Media and Race
September 7, 2014
Dr. Sharon Chappelle
Media and Race
Movies are a powerful outlet to depict certain racial observations. Theaters insulate moviegoers in a cocoon-like setting with little distractions. This setting is an ideal situation to sway an audience. Movies can desensitize people to issues and shift public attitudes through influence. While there are many real scenarios portrayed in fictional film, to say that movies similar to Crash are completely accurate portrayals of reality is an oversight. The movie Crash, directed by Paul Haggis, is an attempt to accurately portray the various racial, ethnic, and racial stereotypes within the cast of characters in Los Angeles, California. The film is supposed to be snapshot of America as a melting pot of cultures, with its complete racial mix of every nationality. Racial perception and racial sensitivity
The movie Crash addressed the strong existence of racial prejudices against many groups in various viewpoints of today's society. Prejudices are often the cause of racism. They are the opinions and images that we label to a group of people on the basis of what we feel to be the characteristics of all members of that group. More often than not, they are incorrect and incomplete. The perceptions are developed as we learn things about racial differences and how those differences are to be perceived as we grow up. Officer Ryan, LAPD officer, is faced with the burden of caring for his terminally ill father, whom he loves but also resents for exposing him to racism as a child. Officer Ryan turns his frustration with his insurance carrier into an issue about the African-American community when an African-American insurance adjuster denies his father’s medical claims. Jean Cabot forms her perceptions of Daniel as a Hispanic gang-banger as method of personal protection based on the traumatic experience of the car-jacking earlier in the film. She develops a prejudice against all people of color. There are several ways in which people perceive racial differences. We build our perceptions of other cultures through our environment and racial norms. The way we view things depends on our own racial conditioning and what we were taught. From a young age, we absorb messages from racial surroundings and avoid the things we do not understand. The instance of an Asian woman being involved in a car accident also plays to a racial perception of this specific group of people as bad drivers. This stereotype has been perpetuated as truth due to people’s perception and vulnerability to stereotype and influence. Characters overcome racial barriers
In the movie Crash, the racial misunderstandings are what seem to tie the characters together in the end (Haggis, 2004). Some of the most controversial racial stereotypes are portrayed throughout the 90 minute duration of the movie. The characters seem to realize the racial bias and dependence upon stereotypes. There would be redemption for a select few. Officer Ryan is given an opportunity to combat his own stereotype. He has the chance to prove that he is not the stereotypical, white, racist cop when he is called upon to save the woman whom he had violated earlier in the movie during a traffic stop. This woman and her husband did not fit the racial stereotypes that Officer Ryan labeled them with earlier in the film when he pulled them over, and inappropriately frisked her just because they were black. When Newton’s character crashes her vehicle on the highway and is left trapped in the burning wreckage, Officer Ryan is the first officer on the scene and must act quickly to save her. He chose in that moment to comfort her as he gently pulled her from the wreckage. When he realizes who she is and remembers what he had done to her, he is overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Racial stereotypes and the way people deal with differences work in every...
References: Haggis, P. (Producer & Director). (2004). Crash [Film]. Los Angeles: Lions Gate Films.
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