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March 20, 2006

Collisions over Social Issues in the Film "Crash"

Dear Convention-Defying Instructors,

When hurtful stereotypes and ignorant prejudices collide, a major accident is bound to ensue. Mao once said, "without destruction there can be no construction." I interpret this to mean that in order to construct (or re-construct), a positive deconstruction is sometimes necessary first . Crash is layered enough to do that and much more. If you have a class of top-level English students that seem open to receiving pop-cultural topics for writing and discussion subject-matter, you might have some success with this piece.

The film itself is a full two hours long and it took two complete class periods to show this film in its entirety to my class. Should you decide to screen this film, your students should be forewarned: It's certainly violent, graphic and has something to offend almost everyone. But, at the same time, some really important social issues are first toyed with and then brought to the surface. The narrative results in an amazing chain-reaction of hatred, prejudice and bigotry. Does hate fuel the uninformed and misguided opinions or do uninformed and misguided opinions inform the hate? In the third class period, I conducted a . . .

. . . a structured class discussion to exercise the students' ability to critically analyze the underlying message(s) in a text, in this case a film, and to practice forming an argument that they could in turn defend, and to compare and contrast similar and dissimilar characters and situations in the story.

The American academy presented Crash honors for best picture, best screenplay and best editing and it has seemingly been reviewed enough online to see that there's a buzz. For example, you can see the trailer and more for yourself here. The hard-hitting questions that this picture asks, however, are what I'd like to bring into the discourse.

For instance, are your students comfortably familiar with PC expressions like “hate-crime” and what this suggests? Ask them to explain what makes a crime without the qualifier "hate" to be any different from one that embraces it. Are hate-crimes somehow connected to "crimes of passion," if we understand passion to include powerful and enthusiastic emotions other than love?

In the documentary Process B-7815 (reviewed HERE), Bernard Offen opined that “anyone” was capable of committing a crime of hate in the right circumstances. After experiencing Crash, can this problematic theory be applied to a work of fiction? Is Crash a valid representation of real-world social conditions in urban North America or is this more hyper-exaggerated lunacy?

I also questioned the students if they had a good understanding of what the term “stereotyping” (beyond the stereotypical response) really is. I like to show them online definitions in class and gather their input as a group. Then, I asked them to explain their definitions of stereotypes - or, oversimplified conceptions - and to provide as many examples from the film Crash as they could recall. If you try this, try to have them explain why they believe something or someone is “stereotyped.” Their insight is often surprising.

Other great discussion questions that I had found to be very successful included:

1. Why is the film titled “Crash?” Is there a literal reason and a metaphorical reason for the title? Please explain.

2. What is a protagonist? Who is/are the protagonist(s) of Crash?

3. What is meant by the expression about a story: “redeeming character?” Was there a redeeming character in the film? If so, who was it? (or, who were they?)

4. What social issues or social problems did you identify in Crash? How were they represented?

5. It’s not unusual for “stories” to contain a message from the writer/creator, etc. to the reader/audience. What, if any, was/were the message(s) of Crash?

6. What is a discourse? In this class, we’ve had a discourse on the topics of paths and choices. How does this film contribute to that discourse?

The class activity will not end with the discussion. Eventually, this material will be great feed material for some interesting comparison/contrast essays. For the next class meeting, the students were asked to use some of the questions from the day's discussion and form a thought-out, respectful, and original response. You can see some of their examples below.

For class meeting after the next, they will need to form a response with much more structured objectives. These are:

1. To find two characters from the film who had a “similar” experience. For example, “two characters, at some point, fell victim to prejudice.”

2. They should then explain the situation they will discuss and the characters involved (names of the characters, etc. can be obtained HERE).

3. Writers should provide at least three examples for how their perspective or situation(s) were similar.

4. Three examples for how their perspective or situations were different should be given.

5. What can be learned from this comparison? What conclusions can be drawn?

If you try this, I hope you'll enjoy as much success as I did (and perhaps learn something from their brilliant insights). Please leave any comments belows.

Best,

Lee

*Read more English-Blog Film Reviews HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at March 20, 2006 08:11 PM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs,

I believe that the movie that we watched in class is called “Crash” for various reasons. Some of these reasons are literal, while others are more metaphorical. Some of the literal reasons for the title are all of the crashes that take place in the film. It opens in a car crash and closes in a car crash. There are also many car crashes throughout the course of the film. There are also times when people in the film have breakdowns, or they “crash”. For example, when the Middle Eastern shop owner reaches rock bottom and takes a shot at the locksmith, or when the “good” cop shot the black man toward the end of the film. Some of the more metaphorical meaning behind the title to the movie is the characters lives are “crashing” into one another’s. Everything seems to come full circle and all the characters are related in some way: the locksmith to the shopkeeper, the robbers to the Asian man, the black couple, the white couple and the cops, the white couple to the robbers and the locksmith, the black couple to the cops and the robbers, and so on. Everyone touches someone else’s life in some way. These are two very different ways that the title could be interpreted.

While some of the people in this film ended in a breakdown, or crashed, the characters mostly ended up redeeming themselves. The “bad” cop risked his own life to save the life of the woman he had sexually harassed, the robber who was not murdered let the Asian man’s captives go free instead of collecting a large profit on them, as he could have, the rich white woman changed the way she treated her maid, and these are just a few examples from the film, “Crash”.

This film also has more protagonists than most. The protagonist is the whole American society. The characters, who are all equally important in this film, are merely representative of each and every one of us. It is a fact of life that people are going to have predefined stereotypes about various groups that are unlike their own, and at times, those stereotypes can get out of hand and turn into hate-crimes. Stereotypes may be a part of human nature that will take a long, long time to be changed, however, there is no excuse for hate-crimes. The sooner they are stopped, the better.

I think that the point of the film is to point out that no matter who a person is, they are still capable of committing a hate-crime and also capable of being a victim of a hate-crime. It is the sad, and yet true state of today’s society. There is hope, however, nearly all of the characters in the film were able to see the error in their ways and redeem themselves. It would be ideal if the lesson could be learned with out the hate-crimes being committed, however, at this present day in history, that is not a realistic possibility. Hopefully in the future, less people will have to be hated against to realize that their own hate-crimes are not acceptable and extremely hurtful.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at March 21, 2006 12:58 AM

Mr Hobbs,

The movie Crash shows how stereotypes influence the way different people from the same place interact and view each other without knowing more than their race or profession. A stereotype is a way to categorize people into a “type” based on things such as their race, religion, income, color hair, or style of clothes. Stereotypes are a way to judge others without knowing who they are or what they stand for. I think that everyone can be and too often are placed into one of these categories. There are many different stereotypes in this movie. They are based mainly on race. I think racial stereotyping is one of the most dangerous because some people have such intolerance for other races and when a race is stereotyped, it is taking a very large group of people and putting them in a group based on one characteristic. Racism can cause feelings or acts of hatred or violence. When such a large group of people are stereotyped on something they can not change, like race, it is so negative and frustrating. People who are judged so harshly form their color of skin and nationality put those who think of them this way in a stereotype. It is a cycle that continues simply because so many people are intolerant.

All of the characters in the movie Crash are somehow affected by the stereotypes others put them in. The character played by Ludacris feels that he is put into a stereotype of a gangster because he is a black man living in Los Angeles. Although this angers him he proves everyone’s assumptions to be correct. He steels a car in the first scene of the movie, and is caught up in crime thought the rest of it. I think that sometimes stereotypes anger people so much that they feel they should take advantage of them. If people are going to assume someone is a criminal based only on their race or the way they choose to dress, then the person could feel that they may as well be that way and get something out of the negativity. I think this is the wrong path to take. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Stereotypes will probably never stop, especially with this kind of response to them. I think people need to stop worrying about what every one else is thinking about them. It is a hard concept, but it is possible. Also people need to stop worrying about others so much. I think a lot of the time people focus on other people’s lifestyles more than they do on themselves. How can someone be so happy with who they are and what they stand for completely without trying to be understanding and open to what is going on all around the world? No body lives their lives perfectly and every single person is so different in many ways. In a perfect world everyone would continue to live different lives and have a different background and different beliefs. But we would all acknowledge these differences in a positive way and accept people for who they are, not where they came from or what they believe in.

C.Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at March 21, 2006 04:00 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In most cases of a story, there is a redeeming character. This person begins the story by doing something bad or harmful. The character redeems their self by doing something out of character. They may seem malicious in the start of the story, but they make up for their wrongs somewhere later down the line. In the movie, “Crash,” there were a couple of people who restored their reputation throughout the movie.
One of the redeeming characters was Ludacris’ character. He started off the movie by carjacking a Caucasian woman and her husband at gunpoint. He later tried it again, this time to an African-American man. After the man refused to give up his vehicle, the police chased after them. Ludacris and the man were almost arrested, before the man was given a warning. I think that this is when Ludacris decided to change his vicious ways. While walking, he found a van with the keys still in the ignition. When he checked the trunk, he found that there were numerous Chinese slaves in the back. He drove the van to a “chop-shop,” for cash. Ludacris was offered five hundred dollars per slave, but he surprisingly refused it. Instead he kept the van and let the slaves go in Chinatown. He even gave the one slave forty dollars so that they could all eat.
Another example of a character that redeemed their self was the Caucasian police officer. At first he seemed vile and rude when he pulled over a black couple. The police dispatch had informed the officers to be on the lookout for a black Escalade. When the other officer told his partner that the license plates did not match, he did not listen, and proceeded to pull the truck over. He then asked the driver, the black man, to step out of the vehicle. The man’s wife stepped out of the car also, because she was somewhat intoxicated, but she was concerned about her husband. The cop asked his partner to watch the man while he frisked the wife. He put his hands all over the woman and even up her dress. At this point in the movie, the police officer seemed even more horrible, because he was supposed to represent good being a force of law. The public should not have to experience negative situations from the law. Later in the movie, there was another crash scene. This time, the same woman who was harassed, was in the crash. Her car had turned over, and gasoline was leaking down the street. The officer from earlier had to rescue the woman. When she recognized who she was, she became hysterical, almost choking herself on her seatbelt. The cop amazed everyone when he rescued the woman from her burning vehicle after he was pulled out by fellow officers. No one thought that he would do that, but he seemed to have redeemed himself at that point. A redeeming character shocks everyone by doing the unexpected.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at March 21, 2006 08:49 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Every so often there comes a movie that sets a new standard. Crash is one of those movies. What’s so different about this movie? Perhaps it’s its huge cast or it’s dramatic tone, but what sticks out the most is the message it provides. At first glance Crash appears to have a message of hope, but some deeper looking will reveal an alternative moral to the story.

