Crash secure enough, as the door itself

Crash is an Oscar
winning movie production that came out in 2004. It’s a drama that demonstrates
the lives of people from different social classes, who go through life changing
events, conflicting the prejudices and stereotypes of the modern society. The
plot of the movie connects the main characters’ lives and shows their attitude
towards each other. The main theme of the movie is multiculturalism. So how
exactly do stereotypes and racism impact the lives of people in this movie?

Firstly, as already briefly mentioned, society’s
prejudice and stereotypes are the biggest themes, dominating in all the story
lines. These sub-stories intertwine with each other and, as they go on, a
change in people’s attitudes towards each other can be observed. A good example
of this is the conflict between the Persian shop owner and the locksmith of
Latino origin, showing that there are stereotypes between minorities as well.
The locksmith changes the lock of the door, but still thinks it’s still not
secure enough, as the door itself needs changing. The conflict arises out of
misunderstanding on a language basis. The Persian shop owner isn’t as fluent in
English and is convinced the Latino man has cheated him. The next day the shop
is broken into and trashed. There are some offensive racist comments
spray-painted on the walls. His mind instantly goes back to the locksmith,
deciding he is a criminal and disrespected his family, business and origin. He
finds the address and waits for him with a gun, certain he wants a payback.
This scene, full of tension, reaches its climax as the Persian man shoots the
little daughter of the locksmith by accident. By some sort of miracle, the
child is left unharmed, leaving the man with a strong and consuming feel of
guilt and shame. Another moment of strong realization, that he is just as bad
as everyone else.

Another scene which can support the thesis on
stereotypes and the effects they have on us, is between the racist police
officer and the African American woman who gets sexually harassed by him. Her
life is saved by the very same man the next day. The first time they meet is
when he pulled her and her husband over and started humiliating her in front of
him. He didn’t only treat her unfairly, based on her skin color, but there was
also sexual harassment involved, showing the little respect, this man has for
women in general. The next day the woman gets into an argument with her husband
and in her anger, she gets into a car accident. Ironically, the same police
officer is there to save her life. She doesn’t let him, her pride and fear
clouding her better judgment. The car starts burning and the other officers get
their colleague out, but he refuses to let the woman die. His guilt is what
pushes him to save the woman, even though he’s risking his own life. Eventually
the woman gives up fighting and is pulled out of the car literally moments
before it explodes. It is in that moment that they see the other one as a human
being, as an equal.

The police officer and the accident with the African
American, who was trying to hitchhike. Throughout the movie we were left with
the impression that the policeman didn’t approve of racism as he was trying to
get away from his racist partner and protected the African American who got
surrounded by policemen in an alley. The wife of the African American was
sexually harassed the previous day by the previously mentioned racist partner
of the policeman. He was shown as a wise, non-discriminating young man that’s
always on the side of justice and equality. This all changed after the scene
with the African American hitchhiker. He shoots the young man as a “defense” –
the hitchhiker reached to his pocket to “show him something” and the policeman
panicked and shot him, before the other man had the chance to do anything and
explain his intensions. These are all consequences of the common belief that
people of color are dangerous, gang members, criminals, etc. This “incident”
leads to a moment of realization, showing the young man that he is just as bad
as the partner he is trying to get away from. That he let his prejudices trick
him and make him react badly in a very innocent and normal situation.

Crash is the kind of movie that makes us, as audience,
take a step back and think about the way we see the world and treat the others
around us. None of us want to find the “pre-accident” racist white cop in
ourselves. We are in a way forced to put ourselves in the shoes of the people
in the movie. Would we have done the same thing as them in a certain situation?
What would have we done differently? Would we treat people the same way they
did? The “crashes” that the characters go through, force them to change their
perspective and outlook on life, leaving their discriminating thoughts behind. The
main goal of the movie is to do the same thing with the audience it reaches, to
shine a little light on the fact that, no matter skin color, no matter gender,
we are all equal human beings at the end of the day.