The Oscar winning film Crash was directed by Paul Haggis in the year 2004. The film focuses on racism and its effects on the citizens of Los Angles. It therefore promotes racial awareness, showing some harsh realities usually avoided in the big screens. The film includes a variety of actors from different races including: African American characters, Hispanic characters, Asian and, also actors from Persia. Paul Haggis engages the viewers to identify with the characters psychologically by depicting the characters change throughout the film and explaining the reasons for these changes. At the beginning of the film, there were characters who exhibited bad characteristics such as racism, cruelty and paranoia but later changed to acceptance, remorse and serenity characteristics.
Officer Ryan is initially extremely racist in his encounters with the African Americans. The first scene that displays his racist attitude is when he pulls over Cameron and his wife, Christine. In the incident, he openly molests Christine in front of her husband because of his deep hatred towards the blacks while pretending to check her up for weapons. He is an arrogant character, believing he is better than everyone else, which is characterized by his natural physique. Psychologically, Officer Ryan can initially be described as a white supremacist since he believes that his power comes from his ethnic background and his occupation as a police officer enables him to use his power for the wrong purposes. He, however, changed his perception of the African American community later in the film. This is evident in the scene where he risks his life to save an African American woman, Christine, who was involved in crash. He accepts the African American community because he had previously not had an encounter with the good people from the community. In his line of work, he was dealing with the stereotypic black people.
Officer Hansen, however, was initially a good character who later displayed his bad characteristics. He initially portrays a common white man who treats everyone equally, accepting them for who they are regardless of the skin color. Being new in the task force, he initially did not have any interactive experience with different groups in his lifetime. In the scene where Officer Ryan pulls over Cameron and Christine, Officer Hansen is exposed to racism for the first time and vows to balance the inequality in the system. He accepts his inability to change the situation when he confronts his superior officer, who is black about Officer Ryan's behavior and the officer does nothing to help the situation because of fear of losing his job. He therefore decides to flow with the system especially after a firm handshake from Officer Ryan informing him that the system will eventually change his perceptive on the African Americans. His change of character is later evident when he gets called to a disturbing scene involving African American car hijackers, Peter and Anthony. The one getting robbed was Cameron, whom he had an encounter with earlier in the film. Officer Hansen, gets in a confusingly heated argument with the hijacker, who was Anthony's friend and ends up shooting him intentionally and setting his car on fire, leaving his body by the side of the road which shows his attitude change towards the African American.
In the film, Jean appears to have a very contented life with her husband. Her character was initially bad but later changes to good. Initially, she portrays ethnocentrism, racism and pride according to the different interactions she has with the other characters. This is evident in the first scene where she is walking down the street with her husband along two other African Americans. She clearly shows she is racist by assuming that the two men intended to harm her. She then attempts to hide her expensive ring assuming that the African American would rob her if they see the ring. The second scene displaying her racist nature is when she treats her Hispanic maid with disrespect after a mugging incident. This is because after being held at gun point with the two African American men who stole their SUV; her ethnocentrism escalates to another level and hence treats everyone who is not from her white culture cruelly, believing they were inferior. She also shows her ethnocentric nature when she judges the locksmith, who is Hispanic, before knowing him well. She is quick to assume that he might belong to a gang group and might come back to rob them again since he had a copy of their household keys. The film later explains the main reason for Jeans inferior treatments to the non- white people and attributes her racist behavior to the fact that she was frustrated in her marriage. Her lonely life makes her angry at the other races, when in fact she was only angry with herself. After falling down the stairs, her compassionate maid takes care of her, making her realize that she was her only friend. She later re-evaluates her behavior towards other people, and decides to change for the best. She accepts all races as equals, resolving to improve the way she treats them which makes her have a different outlook in life.
Anthony's character in the film changes from bad to good. Initially, he used to steal cars along with his friend Peter later selling them to make a living. He psychologically tries to prove that he is not among the stereotype black male thugs throughout the film. He is older and has more experience than Peter, making him more dominant in the friendship. He hates going through humiliation as a black man and they therefore mainly dominate the white streets You don't have any idea why they put great big windows on busses, one reason only, to humiliate the people of color riding them. His first scene is when he encounters Jean, a white woman, who is scared because of their appearance and dressing. Anthony believes that racism is more implied than talked about directly. His character is, however, ironical because despite the fact that he wants to be seen as a law-abiding citizen, his actions are not aligned with his desired character. They end up robbing Jean together with her husband at gun point, displaying the stereotypic behavior of the African American. He decides to change his character when in an attempt to steal a Lincoln Navigator, he runs into Cameron's car. He is hit with reality when he realizes that Cameron is a fellow black man driving such a luxurious car. The incident encourages him to be better than the stereotypic black man.
Haggis creates an entertaining movie, while at the same time producing a psychological explanation of racism experienced in the earlier years. While entertaining a white audience, he does not directly blame them for the racism experienced in the white-dominant culture. Stating the various reasons why the whites were treating the blacks the way they did provided a better understanding of the movie. In addition to that, he brought out both natures of all races in the movie, showing both the positive and the negatives, therefore encouraging all races to avoid stereotypic thinking of other races.
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