Crash begins with an arsenal of characters and stories. It’s the viewer’s job to figure out where they are all going. Some of the characters are lost in their problems with racism, theft, or cockiness. Many of these characters undergo a dramatic change throughout the movie, but the kicker is that while many of these characters are undergoing changes in the positive light, some are undergoing changes in the negative. At first the viewer thinks, “O good he learned his lesson,” then once the movie ends with a drop off it all starts to unwind again. It almost seems like for every positive action in the movie there is an opposite or negative reaction.

The moral of the movie is simple down to the smallest detail: “evil” will always continue and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it. If it calls your name your day is done. In the movie all the events that took place were “justified” whether it was right or not is irrelevant. There was a reason people did the things they did maybe it was survival or maybe it was past events in their lives, but they did what needed to be done. There was no way around it for them and their situation. And perhaps any person put under those circumstances would have done the same thing making it hard to say what they did was wrong even though without the background knowledge it obviously was. So the question remains how do you control fate? If it’s going to happen like it or not how dose everyone go home happy?

If you take a larger view of the film rather than just the individual person you can see how this same concept was applied to the overall movie. A lot of the people who reached the point of doing something out of the ordinary had a chance in the film to reflect on what they had done. For some it was an opportunity to change their ways and for others it was just another day. As for the last group it made them worse than they were before taking the change that had occurred in some and canceling it out so that the film ended where it started off. Perhaps this is the reason for the title Crash. When two cars collide it can change the lives of others forever, but after all the smoke and dust is cleared away and the crash and its effects are long forgotten it’s just the same as it started.

In essence the film is solely a frame in time where people’s lives crashed together and in the end they go on just the same setting anyone else up for the same crash. It takes more than one to change a million and if you change a million a million more will be changed in the opposite. The equation keeps on balancing its self and, at least for the movie’s sake, never let’s one side win.

Sam H.

Posted by: Sam H. at March 21, 2006 09:31 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The film Crash addresses many different issues that have affected society for many years. Some of these issues include stereotypes, prejudices, and various race concerns. This film manages to affect mostly everyone that watches it and forces them to think about their own lives and beliefs.

There are many different stereotypes that are mentioned throughout the film. When the store owner went to the gun shop to buy a gun, the gun shop owner calls him “Osama,” referencing the September 11th attacks. The gun shop owner says this even though the store owner may have a different racial or religious background from those that orchestrated the events that occurred on September 11th. Another stereotype is shown through Sandra Bullocks character. After her car was stolen, she believes that the locksmith is going to sell the key to the house to all of his friends. She comes to this conclusion based upon his clothes, ethnicity, and tattoos, which she classifies as “prison tattoos.” She does not know this man, but she is driven to these conclusions based on different stereotypes that exist throughout the world. Most of the characters in the film are either a victim of stereotyping or are guilty of stereotyping another person. Although this is a main issue shown in the film, it is not the only issue that the audience is forced to address.

The film portrays many characters that could be described as redeeming characters. Two of these characters include those played by Ludacris and Matt Dillon. By the end of the film Ludacris has started to right his wrongs by freeing the Thai slaves that were being held in the back of the truck. Instead of selling the people in order to get a large sum of money, he lets them go, redeeming himself for stealing vehicles from other people. Matt Dillon’s character redeems himself earlier than Ludacris’ character. Matt Dillon’s character saves Thandie Newton’s character from dying in the burning vehicle. He promises her that he will get her out of the car, and he keeps that promise. He goes back to help her even after the other police officers pulled him out of the car and it was on fire. He is able to make up for what he did to the same woman he saved. Although there is no excuse for him assaulting her, he is able to save her, thus starting the process of redeeming himself for the wrong things he has done to other people.
These are only a couple of the issues that present themselves in this film about life and all the different types of people that exist. It enables a person to open their eyes to the concerns and problems of people that are different from them. All people should watch this film in order to be able to see life through another person’s eye. By doing this, a person will be able to realize that some of their actions may harm another person, whether it is intended or not. The film Crash succeeds in showing what really goes on in the world.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at March 21, 2006 10:31 PM

Professor Hobbs,

A hate crime is some sort of act of violence against a certain individual or group of people based on a prejudice. A hate crime can be against anyone based on their race, religion, nationality, sexual preference, or even gender. When someone has a prejudice, it is usually against how the person is perceived mainly by appearance.

Unfortunately, it is true when it is said that anyone and everyone is capable of committing a hate crime. What makes it even worse is that it occurs everyday. Most people tend to not hear it or they choose to ignore it. What people do not realize is that ignoring it does not make the problem go away; it only makes it worse because they allow others to have hate towards someone else.

The movie, Crash deals with unseemly amounts of prejudice and hate. The movie also shows that people can have a prejudice and not even realize it. Many would hope that after watching the film, people would have a greater understanding of how hatred can affect people. After seeing the film, I saw that even the littlest actions that people take can be perceived as a form of hatred or prejudice.

It is a unruling idea that prejudice will never completely come to an end, as much as we all hope it would. Hatred is just something that will never go away. Like the Robert Frost poem, “Fire and Ice” it is as if the world is doomed to end with hatred.

There can be several different reasons why the movie is titled Crash. It was actually explained in the movie that people avoid being touched by people because of fear or for whatever reason. But people crash into others just to know that they are still alive. Another reason could be that all the hatred that is placed against someone eventually leads them to a crash point. There were several crash scenes throughout the movie, which brought different characters to a turning point in their lives. The crash may have made them realize what exactly was important in life and that the prejudices that they might have had did not matter anymore.

There could have been several messages laid out in the movie. Some clear too many, others invisible to all. I know that the main point that everyone seems to point out after watching the movie is that prejudice is present in everyday life, it is just a matter of whether people allow it to stay in their lives or change it. Another message that I saw was that the actions a person takes can affect many more people then they seem to realize. People can some times use prejudice to try to get what they want from others, I would certainly hope that it would never work, but somehow, someway it does.

The person that came up with the riddle, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” obviously never knew what prejudice was. Words do hurt and no one wants an image or stereotype put against them. Racism and prejudice is a force that may never be beaten.

Kelly J

Posted by: Kelly J at March 22, 2006 01:12 AM

Professor Hobbs,

Stereotyping is having predetermined thoughts about someone with a different race, religion or gender. In the movie there were several stereotypes. One example was where the two African- American males were walking down the street and the white female grabbed her husband. She was afraid of the two black males before they did anything. This shows that the woman had predetermined thoughts that those men were going to do something just because of how they looked. Another example is when this same white couple got their locks changed in the house after their car was stolen. There was a latino man changing the locks to their house and the female wanted the locks changed again because she did not trust the locksmith. Another example is when the two white cops pulled the black couple over and harassed them. The white cop had predetermined thoughts that they were breaking the law before he even pulled them over. This same cop later confronts an African-American woman at her work place and harasses her for being so called “lazy”. This is also a predetermined thought that the cop links to her race.

I believe that everyone has stereotypes in their head related to things that they have either seen or heard from other references. This stereotype that everyone obtains does not have to be acted upon in anyway. Of course there will always be outside sources telling people things what is not always true. Not everyone is a bad person because or their religion or race. I know in the movie there are a lot of twists that show how there would be stereotypes about certain races. A couple times I saw that their were just communication problems between the two.

I believe a hate crime is simply a crime committed out of pure hatred for someone’s race or religion. This could be because that person grew up in an environment of prejudice and ignorance. Another reason is that certain experiences that they may of come upon caused them to be that way towards people different than them. There are some people who can not look past a stereotype and see the true person. This is were I say miscommunication or non communication at all is the problem. Without talking about and trying to fix these stereotypes it will always linger throughout the people. There can never be peace of mind for everyone with stereotypes and hate.

In conclusion, people should try to look past their first thoughts and feelings about a person. Everyone knows the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Everyone deserves a chance and should treat others as they would like to be treated. If everyone is walking around having to look over their shoulders they won’t see the opportunities that lie ahead.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at March 22, 2006 02:18 AM

The film Crash, I thought was a very well thought out and touching film that made myself think after I had watched it. The reason I think that the film was called crash is because of some car crashes in the movie from beginning to end but also how everyone was linked to each other with all of their emotions and problems that they faced with one and other. For instance the film was obvious about stereotyping and race issues. And each character in the film was guilty of both stereotyping and having racial issues. Therefore their feeling and emotions about each other that they encountered collided in dramatic and sometimes disturbing ways. Also each of the car crashes had some how played in the race factor and how each character dealt with it in the situation. For example the white police officer had to save the woman that he offended earlier in the movie, but she wanted nothing to do with him until she realized her life was on the line and embraced him. When the woman walked away I think that she finally realized that he redeemed himself and proved to her that he was not as bad as he seamed. That particular scene showed how both people had to get over the issue of race and what happened to them in past events and work together, in other words crashing into each other.
I do not feel like that there are any protagonists in this movie. Everyone in the movie got equal film time and had a chance to explain their story and show the viewers that their perspective on thing has changed from the beginning. I think that every character in the movie was equally important to the movie or the movie would not have been complete. With out one of the characters the movie would not have been as great or as touching as it was. So in away all of the characters could have been a protagonist but I do not think that their was just one specific main character. They all had a huge part in the film to make Crash the way it was.
The characters that seemed to be more racist in the movie seemed to have redeemed themselves at the end or at one point in the movie. Although the characters that did not seem to be racists at all got worst as the movie went on. For example the cop and the woman in the car accident both redeemed themselves by accepting each other and working together. Even though for the woman it seemed extremely hard for her to forget about the past experience she had with the particular cop. The woman’s husband on the other hand seemed to get worse as the movie went on. When he got pulled over by the cop’s partner that they had dealt with earlier in the movie he did not want the cop to help him in any way. He was very shut out and did not care what was happening to him at that time in the movie.

