The film Crash by Paul Haggis is a film involving issues of race and gender, which is viewed through the intersecting lives of strangers seen through an auto accident/crash in Los Angeles which opens the film. This film is trying to symbolize what goes on in the world today in regards to racism and stereotypes. Paul Haggis tries to make a point on how societies view themselves and others in the world based on there ethnicities. This movie intertwines several different people's lives, all different races, with different types of beliefs. Such ethnicities include Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Middle Eastern.
This film includes conflicts on both sides of the picture from cops and criminals as well from being rich or poor. You see everyone being ignorant and paranoid of the opposite race. Through the movie you view how different races "Crash" and react with other races. In certain scenes you see how each person thinks of other races. Eventually, we circle back around to that same auto accident/crash after having explored the lives, and the racism of the characters. In this paper I will examine the sociological concept of ethnocentrism of chapter one and the psychological concept of frustration of chapter 3.
This film confirms the concepts listed above and their theories of chapters one and three of Strangers to These Shores by Vincent N. Parrillo. “The sociological approach to prejudice is to not to examine individual behavior, as psychologists do, but rather to examine behavior within a group setting (Parrillo 48). ” A major concept displayed throughout the film Crash is the sociological concept of ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism means that we judge other cultures by standards of our own (Parrillo 12). Not only do we judge others by our standards but by also believing that our own race and/or culture are superior to everyone else.
For example, Graham and his Latina girlfriend fight and he makes’ fun of her culture by calling her Mexican even though she isn't. Asian Americans speech patterns are made fun of, like the term "blaking" for braking, or stating that someone has to speak American. These characters don't celebrate nor accept the characteristics of other cultures. They only mock them, assuming their culture as superior. The characters of this film see their cultures as right and everything else as wrong. But who is to say what is right or wrong?
They fail to try to understand one another through ethnocentrism. Officer Ryan makes fun of the name Shaniqua, a more common name of African American culture instead of trying to understand her culture and/or background. “As a result of ethnocentrism, people usually view their own cultural values as somehow more real, and therefore superior to, those of other groups, and so they prefer their own way of doing things (Parrillo 12). ” The psychological approach to prejudice is to examine an aspect of individual’s behavior specifically focusing on the concept of frustration.
Frustration is the result of relative deprivation in which expectations remain unsatisfied (Parrillo 48). According to the book: Strangers To These Shores, “relative deprivation is a lack of resources, or rewards, in one’s standard of living in comparison with others in the society. ” This implies that when one has not earned or achieved something they feel they are in entitled to, they become frustrated and because of their frustration they result in taking their problem(s) out on others, through acts of racism and stereotypes, for example.
This concept directly relates to the film Crash. For example, Mr. Ryan (Matt Dillon) was dealing with his elderly father suffering from a urinary tract infection diagnosed by his doctor. Mr. Ryan felt it was more than average UTI so he began to get in contact with the doctors’ office to figure out what else can be done so that his father would no longer have to suffer. Because Mr. Ryan was already frustrated when he spoke with the African-American woman on the phone; Shaniqua Johnson, he was rude and she became frustrated with Mr. Ryan as well, and decided to not help his father.
While coming home from a party, Cameron and Christine are pulled over by Officer Ryan, who subjects them to a humiliating interrogation (and her to an inappropriate sexual search). Mr. Ryan completely ignored all norms, values, beliefs, and customs of how women should be treated and handled and acted solely on his frustration that was caused by not achieving getting his father better medical care (Crash 2004). “In such instances, the result may be displaced aggression, where the frustrated individual or group redirects anger against a more visible, vulnerable, and socially sanctioned target that is unable to strike back (Parrillo 48).
Officer Ryan knowingly used his power of authority to sexually molest Christine. Christine was unable to strike back because she could have been arrested by Officer Ryan, or worse could have shot her and it would have been legally justifiable (Crash 2004). After observing, I think crash is a step in the right direction in regards to eradicating racism, prejudice, and stereotypes. The issues of racism, prejudice, and stereotypes were explained and analyzed clearly. However, Crash can’t galvanize the audiences to take action dealing with the issue of racism and stereotypes.
Many of the viewers or just people in general are more focused on those “pretty lies” pretending that racism does not play a major role in todays’ society than to admit the “ugly truth” about the real life issues of racism. Crash is one of those films that can make us rethink what we think we know about the world we live in. We’re all guilty like Ms. Jean Cabot at making our own realities our truths, based upon the beliefs we have about certain groups of people and essentially making them become true for ourselves.
I think Crash makes you see how group life is affected by individuals and how human behavior is shaped by group life. I truly believe that if Crash were not fundamentally told from a White perspective, eradicating racism would have begun in 2004. In conclusion, “it’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L. A, nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something (Crash 2004). Crash is a film where you can laugh and cry almost at the same time. When we laugh, we must ask ourselves are we laughing at some of the racist jokes because of our own ethnocentrism. This film is full of ethnocentrism and frustration, which I believe to be the metal and glass. Eradicating racism and stereotypes would be nearly impossible task, because in order to do so we would have to go all the way back to the beginning when no race and/or culture was more superior to the other.