One of the most important issues and concerns facing our country today, and throughout history, is racism. Many books and films have been written and developed that deal with the harsh and realistic subject of racism in America today and how it affects American society and people from all walks of life, and no film has done so in such a broad way as Crash. This film follows the stories of multiple characters in Los Angeles, all of whom deal with one aspect of racism or another.
For example, there is a police officer who is racist against blacks because of his father, a district attorney and his wife that deal with racism after two black men carjack them one night, and a black man whose brother is involved in gang violence. Each storyline dramatizes one aspect of racism or another, and how different people react to it, and the reasons behind racism in our country. Crash is a well-made film that is valuable for our society because it isn’t afraid to ask very serious and harsh questions about the way we view each other, the reasons behind racism in American society, and questions how far we’ve come as a society as it concerns racism.
Crash is an interesting look at how Americans view each other based upon race, even when we do not mean to or are not able to truly see our own deeply rooted assumptions about people based upon the way they look. In one scene in the movie, two young black men are walking down the street philosophizing about how wrong it is that people automatically fear them because they perceive their race and not who they really are.
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We, the audience, immediately agree with their ideas and begin to feel sorry for them because of the pressures they face in society; however, the scene quickly turns to violence when they pull out guns and carjack a young politician and his wife, who had been eying them suspiciously because of their race. In this instance, the assumptions of the two white people were correct because these young men were carjackers, throwing a whole new aspect of racism and society’s fears into the mix.
This scene says a lot about our society and how people make assumptions about each other based upon race, but also is harshly honest about the statistics involving black, inner-city young men in Los Angeles and how many fall into a life of crime. The reasons for this are also delved into in this film, with scenes showing the harshness of ghetto life and the poverty that some live in, with broken families and prejudice. In the film, Detective Graham Waters, and African-American, feels ashamed by his family, who consists of a mother who is addicted to drugs and a brother who is living a life of crime.
This film also tackles the issue of why racism develops in our society and how those who has racist beliefs become that way. In one storyline that is developing a police officer is racist, and we see that he has been raised by a racist father, who is now dying of cancer. Throughout the film we find ourselves feeling contempt for these characters because of their personal opinions about race, but at the end the police officer has to go to an insurance company to ask for medical help for his dying father and speaks to an African-American woman at the agency.
Knowing about his prejudice, she immediately denies his father any help, leading the son to explain about his how his father had always employed minorities but when minority owned businesses began to get preference, his company could not survive. The son’s bitterness about race seems to have stemmed from his father’s problems. We begin to understand the circumstances surrounding the development of racism in these characters, and feel torn between our understanding and our dislike of racism. Another instance is seen with the young couple that has been carjacked.
The woman becomes frightened of African-Americans, and indeed all minorities, because of the two men who pointed a gun at her; yet, in the end she realizes that the kindest person to her is her Hipic maid. While we do not believe in racism, this film does not make it so easy to choose who is right and who is wrong because it develops all aspects of the people’s experiences.
The main purpose of this film seems to be to raise questions about how far we as a society have come in terms of racism and whether or not we’ve overcome this issue in our country. The many different storylines that are taking place throughout the film begs us to look deeper into racism and how it affects everyone in America, especially in large diverse cities like Los Angeles where many different races and ethnicities live side by side.
We also see racism between and towards other ethnicities: the hatred that the Persian storeowner has for the Hipic locksmith, the bigotry shown by one of the black carjackers towards the “Chinamen” that are being smuggled in the van he takes, and the projections of the district attorney’s wife onto the Hipic locksmith, Daniel. The one storyline that develops throughout the film that is the finale of the film revolves around a young rookie police officer who picks up an African-American man who is hitchhiking.
Throughout the film he has been the one who tries desperately to not be prejudiced and to see everyone equally, but at the end his own inner fears cause him to misinterpret the young man and shoot him out of fear. Officer Hanson thinks that the young man is going to pull a gun on him, but instead pulls out a figure of Saint Christopher. If the man had not been black, the rookie officer would not have had the instinct to fear him; however, both of these characters throughout the film were the least prejudiced of all of the characters.
This idea becomes interesting as an important aspect of this film because it is almost a metaphor of the United States and how we are trying desperately to not admit that racism is a problem but in the end, it really is. This is the most important theme of this film because it is the one that is closest to the reality of life in the United States and how racism plays a role in society.
Throughout the film Crash there are many instances where we see racism portrayed in a realistic and harsh way, proving to us that racism is very much an issue that is haunting the American people even today. The magic of this film is that it really brings the issue of racism away from just being black or white, bringing to light the gray area that exists.
We as Americans are torn between our understanding of certain reasons for racism versus disappointment that there is still racism existing in our society. This film is very entertaining because of the strong cast and the different storylines that all come together into a very informative, thoughtful way, but also enlightening as it achieves its goal of affecting the audience and their beliefs about racism in our society.
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