Posted by: Liz Larry at March 22, 2006 02:28 AM

Professor Hobbs,

A protagonist is the 'hero' of the story, or who the story is about. They're usually easy to pick out because the story is based around them, but in the film “Crash” it wasn't so easy. There were so many characters that were introduced to, and so many things happening to these characters, that I'm inclined to believe that everyone in that film was the protagonist. It wasn't just about this person or that person and their lives. It was about the lives of many people, and what happened over the course of three days to them. I think that even the background, often ignored, characters were the protagonist. This film was about everyday people in unique circumstances, so I believe that every actor in that film played a main role even though their name's weren't first on the credits list. Sure the film focused around the lives of several 'main' characters, but there are no main or lead roles in real life. In an abstract way, we are all protagonists in this film called “Life” and it's up to us to decide how we are going to play this role we've been given.

What is meant by the expression about a story: “redeeming character?” Was there a redeeming character in the film? If so, who was it? (or, who were they?)
A redeeming character, whether in a film or book, is a character that led a life of crime or something of that sort and later in the story he/she turns their life around by doing a heroic act. The act can range from saving someones life from a burning building to returning a wad of money to an old lady that dropped it. I believe there were two characters in the film “Crash” that would be considered redeemed. The first character, played by Sandra Bullock, was very prejudiced towards people different than herself, but when she fell no one would help her except her Spanish maid. She then realized that she was her one true friend and embraced the older lady, when earlier she only ridiculed and yelled at her. The other character with redeeming qualities was the young colored man with corn rows that stole cars and traded them in for cash. He was infuriated with the stereotypes associated with black people, but he played right into them which made him a hypocrite for the most part. Near the end of the film he picks up a van that an old Chinese man had owned, he and a friend hit him with their truck and took him to the hospital, and takes it to the man he and his buddy usually sell their cars to. When they open up the back they find at least a dozen Chinese people locked in a cage, they were going to be sold as slaves. The man offers $500.00 for each person, but the young man declines, and frees the Chinese slaves in China Town and gives them money to buy food. This was the first selfless thing he did that we as viewers saw in the film. He had redeemed himself by freeing people that would have otherwise been used as slaves.

Rachael T.

Posted by: Rachael T at March 22, 2006 10:33 AM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

After watching the movie crash it has made me analyze some messages that film writers try to put in movies, and I have had stereotyping put into perspective. The events that happened in the movie opened a lot of eyes to problems that happen in our everyday lives that we pay no attention to. The movie helped us see things we might have thought happened but never wanted to actually see it. The movie also delivered a message for the ignorant people that believe in stereotyping, that it will later crash into you.

Stereotyping as stated in the dictionary; a conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image. In my own words it is the idea perceived by one who is ignorant to someone or something different from themselves. Most of the time I think that stereotyping is not meant to be a form of hate or to put one down, it is our human nature to associate things especially when we don’t know anything about it. It is always easier to compare some thing to another. It is easier for people to stereotype if they haven’t really been exposed to different cultures and environments in their lifetime. In the movie Crash it took very common events and put them in perspective that any and everyone could understand. Stereotyping was in full effect and came from everywhere. An example from the movie, is when the gun store owner called the middle eastern looking man “Osama” when he became hostile in the store. I think since “9-11” it has become an association with any middle eastern looking person to be capable of terrorist acts. I don’t believe that this is true but I have found myself making the association just because I don’t know too much about them and it just seemed right. The store owner has come to the conclusion in his head that he is middle eastern and hostile so he feels threatened.

I think that the writer of this movie did a good job of conveying the message in a good way. He did this with an appropriate title in Crash, and the way the events happened in the movie. The message in the movie was that stereotyping is in everybody, some deal with it better than others, but it causes all of lives to crash into one another’s at some point and makes us capable of anything. People don’t always mean to put some one down, but once put into a situation those classifications, associations are the first thing we think of and come right to our mouths and cause us to react in a way we not like us. People in the movie that you believed to be a good guy often became the one that did something unexpected because of a stereotypical situation they were put in. The way the movie transpired brought up situations that someone was in at some point and showed how it could affect us later on. This message I think got a lot of people to look at themselves and got them to think a little bit.

Posted by: P.Beckles at March 22, 2006 10:48 AM

Professor Hobbs,

Hate crime is a crime against a person that is motivated by hatred of victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, and or gender. In Process B-7815 Bernard thought that anyone was capable of committing a crime of hat. How I think this opinion applies. After seeing this movie Crash in this movie it didn’t matter who you were where you lived how you lived. Hate crimes came from all walks of life based on the environment each of them was living in. It was based mainly how you were brought up in your family. If your family had something against a certain individual group the children will grow up with the same thought and will end up doing the exact same thing to that certain individuals. This is a horrible cycle of life people hurting others based on opinions of other peer pressure from friends and families don’t help you much. Hate crimes and hate is all around each and every one of us. Even the sweetest individual can turn if they are put in the right environment. If they were picked on, teased, hit when they were little being bullied, may cause a stereotype when they get older in life because of the anger towards that one individual may cause the bullied individual to turn against the whole group of people. Just because of being bullied does not make it right for you to take it out on others. Yes they hurt you but two wrong’s don’t make a right and if you have a conscious then you will not end up doing hate crimes on the whole group of individuals that do not need to be aimed at.
Protagonists are the main character in a drama, novel, or story, around which the action centers. In the movie Crash there are many people that you could point out as the protagonist. The police officer started out at the beginning of the movie pulling over a Chinese woman and throughout the whole movie he was popping in and out of areas. At the end of the movie he ends up with the same Chinese lady but this time he is pulling her out of a car saving her life. He first didn’t want anything to do with her and just saw her as object but at the end he saw what he was doing and saw her as a human and saves her life. Another individual that I saw as a protagonist in this movie is every innocent person that was having a hate crime done against them. This is who the whole movie was centered on hate crimes and the individuals that are having them done to them. Hate crimes are not necessary each group should not be looked down on just because of one individual’s down fall. They should have the punishment not there whole race, ethnicity, religion, and or gender. There does not have to always need to be only one protagonist and Crash has a lot of them.


Jennifer G.

Posted by: Jennifer G at March 22, 2006 11:28 AM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Stereotyping is when you put something or someone into a labeled group based on appearance alone. Sandra Bolluk stereotyped the locksmith assuming he would give the keys to his “gang homies.” When she saw Ludacris, she assumed that trouble was ahead. Ludacris stereotypes white people into being racist and unfair. It was weird because he was so upset about the stereotypes but did nothing to prove them wrong. He would do exactly what he was against, and would steal cars to sell. I believe stereotypes happen because people are ignorant to the world around them. They aren’t always open to different things that they haven’t experienced before. Just because someone looks a certain way, doesn’t mean they act that way. Stereotypes aren’t always bad, but most of the time they can lead to bad things.

The question I brought to class was what do you think caused Matt Dillon and Ryan Phillipe’s characters to switch roles as “good cop and bad cop?” I think the accident that the girl Matt Dillon molested really affected him as a person. He saw how much he hurt that lady and she didn’t even want him to save her life. He realized that his actions could cause someone to not want to live if he was the only one saving him, and that changed him. I feel Ryan’s character fell into the prejudice around him. At the beginning of the film he was a good cop that didn’t agree with the racism. At the end he let his fear and surroundings warp his mind and started becoming racist himself. He assumed the black guy would pull out a gun so he shot him first. In reality the guy was only pulling out the same statue of a saint that Ryan had in his car.

I think the film was titled Crash because of everyone’s lives crashing together. Each person was affected by one of the others, who were in turn affected by one of the others. All of their actions and own prejudice all collided. The domino effect took place and everyone’s lives will never be the same.

The characters that I think did not fall into using stereotypes or racism was definitely the locksmith’s family. He dealt with people being racist to him, but never responded back with anything. He was a good father and moved his family away from the danger in their old neighborhood. The one detective I think wasn’t a bad person either. He dealt with is mother being so mean to him, and continued to be good to her. He brought her groceries when she was sleeping but never admitted to the good deed.

I don’t feel anyone is capable to hate crimes under the right conditions. There are billions of people in the world, so there has to be at least one person incapable of such acts. It would take a lot of self calming to not fall into it if situations are rough, but I believe there are some people out there that will just walk away no matter what.

Brendan L.

Posted by: Brendan at March 22, 2006 12:33 PM

Lee,


There are many social issues in the movie Crash, among them are Stereotyping, Racial Profiling, and the need to feel emotionally connected to someone. To start off with, stereotyping was perhaps the biggest social problem in the film. It was a huge theme shared by most of the characters in the film. There was a rich Caucasian woman who believed that African American men who dressed in baggy clothing were automatically gangsters. Her view on minorities worsened once she was held up at gun point along with her husband and robbed by two black men. She then thought that the Mexican locksmith who changed her locks was a former gang member and would sell a copy of her key to his gang member buddies. Racial Profiling came into view when two white cops stopped a black married couple only because their car was similar to the one that had been stolen from the rich Caucasian couple but whose plates did not match. The black woman inside the car claimed that the cop only stopped her because he believed that she was white and was performing a sexual act on the African American driver of the vehicle. The cop of course was just angered by the fact that his father had been denied (by a black social worker) of the insurance necessary to visit another doctor for his prostate problems. The last social problem that was touched upon by this film dealt with social and emotional contact. The characters in the film felt like they had to crash into people just so that they could feel something; anyone would do. I believe that all of the racism and prejudice occurring throughout the film had to do in part with how isolated everyone was from each other. This alone creates a fear of the unknown.

Crash is the type of film that uses social issues and exaggerates them in order to send the viewer a message. In this case the message was to alert people of how ridiculous some stereotypes can be and how some of them can actually prove to be true. I believe that there comes a point in someone’s life when they have been accused countless times of something ridiculous and they began to think that if they will always be accused of it, why not live up to the accusation? This could have been the case with the two African American robbers. Another message that I came away from the film with is that racism and racial discrimination has become a cycle of hate. Once someone develops feelings such as these they begin to rub off on other people around them, and those who were once open minded individuals now become just as racist as their counterpart. Crash allowed us to see racism from both points of views. Imagine if for every time we think ill of someone just because of the color of their skin, someone else is thinking ill of us for that same reason. The cycle will never cease to end.


-Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at March 22, 2006 01:09 PM

Professor Hobbs:

In the movie, Crash created and directed by Paul Higgins, it was about several diverse people whose lives basically collide into one another. In the film, they are all connected and linked to each other unknowingly yet unexpectedly. Racial discrimination, prejudice and at times violence are displayed throughout the movie. Stereotypes are also clearly shown and it demonstrates that people cannot escape it; no matter how hard they try.

