"Crash" Character Analysis

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Challenging and thought-provoking, Paul Haggis' "Crash" takes a provocative, unflinching look at the complexities of racial tolerance in contemporary America. Diving headlong into the diverse melting pot of post-9/11 Los Angeles, this compelling urban drama tracks the volatile intersections of a multi-ethnic cast of characters' struggles to overcome their fears as they careen in and out of one another's lives. In the gray area between black and white, victim and aggressor, there are no easy answers. Funny, powerful, and always unpredictable, "Crash" boldly reminds us of the importance of tolerance as it ventures beyond color lines…and uncovers the truth of our shared humanity (plot synopsis from film's official site).

Most people avoid discussing racial differences. Though differences exist it is not only in bad taste to mention them, it also places one in the awkward stance of being labeled a racist. After watching "Crash" I realized that this type of attitude often accomplishes the opposite of its intention, as it furthers racial prejudice and close-mindedness. It is when people do not talk about their differences that they fail to abolish them. Writers Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco confront a touchy subject by creating racial tension only rivaled by such pictures as "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner", "The Defiant Ones" or "Do The Right Thing". They then cause the characters to undergo personal experiences brought on by tragedy, shock, relief and love which ultimately change them into entirely different people; In each case they turned out to discover they were not the people they thought they were, almost the opposite. The story of this film is as character-driven as it gets and is told through the perspective of an ensemble cast of characters in a style reminiscent of movies like "Traffic" and "Magnolia". I was so impressed with the way the characters were developed that choosing one started to cause problems with me. Because of the way the characters weave in and out of each other's lives, it is difficult to tell the story of one character without summarizing the entire plot.

With that said, Anthony is a car thief. His friend Peter is a car thief, and Anthony's voice of reason. Saintly names like Anthony and Peter left me to wonder if any irony was implied. If irony was intended it was right on the money, for Anthony and Peter are far from saints. Their job is to steal specifically requested cars and deliver them to a warehouse, to their employer who exchanges their cars for cash. Considering the overall message of the picture, I will label Anthony as the young black man who instead of stopping to assess the situation plays the race card. "The Man" is always trying to keep him and his people down. Keep in mind that he is partly right, although his truths seem to stretch the facts a little too far in order to serve his own needs; His need to justify his current career choice and his need to blame other people for his problems. Certainly, Anthony needs to get his act together.

The first scene in which we first see Anthony and Peter shows the two exiting an Italian restaurant. Anthony is not very happy about the service he received in the restaurant, whereas Peter is at first oblivious to the implications of Anthony's query. "Did you see any white people in there waiting an hour and thirty-two minutes for a plate of Spaghetti?", asks Anthony. "How many cups of coffee did we get?". Peter then reminds him that Anthony does not drink coffee and Peter did not want any. Anthony then points out that the waitress was pouring cup after cup to every white person around us, not offering the two black men any. Then Peter, who is either naïve or is in discrimination denial, basically brings up the fact that their waitress was black. Anthony cleverly points out that just because she is black does not mean that she fails to see in stereotypes. He argues that she did not serve them because she assumed they would not tip...
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