Crashing into Prejudice
Fort Hays State University
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This essay was written for the course Multiculturalism in a Democratic Society (IDS350) at Fort Hays State University. Instructor: Ms. K. Kerrigan
Crash the Movie
Crashing into Prejudice
Numerous movies have been produced for society that address racial prejudice and stereotyping. The movie Crash is just such a movie. However, this movie takes a more impartial approach than most. The action is shown in a collection of vignettes highlighting the story of several characters over the span of two days in Los Angeles, California. The characters are victims of prejudice in one scene only to be the offender in a different situation later in the film. The stereotypes run the racial gambit from White to Latino to African American to Asian American to Middle Eastern American.
The film begins and ends with a car accident. The first one is between an Asian American woman and two LA detectives, one female Latino and one African American, Det. Waters and Ria. The Asian American lady is visibly upset and blames the Latino woman for the accident. Because of her accent she mispronounces the word braked and it sounds like “blaked”. The Latino woman proceeds to mimic her in a prejudicially sarcastic way. This approach to the beginning of the film supports the view that prejudicial attitudes exist among members of both dominant and minority groups (Parrillo, 2008).
The next scene begins with the word “Yesterday”. A Middle Eastern man and his daughter are in a gun shop. He is arguing with his daughter because he is trying to buy a gun. The clerk yells at him and calls him Osama. The clerk then tells him to “plan his jihad on his own time”. The older man takes offence and starts arguing with the clerk. The daughter gets her father out of the shop and returns to either get the money back or the gun. She then picks out a box of shells because they come free with the purchase of a gun. The box is full of blank cartridges. Later in the film this is a pivotal choice as the father uses the gun when he gets frustrated with what he believes is unfairness from a Latino locksmith, Daniel. The prejudice the clerk showed was rejection of a certain people solely on the basis of their ethnicity or membership in a particular group (Parrillo, 2004).
The next scene outlines a perfect example of stereotyping by a dominant and a minority group. It is of two young African American men, Anthony and Peter, dressed like college students leaving a restaurant. As the youths walk up the street they are met by a well dressed white couple, D. A. Richard Cabot and his wife Jean. As they near each other the woman grabs her husband’s arm in fear. This is indicative of the stereotypical belief and selective perception of the wife that all young black men are criminals and dangerous; a cognitive condition described in the textbook (Healey, 2012). This enrages Anthony and he begins to complain to Peter. Anthony reveals his selective perception of the incident by implying that all white people are over caffeinated and the whole LAPD is trigger happy. We know there are African American officers in the force but at this time Anthony is grouping people by association not by race. However, Anthony and Peter go on to hijack the white couple’s vehicle by gunpoint thereby confirming and reinforcing Jean Cabot’s fears.
Now the scene changes to another crime scene. In this scene we see Det. Waters and Ria again. They have just arrived at an off duty officer shooting that happened during an alledged road rage incident. They are very surprised to find out that the white man standing by the cars and the dead African American man are both police officers on the LAPD. This is the third time a white cop has killed a black man.
The next vignette shows the D.A.’s house and the Latino...