A protagonist is usually seen as the hero of a plotline. In Crash, the protagonist of the movie could be shown as several different people. Although they might have seemed like the antagonist, they definitely redeemed their character later on when they performed a good deed that portrayed them as a better person. One protagonist of the movie is Officer Ryan, played by Matt Dillon. In the beginning of the movie, Officer Ryan pulled over a Hollywood director, Cameron, and molested the director’s wife. Later as the movie progresses and the scene of another car crash is shown, Officer Ryan went to go help the person stuck in the overturned vehicle. As it turns out, the person is the wife that Officer Ryan had molested, but he was able to redeem his character and what he had done before by saving her life. When the vehicle had burst into flames, and a fellow officer pulled him out of the car, he scrambled back to her in order to pull her out also.

Anthony, played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, could be seen, not only as a protagonist, but also a redeeming character. Throughout the film, Anthony often speculates racism and stereotypes, yet he goes and proves the stereotypes to be correct. Anthony not only carjacked vehicles illegally, but he also ran over a Chinese man, planning to leave him in the streets to die. Luckily his partner, Peter, talked him out of it and convinced him to take the injured man to the nearest hospital. Albeit, they threw the man onto the ground quite brutally, but nonetheless, they still took him to the hospital. He was able to redeem himself, however, when he freed the Asian people, who were obviously kidnapped, from the back of a van. He could have easily sold those people to the car shop owner for a lot of money, but instead he gave them freedom.

Another protagonist of the movie that could be seen is Lara, the young daughter of the Hispanic locksmith. After being given an invisible yet impenetrable cloak by her father to calm her fears of being shot, Lara ran out to save her father when she saw that he was held at gunpoint. Even though she was young and naïve about how life works, she risked her own life in order to try to save her father’s life, because she thought that she had the power to do so. This makes her a protagonist, because with the love for her father and the want to protect him, she ran into his arms so that her “impenetrable cloak” could save him. Luckily, the man who shot the gun had loaded it with blank ammunitions.

All in all, there are many “heroes” in the movie Crash even though they did not seem like they were protagonists in the beginning. They definitely redeemed themselves to become a protagonist towards the end of the movie.

Linda M.

Posted by: Linda M. at March 22, 2006 01:49 PM

Professor Hobbs,

There are a variety of different ways the film Crash can be interpreted depending on a person’s point of view. Throughout the film there are countless examples of certain crowds of people that are stereotyping groups that are different from their own. Stereotyping means having an oversimplified standardized image or idea held by a person or group of people.

Whether or not a person has their own individual experiences, stereotyping can still change their viewpoints enough to make them become prejudice. For example, in the film an innocent couple was held up at gun point and had their vehicle stolen by two African American men. Later, a locksmith came to change the locks on all of the doors in the couples’ house. Since he may have fit the description of a gang member, tattoos and a shaved head, the woman was set on having the locks changed again the next day because she was afraid the locksmith had intentions of giving the key to one of his “gang members.” I do not believe that there is any way to avoid stereotyping people since at times it can just be an easier way to describe someone, not necessarily a negative way, but when it goes so far as to make a person prejudice that crosses the line. I can understand the views of people by watching the daily news. When a few African American people commit crimes, it sets a standard for all of them, right? Yes, that is the way people normally think, therefore this is why there are so many problems with different races or religions “crashing” together.

Unfortunately, the film related very closely to many peoples’ lives today. I do not think people today stop to realize all of the ways that they are stereotypical. There are many social problems throughout the film, but I feel the writer was trying to force the viewers to take into consideration the numerous ways that people stereotype others on a daily basis. These stereotypes can be anything from holding a significant other closer when an African American walks past to assuming that everyone that has a shaved head and tattoos are in a gang. I do not think people today stop to realize all of the ways that they are stereotypical. It is sad to say that these things do take place in our current day to day lifestyles and most of the time people overlook it because these things seem so natural.

On a positive note, throughout the film Crash there were many characters that redeemed themselves. For instance, in the beginning the character that Ludacris played was a carjacker. He is African American and strongly believed that everybody else, or all other races, was prejudiced against African Americans. Yet, by stealing cars he gave a bad image to himself. Towards the films’ ending, Ludacris discovered captured slaves in the back of a van he stole. Although he could have made a large amount of money selling these people, he set them free and even gave them some money for food.

Angela H.

Posted by: Angela H. at March 22, 2006 01:54 PM

Dear Prof. Hobbs,

I was thoroughly ecstatic to view the film "Crash" in class and moreover I was pleasantly surprised when you announced that we would view it. Crash is a film that in my opinion depicts the slothfulness of citizens of America to comprehend the meaning of this country moreover the bigotry and predjudice. "The Melting Pot" was a name coined to describe the destiny and essential purpose of this great establishment. However the delay of comprehension of this is manifested through bigotry, hatred, predjudice, stereotyping, discrimination, racial-profiling and other issues depicted in the film.

"The Land of the Free" and "The Land of Oppurtunity" are phrases both used in everyday media, assuring newcomers and visitors alike that this is a country that embraces cultural and ethnic diversities. But the question that begs to be answered is that with the experience of social injustices such as: slavery in the early stages of this country, witnessing the injustice of the Holocaust, watching the effects of the aparteid and then experiencing civil liberties unfairly distributed in this country in the phase after the abolishment of slavery, why is there still a remnant of indifference?

In the film Crash, there are many events that take place that seem to create a butterfly effect and cause more events to take place. For instance in the beginning of the movie the character played by Sandra Bullock becomes slightly uneasy as two African-American men approach in the opposite direction. Her suspicions become justified when they carjack her and her husbands. This unnerves her and she becomes apprehensive about the Hispanic man that they hire to change the locks on their house doors.

Though in the movie it shows what causes an event to happen that does not necessarily identify the root of the problem. I am not justifying the African-American mens' actions but there was a crime commited by her as well. She demonstrated predjudice in her mind which reflected in her action of hugging her husband tighter.

I believe the film was beautifully written, directed and acted out. I also believe that it was a much needed slap in the face to those that sleep on the issues portrayed in the film. That brings me to another question though because I don't believe that the purpose of this movie was to simply address these problems we are aware about. That is too superficial. Could it have tried to inspire the desire to abolish and destroy intolerance, ignorance and indifference through the resolve of it's characters' stories? Maybe in a subtle way the design of the movie was to encite us (the viewers and the prospective abolitionists) to be a better citizen; to be a better American, and over all to be a better human being.

To create an ideal environment for diverse people to dwell together was the intent of this country. Though there are many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds scattered across America does that equal harmony and/or unity? I am not claiming all of us to be bigots and anti-social people but surely there are things that as a Nation we can work on to create a suitable environment for our children and prospective citizens to live in. A goal I would like for people to strive for is to eliminate pessimism and endorse optimism. Allowing us to recognize our differences and acknowledge we aren't the same but we can be peacefully co-habitable.

B.Jones

Posted by: Holden B. Jones at March 22, 2006 01:57 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The movie “Crash” was a very interesting and eye opening film which touched on a very sensitive subject such as race. I believe the writer wanted to convey a message to the audience that would open the minds and eyes of the racially challenged. To show that stereotypes and ethnicity does not make up 100% of a persons identity.

In my own words and in relation to the film, the word crash is defined as a collision of two or more things which result in a learning experience. The film is titled “Crash” because there was a collision of several races which resulted in learning experiences for everyone. There were many, many stereotypes throughout the movie such as the locksmith who had tattoos which led him to be classified as a gang member or convict. There were also references toward blacks and whites played by the part of Ludacris. There was a scene where a black man felt pressured to disown is identity just to please the world around him. All of these are examples of a collision of race, points of views and ways of life. In other words, all the different lifestyles crashed and impacted everyone in unique ways.

One of the things that I noticed was that everyone seemed to be interested only in them. They did not seem to care much about anyone else’s well being but theirs. The writer depicted the way society is today. Aside from a few, the majority of society is geared toward pleasing themselves. Everyone has their own interest in mind which results in ignorant, uneducated individuals. For example, in order to protect his reputation in the business, the character that had the bi racial wife stood back and let his wife be disrespected in fear of his ordeal being publicized. Then there was Don Cheadle’s character that let down his family to maintain his position within the company. Instances like these display self interest and caused a collision in its own way.

The movie was a learning experience for me. Although I don’t view myself as being a racist, there are certain instances where I use stereotypes to classify certain individuals. From watching the production, I realize that stereotyping and committing a hate crime go hand in hand. One seems more extreme than the other but the same type of thinking is capable of committing either one. I don’t believe that racism will completely go away, but I do believe that we can educate for the future so maybe it will not be as dominant.

Posted by: Adrianne E at March 22, 2006 02:03 PM

Professor Hobbs,

“Crash” is a dramatic insight into the complex world of social interaction, with a particular emphasis on the inner city. It can certainly be classified as a “powerful” film in that it explores topics that are generally considered taboo or are uncomfortable to discuss in a forward and extreme way, namely racism, stereotypes, and ethnic prejudice. A wide array of characters—all from different ethnic, financial, etc., backgrounds—are connected through a series of events with emotional impacts ranging from petty and trivial to utterly traumatic; their lives crash together. “Crash” presents some offensive ideas and insults through its characters. Some shocking and sometimes violent situations arise as the cast of character’s stereotypical assumptions lead to severe misjudgments.

Throughout “Crash” various hate crimes occur; crimes or injustices committed and driven by some prejudice source of hatred. For example, a non-tolerant police officer pulls over an African American couple only a few blocks away from their home and sexually assaults the woman in the car after charging them with a minor offense and giving them a warning. His treatment of them is unwarranted and extreme, as is the treatment of many other persons in the film. Another example involves a Latino American who is nonchalantly and unscrupulously hired to fix a white family’s locks but is then forwardly accused of being a dangerous member of a gang who will distribute spare keys to assist in robbery. In most cases, the assumptions made about people of certain ethnicity or appearance in the film are known to be contrary to reality by the audience (with one interesting exception) and emphasize the dangers of blind, uninformed conjecture.

“Crash” also explores some more complex relations with characters who have sudden changes of heart, revelations, exhibit stereotypical behavior, or pass sporadic judgment. The younger policeman, for example, shows great compassion and a very tolerant attitude throughout the story. However, he succumbs to suppressed racial ideas and murders a young black man when he believes he is about to reveal a gun and shoot him. The same black man assists in auto theft earlier in the film after complaining with a friend about the assumptions of a white couple who appear to think they are hoodlums. Ironically, they are hoodlums, and steal the very same couple’s SUV.

