The Film Crash by Paul Haggis

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To say in the least, 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. In the beginning it is hard to understand what the plot is, but then you get pulled in. This film intertwines the lives of many different characters that are residing in Los Angeles at the time. This raises the issues of racism that they face or are contributing to. I see raising this awareness to racism as well as prejudices as the main purpose of this film showing the audience that not everyone is as they seem. The intercultural things present in this film are racism, prejudice, racial profiling, stereotyping and scapegoating. In this film, victims of racism are often shown prejudiced themselves in different context and situations. These situations are shown to stem from ignorance and misconceptions rather than malice.

The character of Jean highlighted almost each and every one of these intercultural things. First, she was frightened when she saw the character Anthony and his friend Peter, two young black men who were walking towards her direction on the street. Though, out of fear of being called racist, she did not react. However, after they complained of their poor treatment at a restaurant for being black, Anthony and Peter didn’t like the way Jean looked at them and to prove they weren’t afraid of white people, they took out their guns and carjacked Jean and her husband, Rick. The audience’s immediate reaction to Jean is that she is a racist and that she and Rick tried too hard to not to come off in that manner. Later she reveals to her husband that she has prejudices against seeing the two young black men on the same street as her and that she knew something bad was going to happen as she’d mentally already stereotyped and racially profiled them. Because of the event that happened she had their house locks changed by Daniel Reese, a Hispanic man. However, because he was Hispanic, had tattoos and wore his pants down low, Jean immediately thought of Daniel as a gang member and believed that he would sell the keys to her house to his “gangbanger friends”. Later though, he is revealed to be the a kind man who works hard in order to give his five year old daughter a better life.

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As a result of the carjacking, police in the area were notified of the stolen car and told its numbers, however, the officer John Ryan went after a different car of the same make and model because the drivers were black and he himself racially profiled them. His partner, Tom urged him not to follow them but Ryan did it anyway. Ryan made rude and bigoted remarks once he pulled the car over for “public lewd sexual acts”. He made the driver, Cameron, get out of the car, but his wife Christine was uncontrollable and she was forced to get out as well. During the body searches for gun, knives or any other kinds of weapons, officer Ryan sexually harasses Christine and threatens the couple to apologize for what happened. Later, Tom, officer Ryan’s partner went to the Lieutenant to request a new partner but his request was denied. It was known on the force of the way officer Ryan was a racist and a bigot but both of the men could lose their jobs if what happened that night got out and was brought to light. As a result, Tom was used as a scapegoat to get John off the hook for his actions and he now drives alone.

That however, was not the first racist thing he’d done that day. Earlier he had been talking to a customer representative and she could not help him with what he needed so 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 connects her inability to help him with her race. The next day he goes to talk to her in person but at the end of the conversation it just ends up with him lengthening his list of sexual and racist comments. There is however a turning point in the film for John as he later saves Christine’s life when she is trapped under a car putting aside their differences that he had against her the night before. She of course wasn’t really thrilled upon seeing that he was her saviour, but it was a life or death situation. This is the official turning point of the movie, where everyone involved from the beginning start to have little changes of heart in their racist, ignorant and bigoted ways.

Now let’s move on to the psychological and sociological aspects of the film. I touched earlier on how most people in the film are ignorant and have cultural biases that get them treated differently.

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The Film Crash by Paul Haggis. (2021, Feb 19). Retrieved from