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The film “Crash” uses a car accident to explore the complexities of interracial relations and prejudice. Based on the director’s real-life experience, the film differs from the typical racial tensions film in that it does not seek to victimize members of any race as the racial aggressors and of another as the victims, the film successfully brings out a different perspective where those traditionally considered as victims of racial oppression are projected as being racialists themselves. The film also goes a long way in depicting social tensions between members of the society with various social differences.
The film is set in modern- day cosmopolitan Los Angeles. It follows a myriad of storylines that include those of a black detective who has a criminal younger brother and his estranged mother and the younger brother’s associate in crime; a white District Attorney who has a high-strung wife; two white police officers- one a racist, the other an idealist; Farhad, a Persian immigrant and Daniel, a locksmith of Hispanic descent. Each minority character is introduced in depth hence giving the audience an opportunity to amply resonate with their racial prejudice experiences.
Two black men, Peter and Anthony steal the white Los Angeles District Attorney, Rick Cabot and his over-pampered wife’s expensive car. The fact that the thieves are black and that they steal the car at gunpoint enhances the wife’s prejudice against those of a lower social status, and of a race different to hers. Later events accelerate her stereotypical outlook on persons of different races. She cannot trust Daniel Ruiz, a Latino locksmith who comes to change their locks and complains that he is a gang member and will duplicate their keys and give them to his accomplices so that they can rob them. Her fears are based on nothing else but the race of the locksmith and his appearance as he is highly tattooed and has a clean shaven head.
In another scene, two detectives Waters and Ria, arrive at a crime scene where two drivers have shot at each other. One is black and has been shot dead by a white undercover police officer. It is revealed that it is the third time that the officer has shot dead a black man. It is later revealed that the detective Waters and Peter are brothers.
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The entrenchment of interracial tensions is further enhanced when Tom Hansen, a Los Angeles Police Department officer requests to have his partner, John Ryan changed due to the alleged partner’s racism. This is because Ryan stops and harasses a black couple, Cameron and Christine in the pretense of looking for the hijacked car though the differences between the couple’s car and the car stolen earlier are explicit.
Daniel tries to warn Farhad that the state of his (Farhad’s) door could lead to his shop being broken into, but language barriers hinder effective communication, and when later burglars break into the shop, he erroneously concludes that it was Daniel and vows revenge. His attempt to kill him is, however, thwarted by the fact that the Farhad’s daughter picked blanks when they were shopping for the weapon.
The film could not be more effective in raising issues resulting from social differences. Tensions are extremely high when people of various social differences relate in the film. It is also highly probable that the undercover officer is prejudiced towards the black and hence shoots and kills black suspects in the guise of doing his job. Therefore, it follows that belonging to a particular race may mean the difference between life and death. Daniel’s race makes Jean suspect him of being a criminal. She also considers those who have a lower economic status to be untrustworthy. The language difference between him and Farhad leads to the latter incorrect concluding that he was involved in the robbery of his shop. Christine is molested due to her gender. All these point to a society that has failed to embrace the difference between its members as strength but rather as a source of discrimination and prejudice.
The film also shows how sometimes people who are against the status quo and who feel that social differences should result in cohesion and integration and not discrimination, are intimidated and fail to stand up for what they believe in. Cameron, for instance, is of the view that a black actor in the studio where he works has done his part perfectly but is forced to go along with the producer’s opinion that the actor’s grammar is imperfect, and hence another one is taken. Cameron also remains numb when Ryan harasses him and assaults his wife.
Though the film projects a crashed society, there is hope for a rebirth of the same when Farhad admits that he was about to commit a serious crime and thanks his daughter for choosing the box with blank bullets hence preventing the crime. Accepting his mistake is the first step towards bridging of the gap caused by social difference. Peter and Hansen have started mending their social differences though a misunderstanding leads to the latter killing the former. It is the prejudiced Ryan who saves Christine from impending death. At the end of the film, the timid Cameron is tired of being harassed and punches Anthony heavily when they try stealing his car. He also insults police officers but through Hansen’s intervention, gets away with it. The robber Anthony also frees Asians who were being trafficked and gives one some money for lunch. This proves that, despite our shortcomings, we all have some shreds of humanity within us.
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