“Crash” helps to illustrate the scary, rash, violent, and powerful reactions that occur due to predisposed thinking and prejudice. The film may strike some at a very personal level, but it is powerful even to those that have not experienced similar circumstances or events...

Sean O.

Posted by: Sean O. at March 22, 2006 02:06 PM

Professor Hobbs

“I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into people.” (Crash) The reason this film was entitled crash was evident in many of the scenes. In the beginning of the film, The cop explains how people are always trying to avoid each other. They go through their daily lives trying not to have any unwanted interactions. After the feeling builds up to the point where it is impossible to ignore and people end up crashing into each other. When the cop explains this, there are a few meanings deeper than the literal one he is expressing.

One of the meanings could entertain the fact that as long as you try to avoid confrontation, the more it builds, until the day comes when all the built up anger explodes. Someone or something is usually going to set this off; in the film the trigger was racism. For instance, Sandra Bullock’s character bottles up so much fear and anger that it was evident the day she was held gunpoint. The black men decided to target them because she looked scared when she passed them. Later she explains to her husband that she was scared and she assumed that they were dangerous, and her assumption was correct. This incident would be the “crashing” point. At this point where their built up anger collides, affecting both their lives dramatically.

Another reason the film is entitled crash is because throughout the film there are a series of car accidents. The title and the car accidents are symbolic to what “crash” is intended to mean. The first car accident is when the hijackers run over the Chinese man. The second car accident is when the women molested by the cop flips her car. The third is at the conclusion of the movie when the clinic secretary is rear ended. Each one of these accidents was significant in the plot of the movie. The hijacker returns to the van where he hit the Chinese man and finds slaves in the back. The women who flipped her car is confronted by the cop who molested her, but he rescues her from her exploding vehicle. The woman who was rear ended displays she is racist, even though she was a target of racism.

This film is intended to relay a message to the audience/viewer. The message in this film is evident through all of the characters’ conflicts. The message from the creators is for people to be aware of the stereotyping and racism that occurs in our lives. Not only does the film show the negative effects of the racist but it includes how it affects the victims’ outlook on it. The films message was to inform the audience on these issues in different scenarios. For example, the man who was so tolerant while the police molested his wife snapped when he got into another predicament with the police. He refused to let the police take advantage of him again so he resisted their instructions. The perverted officer’s partner was there for the scene and he talked the man out of his aggression. In this example the man was ridiculed and taken advantage of by the police. He obeyed their orders and allowed his wife to be traumatized. Because of this incident, his relationship with is wife was destroyed and he was no longer tolerant to the police force. The racism he was subjected to did not only have a negative affect on his life, but it made him react to the incident, causing him to project a negative view towards the police force.

S.Velkoff

Posted by: Samantha V. at March 22, 2006 03:54 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Crash is a movie about prejudice, and in this movie there were a lot of individuals who were prejudice against different groups of individuals over different things. Two characters in this movie that had similar experiences were the police officer who in the beginning pulled over a Chinese individual and frisked her and the woman who had the maid in her household. Each of these individuals were from two separate walks of life. One of them were supposedly protecting our environment and the other in the world from violence and the other was a rich woman who just didn’t care about here maids feelings. Similarities of these two characters are as followed. In the beginning of the movie each of these individuals saw a certain group of individuals as lower standards then they are. They had something totally against them. The police officer had a prejudice against the girl just because of her race and so did the woman with the maid she had a prejudice against her maid because of her race also. Another similarity that these two characters had was they had an event that happened to them to cause them to see things differently. The rich woman fell down the stairs of her house and could not reach the phone to call for help. Her husband didn’t return home when he was suppose to and the maid was the first to come home and find her lying on the floor the maid ended up taking her to the hospital. Without the maid she would have still been at the bottom of the steps needing help. The police officer’s eye opener came when he went to the dr.’s to try to gain medication for his father and the woman was black. The woman wouldn’t give him the medication to help his father because of the way he treated her with his words. She told him that if his father had come in person she would of given it to him but he wasn’t there and he was so he wouldn’t give him the medication. These things opened up both of there eyes. Another similarity was with the woman with the maid after her maid helped her she came to realize how she treated her through the years. She also, finally ended seeing her as an individual and not as a maid. The police officers similarity was when there was an accident and a car caught on fire it was the same individual the Chinese lady that he pulled over trapped he at the beginning of the movie wouldn’t help her but in the end his view changed and helped her out of the car. Three differences between these two are that the police is prejudice the whole day during his work to every individual no matter who they are if there not white he’s prejudice. The woman is only prejudice to her maid because she says she did everything wrong. The police won’t allow the individuals to explain themselves he just throw’s them to the ground and handcuffs them. The woman just verbally abuses her maid. The police has problems at home and the woman is at home and there is no problems and she is just making them.


Jennifer Giuliani

Posted by: Jennifer G. at March 22, 2006 05:03 PM

Professor Hobbs

In the film Crash two characters that had a lot in common were the car theft played by the rapper and the shop owner. Both of these characters experienced racial discrimination one being African American and the other being Arab. The thing that binds them is their reactions and actions because of these prejudges. It’s not until the end where their characters likeness splits.

The car theft, like the shop owner, is judged during the film solely on his ethnicity. The car theft is given an awkward look by a white woman walking down the street at which point he complains and wonders why she would see him as a threat. The shop owner goes to buy a gun from a local gun shop and is given grief that he is a terrorist and will go and shoot people because he is an Arab. Both men are furious that they have to put up with these outrageous social prejudges. The only problem with their anger is that they themselves make generalizations about others all the time and wonder why in return people are just like them.

The car theft walks up to a big black SUV and assumes it’s a rich white person when actually it’s an African American like himself. For a second he wonders how this can be possible. Then he proceeds to take the car anyway. Not until the cops arrive and he sees that this black man is under the same kind of pressure from white people that he is dose he begin to think anything of it.

The shop owner is paranoid that someone is going to break into his shop and steal all of his belongings so he dose everything in his power to keep the place secure. This includes buying a handgun and hiring a locksmith to put new locks on his doors. The shop owner doesn’t want to take time to listen to the lock smith’s ranting about how the door needs to be replaced, he just wants it to work and when his shop is finally broken into the first person he blames is the locksmith because of his ethnicity and the owner’s narrow-mindedness.

This is were the characters parts parallel each other so well. The shop owner knows he is convicted early on of using the gun to go out and shoot people, but he goes to the house of the locksmith and demands reimbursement for the damage anyway. He points the gun at him and shoots. If it weren’t for the wrong bullets in his gun he would fit the stereotype of being a terrorist just as well as the car theft fit the stereotype of being a car thief. The car theft complained about being stereotyped as a dangerous black man when in fact he was exactly what he complained about being.

At the very end of the film the shop owner realizes he was in the wrong and is changed by the whole ordeal. That does not change the fact the he still shot at a man, but neither dose the fact that the car theft let slaves go change the fact that he stole cars. The only major difference is that it appeared that the car theft didn’t learn much at the end of the film. He did have the one event in the SUV that might have changed his thinking a little bit, but letting the slaves go seemed like a thing that was in his character from the beginning.

Sam H.

Posted by: Sam H. at March 23, 2006 07:15 PM

The two characters that were husband and wife that were pulled over by the white police officers were both victims to prejudice. The couple were driving a black SUV in the evening and the police had just received reports of a stole car that was just like theirs. The SUV was stole by two black males but the SUV that was pulled over at the time had a black couple inside. When they were pulled over the white police officer immediately asked the black male to step out of the car. The wife of the driver was getting extremely upset and also asked to step out of the car. The white officer was very rude to the couple and searched them with no reason. At this time the officer was also saying smart and sometimes racist remarks to the couple making the woman even more upset. When he finally searched the woman he did it in a way that was ver provocative and unnecessary. The officer even noticed that her husband became more concerned about the situation and realized what the officer was doing was wrong and out of line. After everything was over the officer turned to his partner and asked him, who was also white, if they was any reason to keep the couple in take them into custody. His partner hesitantly said no and to let them go while knowing what just happen was racist and over exaggerated. The officer finally let the couple go and they drove away confused and hurt after what they had just experienced.
The husband in this situation reacted in a calm manner and let the officers do what they wanted. He did not want to cause anymore trouble and was very laid back but scared at the same time. The wife on the other hand was very aggravated and was causing a scene because she had just been violated for no reason. The husband would also talk to the officers with respect. On the other hand the wife did the exact opposite. She spoke with anger and frustration.
Although the couple did react to this situation in similar ways. Once the whole ordeal was over and they went back home, they were both obviously mad and took out their anger of what just happened out on each other. At that point both of their minds had changed about white people and police officers for that matter. Through out the movie they both became shut out against each other and their relationship seemed to crumble. They also did not do very well when it came to confrontations with other people that were not their race.
Watching this seem I was shocked. I could not believe that this would actually happen to someone. Although in the back of my mind I knew that this probably did happen or will happen to a black couple or any couple of a different race. I really do not understand how someone can have so much hate toward another person of a different race other than their own. Unless you have a legitimate reason to hate some then I would understand, but the officers in the movie and most people who are racist today do not know anything about the people that they discriminate. Everyone can learn something from watching the movie Crash. They can learn that it is not necessary or acceptable to discriminate. By doing these thing just caused violence and hate around the world. They can also learn that not everyone no matter wait color they are, are not bad people and are just trying to live their lives.

Posted by: Liz Larry at March 23, 2006 09:31 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I believe that Daniel, the locksmith, and Peter, the young and less serious car jacker, had very similar experiences. Sure the outcomes were very different, but they were severely misjudged and stereotyped and paid high prices for it.

Daniel, because of his shaved head and tattoos, was labeled as a punk and looked down upon on several occasions. Despite his honesty and his appearances worked against him and got him into ugly situations. Because a store owners door was broken, the new lock he installed didn't work. He informed the store owner but he insisted he was trying to swindle him. Fed up, Daniel crumples the bill and says he won't charge and storms out. That morning, the store owner comes to his store and finds it was broken into and everything was destroyed. Thinking it was Daniel, the man finds out where he lives, packs a gun and confronts him. Daniel has no idea what he's on about and as he's being threatened, his daughter cries “He doesn't have it,” leaps and holds onto her father as the shot is fired. Daniel had told his daughter a few nights ago that he had a cloak that wouldn't let bullets hurt him, and had given it to his daughter to comfort her, and she had believed him. Miraculously, she isn't hurt at all, and as the store owner stares stupidly at Daniel and his daughter, Daniel shoots him a very dangerous look and walks into the house. Turns out, the bullets were actually blanks and the store owner had no idea. This situation could have turned into a very tragic one but, as fate would have it, it became a miracle of sorts instead. Peter's story isn't so happy.

