Exploring Racial and Social Tensions in ‘Crash’: a Cinematic Analysis

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Updated: Sep 07, 2023
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To put it mildly, the film Crash is not for the faint of heart. It raises serious issues and covers subjects regarding racial and social tensions in Los Angeles, California. At first, it’s hard to understand the plot, but then you get pulled in. This film intertwines the lives of many different characters residing in Los Angeles at the time. It addresses the issues of racism that they face or contribute to. In my view, the main purpose of this film is to raise awareness about racism as well as prejudices, showing the audience that not everyone is as they seem.

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The intercultural aspects presented in this film include racism, prejudice, racial profiling, stereotyping, and scapegoating. In this films, victims of racism are often shown to be prejudiced themselves in different contexts and situations. These situations seem to stem from ignorance and misconceptions rather than malice.

The character Jean exemplifies almost all of these intercultural aspects. Initially, she was frightened when she saw Anthony and his friend Peter, two young black men, walking towards her on the street. Despite her fear, she did not react to avoid being labeled racist. However, after Anthony and Peter complained about poor treatment at a restaurant because of their race, they did not appreciate the way Jean looked at them. To prove they weren’t afraid of white people, they carjacked Jean and her husband, Rick. The audience’s immediate reaction is that Jean is a racist and that she and Rick try too hard to hide it. Later, she admits to her husband that she had prejudices against seeing the two young black men on the same street as her and that she had a premonition that something bad was going to happen because she had already stereotyped and racially profiled them. Following the incident, she had their house locks changed by Daniel Reese, a Hispanic man. Because he was Hispanic, had tattoos, and wore his trousers low, Jean immediately labeled him a gang member and believed that he would sell the keys to her house to his “gangbanger friends”. However, he later proved to be a kind man who works hard to provide a better life for his five-year-old daughter.

As a result of the carjacking, police were notified of the stolen vehicle and provided with its registration number. However, Officer John Ryan pursued a different car of the same make and model because the drivers were black, revealing his own racial bias. His partner, Tom, tried to dissuade him, but Ryan ignored his advice. Once he pulled the car over for “public lewd sexual acts”, he made derogatory remarks. He ordered Cameron, the driver, out of the car. However, Cameron’s wife, Christine, was unruly, and she was also forced out of the car. During body searches for guns, knives, or other weapons, Officer Ryan sexually harassed Christine, and he forced the couple to apologize. Later, Tom, Officer Ryan’s partner, requested a new partner from their superior but his request was denied. Ryan’s racist and bigoted behavior was known within the force. However, both men could lose their jobs if what occurred that night came to light. As a result, Tom was scapegoated, and he is now driving alone.

That, however, was not the first racist thing he’d done that day. Earlier, he had been talking to a customer representative who could not help him with what he needed. He got frustrated and asked for her name. When she told him it was Shaniqua, he made a rude remark about it, saying, “big… surprise, that is,” referring to the fact Shaniqua is usually a Black name, and he connected her inability to help him with her race. The next day, he went to talk to her in person, but at the end of the conversation, he only ended up lengthening his list of sexual and racist comments. However, there is a turning point in the film for John when he later saves Christine’s life while she is trapped under a car, putting aside their differences from the night before. She, of course, wasn’t thrilled upon seeing that he was her savior, but it was a life-or-death situation. This event marks the official turning point of the movie, where everyone involved from the beginning starts to have a change of heart, challenging their racist, ignorant, and bigoted ways.

Now, let’s move on to the psychological and sociological aspects of the film. I mentioned earlier how most people in the film are ignorant, which, combined with their cultural biases, results in them being treated differently.

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Exploring Racial and Social Tensions in 'Crash': A Cinematic Analysis. (2021, Feb 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/exploring-racial-and-social-tensions-in-crash-a-cinematic-analysis/