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Crash: Culture Shock and Race

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The movie Crash incorporates aspects of anthropology such as ethnocentrism, race, and differing roles in society. Each of these aspects is revealed through the lives of different people colliding with one another and according to biases and personal prejudices. The title Crash metaphorically represents the culture shock we experience when we “crash” into people of different nationalities.

Ethnocentrism, the belief in the superiority of one ethic or racial group over another, is an evident theme in Crash. This belief involves judging the world in terms of the values and knowledge of your own culture exclusively. Throughout the film each storyline reveals certain ethnocentric views held by a variety of races. In the beginning of the movie, a white gun store owner immediately pins a Persian family as Arabs and hurls insults blaming them for 9/11. The District Attorney’s wife Jean assumes the locksmith is a gangbuster and blames the car hijacking on the hijackers’ skin color. Anthony constantly complains about how black people are demeaned by white people and brings up an interesting point of buses having large windows so whites can see the ethnicity of the people forced to public transportation.

Crash makes a loud statement with the amount of racial factors involved. A white couple represents the wealthiest yet most prejudice part of the film. Their white privilege allows Jean to feel secure bashing on blacks and Hispanics openly and Rick to express his bigotry over medaling a black or Iraqi man. When Cameron is told to make his actor sound “more black,” Crash reflects how race is culturally learned and not a biological factor. The contrasting of black television director and wife with black car hijackers shows how race is not responsible for environmental circumstances. Instead, differences are correlated with educational opportunities and poverty.

The role in society is a third aspect of Crash related to anthropology. Individuals have multiple roles or functions in society both in kinship and occupation. Crash explores Officer Ryan’s role as an authoritative figure, rescuer, and loyal son. A bout with his black HMO advisor leads to his harassment of a black woman whose life he must later save. However, his role as police officer is helpless in saving his dying father. Officer Hanson also deals with his particular role in society



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