Peter was a car jacker with his friend Anthony, and they played right into their 'black gangsta' stereotypes unlike Daniel. Peter got separated from Anthony in a failed car jacking and he found himself wandering alone on the side of the road on a cold winter night, hitchhiking. A cop, off duty, drove up and offered him a ride. Peter hopped in the car and warmed himself up, smiling at his great fortune. The police officer starts conversation with Peter and it's rocky from the beginning. The cop doesn't seem to trust Peter that much and with everything the young man says, he gets offended. Peter comments on the country music playing, saying that he liked it and he wrote a song the other day ( he was making fun of Anthony's paranoia and made a country song about lynching) and the cop just took it as an insult. The final straw is when Peter looks at the statue of the patron saint of traveling on the dashboard and laughs. The cop gets fed up and tells him to get out, Peter puts up a fight, saying he wasn't doing anything. The cop keeps telling him to get out and as Peter reaches into his pocket to show him what is so funny the cop shoots him. In the now dead mans hand is an identical statue to the one the cop had.

Three main similarities between these two men are as follows: They both were misjudged because of what they looked like. They both were faced with a gun, and both were shot at unjustly. The differences: Peter was killed and Daniel wasn't. Daniel had someone there to 'save' him from the bullet and Peter clearly didn't. Daniel had done nothing that we could see in the movie to be judged so while Peter was a car jacker and had led a very shady and irresponsible life but he didn't deserve to die. In conclusion, never judge a book by it's cover. As corny as that sounds, do we really follow that little proverb? Truth is, we repeat it and chant it, but few of us ever really follow it. As Daniel and Peter can account for, appearances can be deceiving.

Rachael T.

Posted by: Rachael T. at March 24, 2006 12:15 AM

Professor Hobbs,

Many of the characters in the film Crash share similar experiences regarding prejudice towards their ethnicity, religion, or beliefs. Two of these characters that share many similarities and differences in how they are treated throughout the film are the locksmith and the shop keeper. They are both the subject of various prejudices and stereotypes. Their situations are both similar and different.

The locksmith and the shop keeper are both subjected to stereotypes. Sandra Bullock’s character says that the locksmith is going to sell the keys to her house to his friends so they can break into her house. She bases this upon the fact that he wears baggy clothes, has many tattoos as well as his ethnicity. The shop keeper is faced with many racist sayings and names that are written on the walls of his shop after it is robbed. Another similarity between the two characters is that they both have to deal with prejudices on a daily basis due to what they do for a living. The shop keeper is seen by some people as the stereotypical Middle Eastern man, being accused of having to do with the September 11th attacks. He must deal with this even though he is not from the same country as those who orchestrated the attacks. Even though the characters share similarities, they are still two different people.

One of the main differences between these two characters is how they handle the situations they are put into. When the locksmith is leaving the home of Bullock’s character, he leaves all of the keys on the countertop and quietly leaves. He, in a way, proves to her that she is wrong about him and was too quick to judge him based upon his appearance. The shop keeper reacts with anger when the locksmith tells him that it is not the lock that needs to be fixed but the door. As a result of this, the shop keeper decides to shoot the locksmith, blaming him on the robbery. Another difference that exists between the two characters is the reason that they were attacked. The robbery at the shop could be considered a hate crime due to all the racist slogans that were written on the walls. The reason that the locksmith was attacked was a man’s failure to listen to him when told that the problem was with the door, not the lock. The differences that separate the characters could be due to the way they were raised of in what kind of environment they grew up in. These factors can greatly contribute to the way a person reacts to something that offends them.

Although these two characters are very different from each other, various events occur throughout the film that link them together. Many of the issues mentioned have some affect on the characters. These issues help to show that all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or religious beliefs are affected by the many problems that exist throughout the world.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at March 24, 2006 12:21 AM

Professor Hobbs,

The film Crash was based mainly on a number of different races and religions clashing together. Many of the characters can relate to each other in one way or another, but I feel that the two policemen portrayed their prejudice outlook against African Americans rather well.
During one of the first scenes of the film, Officer Ryan pulled over a sports utility vehicle after noticing the couple that was occupying it was black. Officer Ryan was very rude to the man and even went as far as to sexually molest the woman.
Near the film’s ending, Officer Ryan’s partner Officer Hanson found himself caught in a similar situation. As he was driving he picked up an African American man so that he did not have to walk. The man seemed fairly nice, but Officer Hanson was nothing but paranoid. As the man reached into his pocket to pull out the same statue of Jesus the Hanson had in his car, Officer Hanson pulled out his gun and shot the man.
These characters’ situations relate the best because they are both prejudice against African Americans. They are also similar due to the fact that they hurt these people either physically or emotionally. They are even alike in the professions, police are supposed to protect and serve no matter who the person is or where they came from.
Although the policemen are similar, they are also different in many ways. At the beginning of the film, Officer Hanson was against the way his partner, Officer Ryan, was treating the innocent couple. Unfortunately there was nothing that Officer Hanson could do at the time, but the next day he went to his boss and tried to get his partner changed. Then, towards the end of the film when Officer Hanson’s personality took a turn for the worse, Officer Ryan redeemed himself. Officer Ryan risked his life to save the life of the same woman he sexually molested. The film did not show any reasoning behind why Officer Ryan was prejudice at the beginning. On the other hand, Officer Hanson changed after an argument with the man whose wife was sexually molested. Hanson tried sticking up for the man and all the man did was scream horrible things in Officer Hanson’s face. I believe this is what caused Hanson to become prejudice.
These two officers show the perfect example of why America is so prejudice. I honestly never thought things were that bad until I watched everything “crash” in this film. It can really make a person think about even the little things they do such as walking further away from a person when they see that they are not the same race as one another. Just because one person of a different race commits a crime does not mean that everyone else of that race will do the same thing. If a man has a shaved head and tattoos people should not automatically assume that he is involved in some sort of gang. Hopefully by watching this film people will realize that race or religion are not what is important in life.

Angela H.

Posted by: Angela H. at March 24, 2006 01:22 AM

Professor Hobbs,

The movie Crash, demonstrates that it is not just one certain individual or group being hated upon. Racism and prejudice can affect everyone. In the movie, Daniel, a Mexican locksmith and Christine, a Middle Eastern house wife experience life changing obstacles that will make them realize what life is really all about.

Daniel will learn through his job several times that the stereo type that is placed upon him will obtain horrible reactions. Daniel has his job as a locksmith to support himself and his daughter. Through his work he collides with the DA’s wife. She makes the unremarkable accusation that Daniel is a gangster, who could put their lives in danger because he changed the locks to their house. That is not the only racism he is to face. He was changing the lock on a back door for a store keeper when he noticed that the whole door needed to be replaced. The shop owner yelled at him to fix the door, but Daniel was equip to and told the shop owner that. The racial slurs just kept pouring out of the shop owners’ mouth towards Daniel. Luckily the situation did not get too out of control and Daniel left.

Now Christine also was an unlucky victim that fell to prejudice and sexual harassment. Christine was in the car with her husband. Christine was caught by the police doing some inappropriate things. This right away could have given the police a bad stereo type against her. She had also been drinking that night and started arguing with the police. Christine had to be padded down for weapons. As this was taking place she was sexually assaulted by the police officer.

Bad things can happen to good people, but it is more of how they handle these situations, which make them stronger in the end. Christine handled it the way she needed to handle it. She was angry and upset. Daniel on the other hand, pretty much just accepted them stereo types that were thrown at him.

Both these situations have similar, but also different aspects. They both fell to discrimination and humiliation. They everlasting responses make viewers of the movie realize some things.

What I learned from these situations is that it is sad to know that some people face discrimination so much that they become numb to the pain and the darkness that it entitles. Not standing up for ones self just allows the barrier that is built by prejudice, to become even harder to overcome. Watching these incidents occur should allow anyone to know that they have the right to fight prejudice and stereotyping.

What can be concluded from these incidents that occurred in the movie is that people do not have to be a certain race, religion, or stereotype to have a prejudice put upon them. Prejudice can and does affect everyone. In the movie the prejudice that is placed upon characters affects others when they all crash into each other. It is essentially important to realize that everyone has the chance to pass on a prejudice when people crash into each other.

Posted by: Kelly J at March 24, 2006 01:30 AM

Dear Prof. Hobbs,

In the film Crash many hate crimes and acts of predjudice took place amongst different people. A few were caused by only one party but most were engaged by both. There are two instances in the movie that I can think of where someone fell victim to predjudice. The first person was a woman named Chenequa Johnson who works at a medical clinic. The other character is a Hispanic man who works in the locksmithing business.

In both situations they were innocently doing their respective jobs, but their customers treated them in a manner that was inappropriate. In both situations the victims didn't retaliate. Also in both cases they were minorities. In the case of Chenequa Johnson, an officer called to inquire about medication and an appointment with a Doctor for his father who had a gastro-intestinal problem. When the conversation didn't go the way the officer wanted it go, he resorted to using racial derogatory comments even though Chenequa was only following protocal. She did remain professional through this even though she was offended.

The Hispanic gentleman was replacing the locks to a house of a married couple. In the midst of him replacing the locks, he overhears the wife exclaiming how insecure she is having a minority male with tatoos changing the locks to her house. She thought that he would go and distribute duplicate keys of the house to his "gangster buddies". This isn't the case but she assumes because he has tatoos and because he is a minority that he must be a gang banger. Throughout this ordeal he is offended but completes his job and doesn't respond unprofessionally.

In Chenequa's situation there isn't much context as to whether she was predjudice herself or whether she absolutely tried her hardest to help the officer and his father out. The officer did in fact identify himself as a racist later on in the movie. By the end of the movie Chenequa pours out her agression towards 2 foreigners that rammed into the back of her car. On the other hand, the Hispanic man doesn't retaliate any stifiled frustration. The movie gives much insight into his home life by showing the relationship he has with his daughter. He is discriminated by and attacked by a seperate character in the film and the reason why he was discriminated against (in both instances) was because the people who discriminated against him thought he was a gangster.

