What Is the Movie "Crash" About?

by Carlos Mano

"Crash" is a movie portrayal of racism in Los Angeles.

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The 2005 movie "Crash" is about a series of loosely connected fictional events that take place in Los Angeles over a 36-hour period. It is mostly about racism and other behaviors based on an us-and-them mentality. The movie won many awards but has also received much criticism -- including some criticism for being racist.

Actors and Awards

The stellar cast includes Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Tony Danza, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito and Brendan Fraser. The movie won 3 Oscars -- Best Picture, Editing and Writing -- and three Oscar nominations -- Direction, Original Music and Supporting Actor -- as well as 44 other awards and 66 other nominations. "Crash" won best picture in the same year that "Brokeback Mountain" was nominated. Some people, including the presenter Jack Nicholson, suggested that this win was evidence of a homophobic bias in Hollywood.

Story and Plot

The story starts with a routine fender bender, which introduces two white policemen who go on to the next encounter, where one of the policemen molests the wife of an interracial couple in a scene where he is obviously more interested in humiliating the woman's husband than in the actual molestation. The action moves from scene to scene, repeatedly making the point that racism is universal in every group. A continuous feature of the film is the sudden, surprising turns. For example, in one scene two black men are leaving a restaurant and complaining about the poor service, which they believe is racially motivated. The conversation seems pretty typical until they pass a white couple and suddenly pull out guns and rob the couple and hijack their car.

Critical Praise

Besides the praise from the Oscar committee and other award agencies, there has been effusive praise from many movie reviewers. It has been praised as a serious American movie about racism that tries to explore the roots of racism. It has also been praised for its even-handed treatment of all races, genders and ethnic origins. The movie almost always shows a good and bad example of racism in each group. For example, one of the police officers is racist, but his partner asks to be transferred because he cannot stand to work with a racist. Blacks who use racism to justify their antisocial acts are followed by a black man lovingly taking care of his sick father.

Critical Disdain

Disapproval of the movie generally centers on two races: Asians and whites. While the picture of other races seems even handed to most, Asians in the movie are always presented as evil and condescending. Unlike other races, there are no positive Asian characters. Another criticism of the movie is that it treats whites as just another minority and never considers the overwhelming advantages that whites have -- both in numerical superiority and financially.

Photo Credits

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