One must never judge or discriminate a person based on their physical attributes. Prejudice and discrimination directed against someone of a different race is known as racism. It is evident in the movie “Crash” directed by Paul Haggis, that people misconceive others due to judgement on their physical traits. Throughout the movie, the characters living in Los Angeles face the challenges of fitting in a town populated by people of different colours. The offenders are the “white” people whereas the victims are everyone else.
The presence of racism is the main cause of every conflict that occurs in the movie. The majority of the racism involved in the movie is towards the negro population. They are perceived as thugs, thieves and murderers. In the beginning of the movie, two black friends, Anthony and Peter, are walking in a strictly “white” neighbourhood feeling discriminated as they chat amongst themselves, being racist towards white people. They mention how they are seen from a white person’s point of view and at that moment, Jean Cabot and her husband walk towards their car.
The two pull out their guns and aim at their heads, taking away their vehicle. The two boys are dressed in baggy sweaters, displaying a thuggish style, which provokes Jean’s judgement on them. Anthony has cornrows and Peter is wearing a toque, as they walk with “swag”. Later on, Jean snaps at her husband and mentions how she was already aware that the two black friends were going to steal their car 10 seconds before it actually happened, based on their physical appearance. Racism towards black people is also highlighted through the character of Officer John Ryan.
As Ryan is driving, he is told on the radio, that a car has been stolen, Jean Cabot’s car, and another car of the same model is driving ahead of Ryan. Knowing that the vehicle in front of him isn’t the stolen car, Ryan makes the driver, a black man, pull over and he molests his wife, leaving them humiliated, which creates a drift in the married couple’s relationship. Cameron, the black driver that was pulled over by Officer Ryan, remains quiet while his wife is being touched by the officer because he is afraid. If he speaks up, not only will he put in jail but he will also be humiliated if his colleagues find out.
Racism isn’t only towards the black population of the town, it is demonstrated in many other ethnicities as well. Jean Cabot is a woman who believes her race, white, is superior than any other race including black and hispanic. Jean is also very rude towards her maid Maria, and she gets angry at her over the littlest things. She is also convinced that mexicans are gangsters so, when Daniel is changing the locks at her house, she demands that they get redone the next day, fearing that Daniel will sell a copy of her house keys to one of his gangster friends.
Farhad, a persian man with a strong accent, is also humiliated by a gun store owner when he’s trying to buy a gun. The victims of racism realize that the behaviour towards them is unfair so they find ways to stand up for themselves. Cameron, with his marriage life a stake, snaps at police officers when he is pulled over once again. Officer Tom Hansen saves Cameron’s life otherwise, the other police officers would’ve shot him. Cameron was once mistreated which shook his family life and created a gap between him and his wife therefore, he didn’t want the white people to take control of his life.
Daniel, who was always mistaken for a gangster was finally fed up with it. As he was fixing the locks of Farhad’s store, Farhad calls him a cheater because he thought Daniel didn’t do his job. Daniel doesn’t take the money from Farhad and leaves, having done his job properly, yet Farhad believes that Daniel is a liar. Not only do the victims stand up for themselves but the offenders also realize the grave mistake they were making by judging people based on their looks.
Officer Ryan sees an accident and as a police officer, it is his job to rescue the injured people. When he goes to save the person in the car, he sees that it’s Cameron’s wife, the woman he molested earlier. She doesn’t want him touching her because he is the cause of her marital problems. After rescuing her, almost sacrificing his own life, he realizes that he was wrong about mistreating her earlier. Jean Cabot, the egotistical woman, falls down a flight of stairs, spraining her ankle and Maria, her maid she mistreated, helps her and takes her to the hospital.
Jean, a lonely woman with fake friends, then realizes that the only person who’s true to you is the person who stands by you in the hard times, not the good times. She hugs Maria and tells her that she is her best friend. Throughout the entire movie, the only person who hadn’t discriminated anyone based on physical appearance was officer Tom Hansen. After watching Officer Ryan molest Christine, Cameron’s wife, he no longer wants to work with Ryan. He transfers to a different officer because he couldn’t take the racism Ryan had towards the citizens.
Peter, asking for a lift, gets a ride from Hansen off the road. At first, Hansen notices Peter’s dirty shoes and torn sweater. In the car, Hansen is playing country music and Peter admits to liking country music but due to his appearance, Hansen doesn’t believe him. Usually people dressed like Peter enjoy rap or hip hop style. Frustrated Peter remarks a little statue on Hansen’s dashboard, similar to the one he has in his pocket. Peter then starts laughing and Hansen starts worrying and continuously asking Peter what he is laughing about.
Peter doesn’t tell Hansen so, he pulls over and asks him to leave his car. Peter, trying to convince Hansen, reaches for his pocket to show the statue and tell him what he is laughing about but Hansen fears that Peter may be pulling out a gun to shoot at him. As Peter takes the statue out of his pocket, Hansen pulls the trigger and kills Peter. It is ironic because Hansen, the person who doesn’t judge anyone throughout the entire film, is the one who kills someone based on their physical appearance. Peter was the only person who died in the movie. Peter’s death was not a mistake.
Hansen intended to kill Peter but only because of the way he was presenting himself and the way he was dressed. Anyone could’ve been mistaken but Hansen, amongst all the other characters, was least likely. Racism was one of the main themes that Paul Haggis was trying to show the viewers. Throughout the movie we see how citizens are discriminated, classified and generalized based on their physical traits. We also see how different cultures try to make other cultures inferior to them. Racism also shows a person’s tolerance and how they cope with difficult stages in life and what it takes to make them lose all their patience.
People also reach a certain limit of disrespecting others and what triggers their conscience to finally be aware of the way they have mistreated the people around them is also evident in the movie. Racism is an issue that has been going on in the world for over a hundred years and it still exists today. In order to break the cycle of racism, we must seek into ourselves and think before discriminating others because someday, we can also be discriminated. Our world is filled with different cultures, people and colours, but at the end of the day, we are all human.