Paper 3: Comparative Analysis of Two Films
Stereotyping can be defined as sweeping generalizations about affiliates of a certain gender, nationality, religion, race, or other group. Social stereotyping has been a worldwide issue for many years. More specifically, stereotypical assertions, based on both gender and race, have been a common theme throughout many 20th and 21st century films. Both Crash, directed by Paul Haggis in 2004, and Girlfight directed by Karyn Kusama in 2000, address the issue of stereotyping in their own unique way. Girlfight does this by placing a female in the spotlight of a sport that is predominantly dominated by males, whereas, Crash confronts our problem with racial stereotypes and racism, and the need to counter them, by focusing on the “crash” humans experience by encountering people that they actually are already linked to. Throughout the film Girlfight, the crowd may have been against Diana, but her determination allowed her to fight off skeptics outside the ring and her opponents in the ring. Crash is a movie that brings out bigotry and racial stereotypes. While one story revolves around a gender debate, the other approaches the argument from the aspect of race and ultimately both combat the greater social issue of stereotyping. The film Girlfight depicts the struggle of Diana Guzman, a high school girl, and how she overcomes gender barriers to dominate the boxing arena. Her mother passed away when she was young, and she lives with her father and younger brother, Tiny. They reside in the projects of New York City, a tougher area where the ability to defend yourself is basically a prerequisite. Her father forces Tiny to train at the local gym to become better suited to defend himself and that is where Diana is introduced to the sport of boxing. Setting is a key aspect of the film and director Karyn Kusama’s choice of realistic venues for each and every scene help create a documentary-like atmosphere. One scene that illustrates this quality is when Diana and Adrian learn that they will both be fighting each other in the final bout. The scene takes place inside the manager of the ring’s office; a small but well organized office. The camera pans from character to character as they discuss Diana’s next fight and the viewer is placed in the back corner of the office space. A key detail to be noticed is that the door is open and one can see that boxers are still training in the background. This gives the audience the idea that what they are viewing is very real, almost like a documentary, and Kusama’s film work adds to that with a picture that is both grainy and misty. The scene is also full of dialogue, which is a common attribute of any documentary. It seems as if the scene would have occurred even if the camera had not been rolling film. The realistic aspect correlates back to the underlying premise of the movie, gender stereotyping. At the time, female boxers were a rarity and Diana was an exception not only because of her gender but also because of her skill. The boxers at this gym are all male except for Diana who happens to be the main character in the film. This creates an immediate gender barrier the second that Diana steps in the gym merely because she isn’t of the norm.
The film Crash attempts to tackle the issue of racial stereotyping though the stories of several characters who all turn out to be connected in some way, shape, or form. Anthony and Peter are partners in crime who hijack cars for a chop shop. Anthony believes that society is unfairly biased against blacks, and at one point in the film he justifies his actions by claiming he would never hurt another black person. Rick Cabot, district attorney of Los Angeles, and his wife Jean are two other main characters throughout the film. One scene that reinforces the use of stereotyping is when Anthony and Peter stroll a Los Angeles shopping strip. As they walk along, Anthony explains to Peter how whites are so quick to judge blacks...
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