Cultural Differences

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Cultural Differences
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November 12, 2012

The movie Crash (2004) is about a handful of disparate people’s lives intertwined as they deal with the tense race relations that belie life in the city of Los Angelos over a thirty-six hour period. All the players involved in the movie are: a Caucasian district attorney, his Caucasian wife who believes her stereotypical views are justified, therefore they’re not racist; two black carjackers that use their race to their advantage; two Caucasian police officers, one who is racist and abuses his authority to non-whites, and the other who hates his partner for his racist views; a black film director and his black wife, who feels her husband does not support their own culture enough especially with the wife being violated by the racist cop; the two detectives and sometimes lovers, one Hispanic female and a black male; an East Asian man who gets hit by a car, but is hiding valuable cargo in his van; a Persian store owner who feels he is not getting enough satisfaction or respect from American society when his store is continuously robbed; and a Hispanic locksmith who is just trying to keep his family safe out of harm’s way (Imbd, 2012). Each person’s story interlocks in some way as they all crash into one another through a series of racist endeavors and stereotypical judgments.

Hall argues that every human being is faced with so many perceptual stimuli—sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and bodily sensations—that it is impossible to pay attention to them all. Therefore, one of the functions of culture is to provide a screen between the person and all of those stimuli to indicate what perceptions to notice and how to interpret them (Lustig & Koester, pg. 109, 2012). Hall splits cultures into high/low context and describes how high context cultures use high-context messages where the meaning is implied by physical setting or presumed to be part of the individual’s beliefs, values, norms, and social practices; very little is in the coded message. These cultures include; Japanese, African American, Mexican, and Latino. The low-context cultures prefer to use low-context messages, where the majority of the information is vested in the explicit code. These cultures include German, Swedish, European American, and English (Lustig & Koester, pg. 109, 2012). An example of high-context communication; is when the two black carjackers interpret the same meaning and gestures in all their actions. Their actions do not need to be discussed explicitly because they both act the same and carry the shared understanding based on their relationship. An example of the low-context communication is when the Hispanic locksmith goes into the Caucasian attorney’s house to fix the locks and deals with the wife. She harasses him on how she needs every statement to be precise and all his actions to be accounted for. She is looking for his every move to be overt and very explicit because she immediately judges his performance and morale on his race.

Hofstede’s five dimensions were identified in his early research when he came to find which dominant patterns of a culture can be ordered, these are; power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, and long- term versus short-term orientation to time. His findings have provided an excellent synthesis of the relationships between cultural values and social behaviors, which are identifiable throughout this movie. Power distance is one dimension believed to be most present throughout the movie Crash. One basic concern to all cultures is the issue of human inequality and knowing that all people in a culture do not have equal levels of status or social power. A persons power and social status depends more upon their culture and things such as; wealth, age, gender, education, physical strength, etc. As Hofstede’s research expresses; “cultures also differ in the extent to which they view such status...
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