When culture and ethics clash, and there is no way out, the realization of humanity becomes clear in the movie Crash.
Stereotypes are defined as a widely held, but oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing, and idea. In the world that we live in, people are always being judged and being scrutinized by society; if we are African Americans, Hispanic, or White. Society has put each individual race into a stereotype, whether good or bad. People seem to judge each other by the actions of others that have the same skin color as them. The movie Crash was an amazing and powerful movie that touched on many things that have been going on in society for a long time and even now. The movie “Crash” by Paul Haggis was a very powerful and emotional movie about stereotypes and humanity. When culture and ethics clash in strange situations, reality sets in and humanity comes alive. The movie Crash is seen as a cultural artifact that makes a tremendous statement about race and ethnic relations. Taking an ethical and cultural approach, this movie shows the morals and values of each individual as well as the culture and humanity of each.
In the beginning of the movie, we are presented with the Cabots, the Caucasian family, because two young African American men star in this particular scene, and steal their car. Also, the Hispanic locksmith that is trying to make a living for his family gets hired at the shop of a Persian man that is struggling with life as an immigrant because, many white people in the area do not want him living there. The first white characters in the movie are Rick Cabot who is an L.A. District Attorney and his wife Jean; played by Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock. Jean grabs her husbands arm after seeing two black men in the street, and Anthony one of the young black men notes that she is a typical racist white woman that has stereotyped them for expressing her fear in a safe environment when she sees two young black men. Furthermore, because of that Anthony decides to steal her car. In a sense, Haggis shows Jean’s preconceived stereotypical thoughts by having her hold on to her husband for security, but he does confirm her decision when the young black man acknowledges her fear. This is not the first time “even within the same character” that Haggis conveys approval of the white characters racist action. Also, Sangeeta Ray in College English criticizes this scene which always gets a lot of laughs, but what exactly does it confirm? It confirms that our fears and our prejudices are correct, and that spatial segregation is a necessary evil. This scene would have it’s audience confused because, in the beginning one might say that Jean’s behavior is extremely prejudiced, but after seeing the car stolen, this would have viewers wondering if she was right all along about the young black man.
Ultimately, the movie does not end with us thinking that Jean is a bad person, although she continued to be portrayed as a stereotypical white, overly privileged woman who doesn't work. Towards the end, Jean complains over and over about all the different domestic helpers and how they are not doing as they are told. She talks in a tone that affirms her white privilege. In this scene, “she realizes it is not the people and the world around her, but in fact she is simply an unhappy woman.” Jean falls down the step and is helpless and in pain and when she calls her friends for help, none of her white friends were willing to come help her; instead, it was the Hispanic woman that she had been insulting and abusing who helped her. After her robbery, she now believes that all race but white are violent, but it was the Hispanic woman that helped her when no one else would. She cries , and we see her character change. Next, she is giving her Hispanic housekeeper a hug and starts calling the woman her best friend, and her humanity begins to show in the movie.
While writing this paper many emotions and feelings come up because, this is a topic many people try to avoid. When talking about stereotypes, racism becomes a huge factor because they intertwine with each other, “The movie promotes racial awareness, but like any conversation about race it demands close inspection.” The biggest question to ask is how did it all start? Who influenced society to believe that this is the way we should view one another?The answer may never be known, but one can assume that it goes back as far as the beginning of humans recognizing different skin colors. In the movie Crash, there is variety of African American men and women, many Hispanic characters, a Persian family, as well as a variety of Asians. Scenes would go from one to another because the initial characters’ story is connecting with the next.
In my opinion, parents play a major role in how their children view other cultures and races, because no one is ever born to hate. Parents will continue to share their thoughts and beliefs with their kids on things like this and it will continue to be passed on from one generation unto the next generation. Our culture plays a huge part in the way that we view people, because our culture influences our Morals. Like many people in this movie, it is how they grow up and the values they were taught that gave them the type of perspective that they have about each other. “Critics also suggested that the film has the capacity to make viewers stop and think about racial and ethnic stereotypes, and possibly do some soul-searching about their own attitudes and behaviors on the subject of interpersonal race and ethnic relations.” As the great Martin Luther King once said “ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We have easily forgotten that we are all humans, and our skin color or how we just simply look does not define who we are. We sometimes also categorize people into bad stereotypes to make ourselves secure. Just like Jane did when she put all the blacks and Hispanics in a violent category believing that she was safe as long as she was around Whites and Asians, she blinded herself to the harsh reality of the world to feel some type of safety within the environment.
In conclusion, the movie crash touched so many issues that are going on in our world, and these are stereotypes that I believe will never go away. Throughout the movie, what I noticed was that most people like to put the blame on others that look nothing like them so they can feel as if their race or ideology is better and safer. Therefore, we all have a misunderstanding of one another and forget that a skin color , or the way a person is presented by society does not define the individual themselves. When we are willing to learn about each other’s cultures and ethics better without judgment, we would be able to live as one in the world.