Intercultural Contact Essay

Topics: Ethnic group, Race and Ethnicity, Stereotype Pages: 5 (1610 words) Published: April 24, 2013
Intercultural Contact Essay
I have chosen the movie “Crash” seen in class as the subject of my intercultural contact essay (Haggis, 2004). Following a brief summary of movie, I will discuss the terms learned from intercultural communication course at George Mason University and apply them to various scenes in the movie, highlighting the cultural insensitivity characters portray towards members within their ethnic community and those who come from a different ethnic background. Brief Summary of the Text

The film “Crash” is focused on the racial and social tensions that exist among people from different ethnicities. Set in Los Angeles, California, the film depicts constant metaphoric and physical clashes among members of the black, white, Hispanic, Persian and Asian Community. The film interweaves stories of its main characters among each other, which includes a police detective, his ill mother with a drug problem, two thieves, a district attorney and his wife, a locksmith and his family, two cops and their supervisor, a Hollywood director and his wife, and an immigrant shopkeeper, his wife and his daughter. In the clashes of ideas and values that take place among these characters, the audiences see the racial stereotypes and prejudice in play that people of various ethnicities express for other members, who may or may not share a similar ethnic bond or cultural values. Actors and actresses are seen generalizing their opinions, often coming to wrong conclusions about others based on looks and clothing. Unable to communicate and afraid of their own fears, people begin to blame others for their hardships and things that are wrong in the society. False accusations and misleading truths exacerbate the gap that already exists among these people of various ethnicities, leading to heightened tensions and more cultural clashes. Hatred, anger, guilt, compassion, kindness, and a multitude of other emotions are seen throughout the movie. Application of Theories and Terms

Though I have previously seen the movie “Crash” I did not previously realize that it was highlighting the intercultural conflict and tensions that is experienced by living in an ethnically and culturally diverse community (Haggis, 2004). Throughout the movie, several theories and terms from intercultural communication can be applied to various scenes. First, the concept of Ingroup-Outgroup is prevalent in the movie. To briefly define these terms, “Ingroups are groups with whom we feel emotionally close” while “Outgroups are groups with whom we feel no emotional ties” (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2012). The two thieves considered everyone, including members of the black community, as part of outgroup. One of the thief would always condone his other thief friend for liking hockey, considered to be a white man’s sport. He would also rebel from travelling in the bus, claiming that the big windows on the bus are meant to degrade the black community. His initial perception of everyone as part of the outgroup lead him have a very negative outlook on life. Generalizations were made about people, leading to false accusations. For example, when a Persian-immigrant was discussing with his daughter about the type of gun he wants to buy at the gun store, the gun seller became annoyed from the internal conversation and called him “Osama,” labeling him as a member of a terrorist organization based on his language. Later in the movie, when the Persian-immigrant’s shop is ransacked, his wife is seen erasing graffiti which labeled them as Arabs. Additionally, when one of the thieves discovers a few Cambodian slaves locked inside a van, a comment is passed about these slaves as being a “different kind of Chinamen.” Associating everyone who is from the East and may have similar physical features to those of native Chinese under the umbrella of Chinese origin is also an example of generalization. “Prejudice is an individual’s feeling and predispositions toward...
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