In my personal opinion I believe that having that child and wife made the Hispanic man a lot more conscious of his actions and reactions. It made him more sensitive to how responding negatively could affect the lives of people strangers and loved ones alike. The irony to what I have just said is that the attack I spoke of earlier was an attack that almost cost his daughter her life. It reflected true innocence in the man because even though perservered through bigotry twice and didn't crack under pressure, he was still attacked by one of those people who discriminated him. On the contrary Chenequa continued this destructive pattern in a negative pay it forward type of way. So she seemingly became worse off than when she began in the movie. Back to my argument, I believe that the Hispanic man's family and obligations kept him grounded through those predjudiced confrontations. That allowed those things to not get to him like how it did Chenequa. The lesson I take away from all of this is you can not control what other people do, but you can control what you think and how you respond.

B.Jones

Posted by: Holden B. Jones at March 24, 2006 02:45 AM

Mr Hobbs,

In the movie Crash different characters get caught up in their own problems as well as the problems of others because of the stereotype that is put upon them because of their race. All of the characters come from a different racial background and have different lifestyles. Somehow of the characters experience similar as well as different situations through the movie. Anthony is a young black male who is angry at the stereotype that he and others are judged by. Daniel is a young Hispanic father and husband who works as a locksmith. Although these two characters paths never directly cross, they have similarities and differences in their lifestyles.

Anthony feels he is constantly being judged by his race in his life. In the movie Anthony robs a woman, Jean, and her politician husband at gunpoint. Jean later expresses her feelings about the incident, saying that she knew it would happen because he was black. Later Daniel changes the locks at the couple’s home. Jean sees that Daniel is Hispanic and yells at her husband that she wants the locks changed in the morning because she assumes that Daniel is a criminal. Both Anthony and Daniel are thought to be criminals simply because of their race.

The difference between the two characters is that Anthony actually is a criminal and Daniel is not. Also Daniel lets the feelings of hate towards him because of his race go. He does this even when Jean is commenting about him while he is in the next room to hear it all. He does not show his anger. Anthony is very angry and expresses his feelings, although no one ever really speaks about his race to his face during the movie.

The characters are also different because of their lifestyles. Anthony is always angry because of the assumptions put upon him because of his race. He proves these assumptions to be correct. He is angry because people assume he is a criminal, yet he robs people at gunpoint. Daniel does not show he is angry because of the assumptions put upon him because of his race. He does not live the way people think he does because of a stereotype. Jean thinks he is a criminal and that he will sell their keys. Daniel is an honest and hard working family man.

Both Anthony and Daniel have a gun pointed at them at some point during the movie. Anthony has his own gun pointed at him after attempting to rob a rich black man that he assumed would be white because of the type of car he was driving. A store owner who misunderstood Daniel when he was working to change the locks had a gun pointed at Daniel outside of Daniels family’s house. The store owner also judged Daniel because of his race. Anthony was put in this situation because of his dishonest actions, while Daniel was put in this situation because of his honest actions.

The lifestyles and actions of these two similar and different characters prove how stereotypes should not exist. People are the way they are not because of their race. They are that way because that is who they are. It can become very dangerous when people come to conclusions based on stereotypes. Daniel, who is honest and harmless, could have had his daughter killed because the shop owner was too quick to judge him based on his race. There are all types of different people, and they come in every color.

C. Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at March 24, 2006 09:41 AM

Professor Hobbs,
Crash being movie of the year makes it no surprise that it is hard to keep in rental stores. It is a good movie that is mainly about racism. It has several different stories happening at once that eventually all come together. Lives are ruined; people are hurt; lives change. Crash goes through the daily lives of several different characters of race and their struggles with racism. Though the film shows a lot of hate there are many people that can change.
The two main characters that come to mind when thinking of the changes are Ludacris’ character and the bad cop. In the very beginning of this movie Ludacris is shown talking about how people are racist towards him and basically telling his friend how he feels about it. As Ludacris and his friend walk by a white couple he notices that the lady became afraid. He also blames this on the stereotype that all African Americans are gangsters. At this point, Ludacris and his friend proceed to steal the white couples SUV completely twisting everything that he just talked about. As the storyline goes on Ludacris runs into some complications when running over a Chinese man. He did not do this out of hate but could not act because he was already in the process of the crime. He left the man there to die on the street corner. In my opinion, I do not believe Ludacris is a bad person or character in the movie. The way he talks about how all people are racist; it sounds like he is fed up with it all and left with only the option to be racist. By then end of the movie, his real character comes out and he starts to help people and be a little less racist. I think he was probably the most racist at first in the movie and had a great deal of change.
The white cop on the other hand was one of the most changed in the movie. His character starts off by a phone conversation with an African American woman about his father. He is trying to get him to the hospital and the woman tells him she cannot do anything at that time because everything was full. He then verbally abuses her over the phone and then does the same when going to her office. This is where he states the reasons why he is like he is. In my opinion, his reason is not anything that justifies him being a racist person. Even though he was related to the things that happened with his father, he cannot harass every person that is different from him. After his phone conversation, he pulled over a African American couple to harass them which led to sexual assault on the female. Later in the movie, he shows that he changes by saving the same female he sexually assaulted. That scene I believe is where he begins to change his ways and stops being a racist person.
Overall this movie was very good at showing things that happen in every day life. The racism and hate that people have for each other is so bad it sickens me. I could only hope everything in that movie is not true but I know better than that.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at March 24, 2006 11:03 AM

Professor Hobbs,

It is weird to think that two people can be so alike, yet so different at the same time. In the film “Crash”, two characters that struck me as seemingly different at the beginning, and then ended up being much more a like than they appeared were the two cops.

At the beginning of the film, there was one “good” cop and one “bad” cop. The “bad” cop sexually harassed the black woman when he pulled her and her husband over and was being extremely rude to both of them, in other words, being a racist. The “good” cop was wrong in just standing and watching it, however, he knew that what was going on was not correct and when he returned to the station, he told the head cop about it. The “bad” cop, was able to redeem himself in the end, and it was just the opposite for the “good” cop, he ended up killing a black man because he thought that the man was going to shoot him, and it turns out that he just wanted to show him that he had the same figurine that the cop had in his car. The main difference in the two cops is that the one, the “good” cop, does seem to have good morals, while the “bad” cop on the other hand, just seems to have a guilty conscience.

One thing that the two cops have in common is the fact they both are, obviously, two cops, working for the same law enforcement agency. But more so than that, they are both people who do good at some point, but also do something that is very, very wrong. The “good” cop and the “bad” cop both made bad decisions, the “good” cop shot a man and then left his body along the road. Even though he would have gotten in trouble, he should have reported it. The “bad” cop sexually and verbally abused the black couple and that is wrong for obvious reasons, he was however, able to save the black woman’s life in the end, but that does not make what he did earlier in the film acceptable. The same thing goes for the “good” cop; he may have lived a good life up until he shot the black man, however that does not make what he did all right. They also have the fact that they are both good at the core. They may have done things wrong, however, they are both very sorry and try to fix the situations to best of their abilities. The “good” cop knows what he did was wrong, and he should have reported it, but he did not want to get into trouble, but he does everything he can to make the situation better. The “bad” cop risked his own life to save the woman he had abused’s life. The two cops are more alike than they seem at the beginning.

In the end, this proves that sometimes in different situations, two people can be very alike or very different. It all depends on the situations that they are put in and the decisions that they make in those situations.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at March 24, 2006 12:47 PM

Professor Hobbs:


In the movie, Crash written and directed by Paul Higgins, many of the characters were diverse, yet a lot of them were similar also. Many of them could be compared to each other even though certain people could not see this happening. Two characters that demonstrate this was Anthony, a young car thief played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Rick, the district attorney of Los Angeles played by Brendan Fraser. Throughout the movie, Anthony always speculates about racial discrimination and the stereotypes that he had to endure all through his life by questioning everyone’s motive and thinking that the reason people act that way towards him is because of his race. District Attorney Rick also worries about the same thing, especially after Anthony stole his car, or after a fellow officer gunned down a police officer. He has to worry about what his actions towards the matter would be, because he has to think about the public and how that would affect his approval ratings.

They are both similar to each other for several reasons. To start with, Anthony continuously thinks about what other people are wondering when they see him, especially as a young black man. He thinks that they are always seeing him as a thug who would only do illegal and wrong things. Rick also thinks about what other people are thinking, mainly because he is the district attorney. He needs to be cautious about the decisions that he makes, because he has to worry about how it would make him look and he wants everyone to be happy. Another reason why they are the same is that they both end up doing things that are wrong and illegal. Anthony lived his life by stealing cars and then selling it, and he also ran over an Asian man. Rick ends up framing a potentially innocent man just so that both the black community and the law enforcement community could accept him. Lastly, they are similar to each other, because they try to correct their mistakes or any wrongdoings. For example, Anthony, in the end of the movie, freed all the people that were kidnapped and locked in the back of the van instead of selling them to a garage shop owner. Rick attempted to fix what happened to him when his car was stolen, and when he and his wife were held at gunpoint. He tried to make it better by taking a picture of himself with a black man and giving him a metal.

Anthony and Rick are quite different too. They both come from different backgrounds where Anthony needs to steal cars in order to make his money while Rick is already well off considering his career. They are also different, because Anthony thinks that everyone is out to get him whereas Rick just fears what would happen if he made a wrong decision. Lastly, they are different from one another, because towards the end of the movie, Anthony becomes a protagonist while Rick becomes an antagonist. Anthony freed the slaves when Rick framed an innocent man.

This shows that anyone is capable of doing something wrong. If people just learn that not everyone is out to get them, then it is possible for them to not commit a crime. It can be concluded that no matter how rich or poor, famous or unknown a person is, any person could commit a crime. The sad thing is that they are also able to get away with it.

Linda M.

Posted by: Linda M. at March 24, 2006 01:59 PM

Lee,

Ludacris and Larenz Tate play the characters of two young “thugs” named Anthony and Peter in the movie Crash. The two have been good friends growing up and they help each other whenever they have to mug a white citizen on the streets. They have two very different opinions of the way life works. Anthony believes that the white man is an oppressor. He also makes it a point to never rob from an African American or minority because he doesn’t want to hinder his people from rising up. Peter on the other hand embraces the white culture and believes that everything Anthony says is built on presumptions and ignorance. The two rob a car from a white couple which unfoils a series of events that will lead the two characters into completely different ends. Anthony seems to be alone through this entire film. We receive no insight into his family situation and we don’t know why he has developed a hate towards the Caucasian race, what we do know is that he doesn’t quite see is that by robbing people, he is fitting right into the stereotype of what black people are assumed to be; Gangsters. That in itself is pushing his race down in a symbolic sense. Peter doesn’t really care as much about the impact of his actions. He knows that he is hurting his mother by not coming home and by not staying out of trouble, but he sees that as a natural way of life.

