Living in a multi-ethnic society does not come in as easy. Often, we have heard or maybe encountered ourselves some prejudice with regards to people that has not the same color of our skin. In television and in movies, there are clashes in cultures. Unknown prejudice caused mainly by people’s refusal to accept reality as it is. As a film that tackles the iniquities of racism, Paul Haggis’ Crash (2005) is a multi-layered commentary about the realities occurring in a cross-cultural Los Angeles urban life. More than an interwoven stories of people, it involves no direct good or bad people.
These are people interconnected to each other in vestiges of crime, racism, corruption, obligation, indignation and chance over a two-day period. The storyline superimposes the complexity of the multifaceted narratives of their lives entwined under the numerous social and psychological issues usually hidden inside the closet of the American consciousness. Although briefly showcased, Sandra Bullock portrays one of the more interesting characters in the film. In Crash, she is Jean, a heavily repressed and unhappy upper class wife of LA’s district attorney.
Early in the film, she was traumatized when two black men held her at gunpoint with her husband Richard (Brendan Fraser), as they were taking away their car. After the incident, she begins her paranoia about her safety and people around her. She hyperventilated that she wants her locks at home re-done, after she had seen the Latino locksmith’s tattoos. Clearly, the incident had bolstered her pre-conceived biases and discrimination to colored people around her, and she did not bat an eyelash that her maid, her husband’s assistants and the locksmith overheard her racial slurs.
She said that she was angry why she deserved to experience such violence. Her only fault, according to her, was when she saw the two black guys, she looked and turned away from them and then they attacked her: “That makes me a racist! ” As such, we realize that discrimination and perceptions of discrimination continue to be dominant forces in the lives of people in the United States. Jean’s discrimination toward people of color has become more intense. This manifested of being too sensitive about things around her, as simple as scolding her maid because she did not put the plates in the drawers after dishwashing them.
What manifests in Bullock’s character in the film is termed as “aversive racism”. Because of the current cultural values, most whites have strong convictions concerning fairness, justice, and racial equality. However, because of a range of normal cognitive, motivational, and socio-cultural processes that promote racial biases, most whites also develop some negative feelings toward or beliefs about blacks, of which they are unaware or which they try to dissociate from their non-prejudiced self-images.
Because an aversive racist does not discriminate with conscious intention and is not aware that he or she is discriminating on the basis of race, an aversive racist will be quick to deny evidence of personal prejudice. An aversive racist’s denial of intentional discrimination, although genuine, may then intensify racial conflict and distrust (Dovidio & Gaetner, 2004). Thus, Jean’s negative feelings toward blacks, or colored people, do not just reflect open hostility or hatred, but her reactions involved discomfort, uneasiness, disgust, and sometimes fear. However, when her character said, “I am upset but it’s not because of the carjack.
I wake up feeling like this every morning. I am angry but I don’t know why. ” She begins to reflect about her irrational reactions. This reflection was substantiated when she falls off the stairs shortly after. Irony has hit her because it was her Mexican maid who helped her from the accident because her white friend (for ten years) was busy “getting a massage. ” She was very thankful to the maid that she hugged her as she arrived at the realization about the people and things that matter most. This erased all her unknown fears about some people who are not inherently bad.
As a mirror of the archetypes that persist in American society, Crash presented a consciousness about the interconnectedness of people and the situations that made them come up with their own realizations, which was sort of therapeutic for them to rid off their biases. As such, the film invites its viewers to come up with their own realizations about the contemporary cross-section of American society and provide a space about perspectives on how to deal with their own prejudices. References Dovidio, J. F. and Gaetner, S. L. (2004). Aversive Racism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 36.