouldn’t care or listen to what she had to say. In the article it states that “For the victim, speaking out may be challenging, and in some cases they may just really not be willing or able to do so” (Spector,2017) which shows that for Christine this statement is true because even if she reports nothing will be done because that LAPD station doesn’t care about black women being assaulted they care about white women being assaulted. Since nothing can be done it cause her to have fear and anxiety so bad that when she gets into a car accident and is stuck in the car she would rather stay in the car and die then have John come near her and help her get out of the car and into safety. It states in the book that sexual assault is “linked to rapist’s need to show superiority and dominance over another” (Fiske-Rusciano, 264) and it relates because John felt like because he was white and Christine was black he had to show that he was superior to blacks and felt the need to show dominance over minorities so that they feel shame.
The next issue Affirmative action and quotas which in the book “Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States” by Roberta Fiske-Rusciano states as being “the major government attempt at counteracting the discriminatory features of the hiring process” (Fiske-Rusciano,298). She also states that it is when government is to “encourage firms to hire all qualified applicants by forcing them to gather individualized productivity information” (Fiske-Rusciano,298) which means they are discouraged from looking at a person’s skin color or name to decide whether to hire them or not. They are encouraged to dig deeper and look at a person’s qualifications which means they can’t hire people who are underqualified (less qualified) compared to the person of color who is qualified solely on the fact they have white sounding name.
I mentioned quotas too because they are a part of the affirmative action legislation and this is what John accused the place where she works at of doing. John told Shaniqua Johnson who is the supervisor where she works at that she got hired only because of affirmative action. In the film he says that affirmative action is the reason she got hired which is different from what the book says because the book believes that qoutas are different from affirmative action and that actually the quotas the correct term John should have used was quotas. The book states that “quotas are imposed only when it is demonstrated that the lack of female or minority employment reflects something more conscious than the unintentional effects of incomplete information” (Fiske-Rusciano,299). It relates to the film because he is blaming affirmative actions and quotas as being the only reason she got hired and got the job of supervisor. He thinks there were plenty of white males who are more qualified than her. He thinks that she isn’t qualified because she got a black (what people view as ghetto) name and is black.
The last issue raised was racial discrimination which a lot of people in the film faced or did. Compared to the film the people we saw most being discriminated was black people. In the book it says that “ Hispanics face a lot of discrimination… they are now seen by slightly more Americans as frequent targets of discrimination” (Fiske-Rusciano,153). Though the films shows how Farhad was discriminated against because he was being stereotyped as being Osama Bin Laden and working with Al Qaeda(terrorist group) and not knowing how to speaking English. It didn’t state why his store was being vandalized and why he was being discriminated against. The book states that after 9/11 happened that people started believing middle easterns were working with or being terrorists themselves because of the “widespread misperception that the terrorists involved in the attack arrived on immigration visas” (Fiske-Rusciano,167).
People went after middle easterns and ones who had trouble speaking English and automatically because of that reason came here on a visa. They don’t think about the fact that middle eastern people can be born in the U.S and be a U.S citizen who didn’t come on an immigration visa. Farhad even had the tell the guy who discriminated against that he was born here and have rights just like everyone else. People just automatically assume when they see a middle eastern person that they are a terrorist. After 9/11 happened the FBI did several terrorists investigations where 762 Arab and Muslim immigrants were “beaten, kept from contacting lawyers and family members, and jailed for months under an official “no bond policy” (Fiske-Rusciano,167). Even the media portrayed the misperception when they decided to portray the people arrested during the investigation the 9/11 attack as “possible “sleeper” terrorists” (Fiske-Rusciano,168). They didn’t show up to this extent in the film.
- Fiske-Rusciano, Roberta. Experiencing Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. Sixth ed., McGraw-Hill, 2013.
- Spector, Nicole. “How Sexual Harassment Damages a Woman’s Health.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 13 Oct. 2017, www.nbcnews.com/better/health/hidden-health-effects-sexual-harassment-ncna810416.”