In the movie Crash


In the movie Crash, people from different ethnic backgrounds interact within a community. This social interaction eventually creates a chain of conflict. The film focuses on the inequalities that people from different ethnic backgrounds face in present day society. The film portrays these inequalities by creating conflict between people of different racial and ethnic groups. “A racial group is a group that is socially set apart because of obvious physical differences (Schaefer 5). As well as an ethnic group they are set apart from others because of their national origin or distinctive cultural patterns (Schaefer 7). These include people that are Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian and Middle Eastern. People see them as different because of their physical unique qualities.
One way Crash depicts these conflicts is by using numerous of stereotypes. Stereotypes are unreliable accusation that are made pertaining to that person’s race (Schaefer 17). In the beginning, the movie shows an upper-class white couple walking down the street, the women saw two black men standing near and she became nervous. This in itself shows a stereotype that African Americans are typically viewed at as violent individuals. But when the two black men steals the couples vehicle at gunpoint, her stereotype is justified. Another scene in the film where a stereotype is made is when the same woman calls a Mexican American locksmith a gangbanger just because he has a shaved head, has his pants down to his waist and “prison tattoos” as she refers to. She was worried that the locksmith was going to sell one of their keys to one of his “gang banger friends” as soon as he leaves the house.
At the gun shop the man who happens to be Persian and his daughter are buying a handgun. The store owner gets upset when the man speaks his native language and they begin exchanging angry insults towards each other. The shop owner shows discrimination against the man. “Discrimination is the denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups because of prejudice or for other arbitrary reasons (Schaefer 2014,64). An example of how the shop owner shows discrimination against the man is when he makes an accusation that his people are liberating this country because of 9/11. It is a misunderstanding that all Middle Eastern people are terrorist. In the same scene the persian man says he has the right to buy a gun and the owner denies his purchase and kicks him out of his store. Later in the movie, the persian store owner needs his locks changed and shows hatred towards the Mexican locksmith because he was unable to fix the door. He makes the same negative and racist comments towards the locksmith just as they were made against him at the gun store. The store owner ends up getting broken in on and he believes that the locksmith did it. Towards the end of the movie, the store owner confronts the locksmith. He sits in his car outside his house and thinks about what he is going to do. He chooses to confront him and shoot him. Luckily the gun had a blank shot in it.
Labeling Theory which is a sociological approach that attempts to explain why certain people are viewed as deviants and others engaging in the same behavior are not (Schaefer 2014,17). An example of the labeling theory is when a hate crime is committed against the Persians. The people that broke into his store wrote “rag heads” on the walls and other racist remarks towards the family. Even though they are are not related to Iranians, they are labeled as such because of their skin color and the different language that they speak.
Assimilation is the process by which a subordinate individual or group takes on the characteristics of the dominant group and is eventually accepted as part of that group (Schaefer 2014,26). In one of the scenes an off duty police officer picked up a hitchhiker who happened to be black. The African American enjoyed listening to country music, ice skating and hockey which is typically things that are not culturally popular with African Americans but are favored among white individuals. This anti-racist white police officer can’t believe what he says. “He can’t picture a black man being interested into those type of things. He misreads the passenger as being aggressive. When the black man reaches into his pocket, the rookie officer feels threatened and shoots him which ended up killing him. He is shocked by what he did and he ends up pushing the dead body out on to the dark road” (Crash,2004).
Prejudice which is a negative attitude toward an entire category of people such as a racial or ethnic minority (Schaefer 2014,35).
Institutional discrimination which is the denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups that result from the normal operations of society (Schaefer 2014,67). An example of institutional discrimination is the fact that the Mexican locksmith and his family live in a unsafe part of the city. “Institutional discrimination is so systemic that it takes on the pattern of what has been termed “woodwork” in that racist outcomes become so widespread that African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and others endure them as part of everyday life” (Schaefer 2014,67). It is not one persons fault that minorities are often forced to remain in crime ridden, inner city areas. The way that cities evolved, with better jobs and housing moving out of inner cities, the inner cities were left to fail. Although many people left behind wanting a better life, some don’t have the means to do so, like forms of transportation an affordable housing.
In one of the scenes, Ryan and his partner officer Tom Hansen patrol and notice a black navigator. Ryan follows but Hansen states it is not the same plates as the report (Crash,2004). This is referring to the same navigator that was reported stolen in the very beginning of the movie. As they close up behind the SUV Ryans shines a light into the vehicle causing a woman to raise her head and look back (Crash, 2004). As they pull the car over the cop asks the couple to stepped out the vehicle. The cop believe the driver has been drinking so he makes him to do a field sobriety test by standing on one foot and touch his nose. Christine is slightly drunk and taunts the police in which in this case, the officer pins her against the car and begins to search her inappropriately (crash,2004). She felt violated because of the way the officer touched her. This in itself is a form of individual discrimination which is when a person or group intentionally discriminates against a certain race or ethnicity (Schaefer, 67).
The Scapegoat theory is when people use some expression of prejudice so they can blame others and refuse to accept responsibility (Schaefer 2014,40). An example from the film in relations to this theory is when the police officer was talking to an African American insurance agent about how his father lost everything because he hired the African Americans for the company he had. The officer was putting all the blame of his father’s downfall on the African Americans when the real reason his father lost everything was his own fault.
The conflict perspective assumes that the social structure is best understood in terms of conflict or tension between competing groups (Schaefer 16). Crash fits perfectly into this theory because there are many ethnic groups that include African Americans, Hispanics, Asian,Caucasian and Middle Easterns. These groups are constantly struggling and they are basically at war with each other so that their group can be the one in power.