Even though the two seem to be a good team, they argue along the way about what is to be black. Peter doesn’t care that his dream of being a goalie in a hokey league seems to be more of a white person’s dream. He also doesn’t understand why everything needs to fall into a category of black or white traits. Anthony on the other hand doesn’t get why Peter is so ignorant about the world around him. In his opinion, there are obvious boundaries that black people should be careful not to cross because then white man will let him know where his place is. At the end of the film Anthony and Peter both rob a black man who they mistaken for a white man. The black man fights back and Peter and Anthony are separated from each other. Anthony is stuck with the black man who he tried to rob. He doesn’t understand why the black man is so furious, other than the obvious reason, until he tells Anthony that he is embarrassed of him and how he is representing his race. Anthony leaves the man and reevaluates his entire stance on life. Peter on the other hand is left alone and without that help Anthony he become naïve to the evils of the world and gets shot by a white off duty cop who was afraid that he was concealing a weapon.

What I can learn from these two people is that even though it is a wonderful thing to be open-minded and aware that everyone is created as an individual and isn’t defined by their race, it is a known fact that despite this, the people of this world have a habit of categorizing everything and placing people into groups in order to keep things in order and make sense of everything that is so unknown. It is a way of getting rid of fear. Because of this I believe that even though Anthony was wrong for being racist, he was in a way keeping him safe. Peter on the other hand was very naïve and trusted other people to have his same point of view of life.

-Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at March 24, 2006 02:01 PM

Some of the characters presented in the film “Crash” exhibit similar attitudes and share similar experiences. Both the older cop in the film, who dislikes African Americans, and the wealthy wife of the candidate for local office, who tends to make assumptions about behavior based on appearance, commit hateful “crimes”.

The police officer reveals himself to be prejudice when he pulls over an African American couple only a few blocks from their home. Although his reasoning for pulling them over was unsubstantial and he pursued them with conviction, the officer is arguably justified until he has the couple exit the car without reason, sexually assaults the woman, and handles them both aggressively and forcefully. The cop knew that the couple hadn’t committed any serious offenses and so didn’t seem to make any assumptions about their behavior but was instead driven by hate and dislike.

The wife of the political candidate acted more on assumption of behavior and fear than did the police officer. After being robbed of their car by two young black men, she and her husband decide to have the locks on their house changed. A Latino man, whose character is later revealed to be free of criminal activity or violent intent, is working on the back door when the wife takes a look at him and rushes to her husband. She insists that the locks be changed as soon as the man working on them leaves, claiming that he’s probably a member of a street gang and will distribute copies of keys to open their doors and rob them. Her husband simply doesn’t understand why she thinks the Latino man is a threat; he doesn’t seem to possess the same racial disposition that she does. Hearing the wife scream about his nonexistent plot to assist his gang in robbing their home, the man changing the locks drops the keys on the counter in front of her and leaves abruptly.

These situations are similar in that both the cop and wife insult, attack, and make profound assumptions about individuals of a certain ethnicity—they both “victimize” someone that they’ve categorized. Obviously, the “victims” of this discrimination are also harmed mentally and emotionally. (The couple in the car was also manhandled.) While there is no apparent regret shortly after the hate crimes occur, the wife and police officer both experience a revelation and change of heart.

Coincidentally, the cop runs into the same woman he molested when she’s involved in a car accident. Her car has tumbled over and she’s stuck inside surrounded by gas that could explode at any moment. Without hesitation, the cop rushes in to pull her out, but she reacts wildly screaming, “Not you!” and flailing her arms to get him away. He is able to talk her down and convince her that he won’t harm her. In the end, he saves her life, pulling her from the wreck just before it explodes. The effect on the cop afterwards is a bit unclear, but he seems to be rethinking his old predisposition about African Americans after sharing such a traumatizing experience with the black woman.

The wife’s revelation happens much more slowly as she notices that the people she is often putting down and making ugly assumptions about are really her only friends. On night, all alone, she grabs onto one of her maids who comes by to check on her after a getting a sprain. She had pushed so many people away for so long that she felt alone and lost.

Both characters went through some similar events and changes during the film “Crash”. They illustrate an enlightening transition and respect for new perspective.

Posted by: Sean O. at March 24, 2006 02:02 PM

Hello Professor Hobbs,

“It's the sense of touch. I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just so we can feel something.” This is a quote from the beginning minutes in the movie “Crash”. Although this statement may seem as though it is making generalities, I believe it to be very true. Race, gender, and our own personal morals oftentimes bind us to isolation. We fear what we do not understand, nor do we take the time to face our fears and understand what is in front of us. Not only does this fear also isolate us, but it contributes to a never ending cycle of superiority complexes, prejudices, and hate.

In the movie, each character goes through a change in their lives. In such a film driven by daily overlooked prejudices, one might first be hesitant to accept its message as the truth. The deeper into the movie this person gets, the more they continue to question not the truth, but of why we continue to let it happen.

Officer Ryan and Jean have very similar changes throughout the movie. In the beginning, both characters had slightly strong prejudices towards other races. I believe that both have these prejudices due to experiences or exposure throughout their lives. In the beginning of the movie, Jean expresses her prejudice by stereotyping two black men. Although her suspicions were confirmed, this was still an act of prejudice. Also in the beginning of the movie, Officer Ryan expresses his prejudice by treated a middle aged black couple as if they were criminals. What is claimed as a routine traffic stop turns into crude judgment and a mild case of sexual assault.

Another instance is when Jean demands that the locks in her house be changed again in the morning, preferably by a white man with no “gang” tattoos. Sadly, the man changing her locks, a Mexican who has tattoos, is in no way related to a gang. He is a father and a husband who seems to barely have a violent vein in his body. Officer Ryan also stereotypes when he calls the doctors office about his father’s health. When he does not get the answers he wants, he asks the receptionist her name. When she responds with “Shaniqua”, his prejudice side follows with saying something along the lines of “what a surprise”.

At the end of the movie, both characters reveal a side that was quite unseen throughout the story. Jean realizes that she pushes everyone away in her life, and even her own friends are too busy to visit her in the event that she sprains her ankle. In fact, the only person there for her is the one she criticized and showed mild forms of prejudices to; her maid. This is the point where I believe her feelings have changed for the better. This is the point where I believe her feelings have changed for the better. Officer Ryan changes when he is faced with saving the life of a woman. Not only is this a black woman, but it is the same woman who he sexually harassed during the “routine traffic stop”. He proceeds to tell the woman to let him help her and that he is not going to hurt her. This is the point where I believe their feelings have changed for the better.


Missy Z

Posted by: Missy Z at March 24, 2006 02:09 PM

Professor Hobbs

Two characters from the movie “Crash” have a similar experience dealing with prejudice situations. Officer Hanson remains passive while his racist partner takes advantage of a black couple. Later he requests to switch partners and must to comply with his chief and say he has a flagellants problem, receiving him a single vehicle. Officer Hanson proves to be respectful of the opposite race when he tries to protects the man his partner took advantage of from a cop ambush. As tolerant as he seems, the officer ends up assuming a black kid is dangerous and before he hears the kid out, Hanson shoots him in defense.

Cameron is the character that falls victim to prejudice when he watches a police officer molest his wife. He is forced to say sorry, even though he was innocent, for the police to release him. Because Cameron did not stick up for his wife and tell the police officer off, his relationship with her starts to crumble. During rock bottom two black kids try to hijack his car. With nothing to loose, Cameron fights back. Anthony, one of the hijackers gets in the car with him and the police chase them into a driveway. Cameron still in a state of aggression gets out and begins to harass the cops. This is where Officer Hanson talks him down and lets him go freely. About a block away Cameron tells Anthony he is an embarrassment and he gets out of the car.

A few of their situations in the movie were parallel to each other. Officer Hanson has to admit to a flagellant problem to get out of his partnership and is ridiculed by the entire force. Cameron marriage begins to crumble because his wife can believe he didn’t stick up for her. Lastly both characters have a breaking point where they submit to their prejudices and react upon them. Officer Hanson mistakes a innocent young black man for being violent and he ends up killing him. Cameron acts out during a another incident with the cops and starts to harass them. Both of these characters motives are the opposite of what they were in the beginning. Officer Hanson was respectful and tolerant to the black race, but ended up killing an innocent black man. Cameron was compliant to the officers, turns around and harasses them.

Some differences between these characters situations is the extremity of Cameron situation compared to Officer Hanson’s situation. Officer Hanson didn’t endure racist oppression as Cameron did from the police force. It is also evident that Cameron did not end up killing anyone at the end of the movie, as Officer Hanson had. Lastly, Officer Hanson was falling victim to his racist situation while Cameron was recovering at the end of the movie.

These situations shows that even though how tolerant one may seem to the opposite race one can still be racist. As much as one tries to respect the opposite race one still has the ability to stereotype and assume things that may account for violence and fear. From these two characters some may learn that it is hard to survive in society without complying in some way or another to racism. This is a negative conclusion, but one can’t fight something in a subordinate position. Sadly racism exists in everyone’s lives which forces people to deal with it in everyday situations. Not all situations are as serious as the ones displayed in “Crash,” but this movie made it evident that small prejudices can build up to extreme prejudices.

Samantha Velkoff

Posted by: Samantha V. at March 24, 2006 04:26 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Throughout the course of the movie, “Crash,” many characters had encounters with prejudice. Two different characters with two different situations will be examined. Prejudice is a strong feeling, and can lead to a lot a trouble. Prejudice not only affects the person it is being placed on, it also affects everyone around that person. The two individuals that we will be looking at are the Larenz Tate as Peter, and Michael Pena as Daniel. Peter is portrayed as the average African-American male, and Daniel is portrayed as a typical Mexican male. Both of these characters experienced negative stereotyping in the movie.

The two situation experienced are similar in many ways. Both characters were males, and were judged based off of their appearance. Peter’s situation varied somewhat from Daniel’s though. