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The Movie Crash by Paul Haggis

Essay by   •  July 18, 2010  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,067 Words (5 Pages)  •  4,525 Views

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The movie Crash, created by Paul Haggis, incorporates the many struggles faced by today's racial stereotypes, into a collage of various interconnected, cultural dilemmas encountered by the film's multi-ethnic cast. Most people are born with good hearts, but as they grow up they learn prejudices. "Crash" is a movie that brings out bigotry and racial stereotypes. The movie is set in Los Angeles, a city with a cultural mix of every nationality. The story begins when several people are involved in a multi-car accident. Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters, a police detective with a drugged out mother and a mischief younger brother, two car thieves who are constantly theorizing on society and race, the white district attorney and his wife, a racist cop and his younger partner, a successful Hollywood director and his wife, a Persian immigrant father, a Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter.

As the movie progresses each character goes through a life changing event that changes their whole perspective. Paul Haggis shows these changes not only through the character's actions but the mood tone, music, and settings of the movie as well.

Paul Haggis introduces the theme of the movie right from the beginning with the very opening line. The opening shots are of headlights and rainy windshields with a voice in the background saying "In LA nobody can touch you, always hiding behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much we crash into each other just so we can feel something."

It is the perfect analogy of how we as a human race deal with life, people and our own experiences. Physical characteristics and racial differences may be interpreted as two distinguishing traits that separate us. I think it's what keeps us apart. That leaves several questions that we should ask ourselves when watching this movie. What are the origins of personal prejudice? Do individual experiences fuel standing stereotypes? Is it easier to perpetuate existing stereotypes because "things will never change?" Can people battle internal struggles within their own ethnic group? What prohibits us from overcoming these prejudices? The writers of the Crash managed to extend my viewing experience beyond the 90 minute film, thus forcing me to analyze my own prejudices and racial stereotypes towards others.

I always thought that racism occurred as a result of a person's upbringing. If your parents were racist, there is a good chance that you will be a racist too. At first glance, Matt Dillon's character exhibits characteristics typical of this theory. Dillon exhibited a close bond with his father and later, we discover the roots of his racism. I naively assumed that Dillon was absorbing external cues from his father regarding his attitudes towards black people. It turns out that his father was not racist towards black people. It was Dillon who, in combination with his father's negative experiences and his own as a member of the LAPD, formed his own perceptions towards blacks.

The first scene that uses a stereotype is within the first five minutes of the film, with a white woman mocking a Chinese woman, faulting her driving for a small bump between two vehicles. She makes a rude comment typically specific to the Chinese about their lack of height "...maybe if you could see over the steering wheel". Although she was quite short, it is obvious that the remark would have come from the stereotype that Chinese people are short, which is furthered by the patronizing and insulting attempted Chinese accent the American woman uses.The film uses a technique where each person is aware of racial segregation, ranging from the two main young black male characters, one of whom doesn't stop complaining about how everyone is racist, to a character played by Sandra Bullock



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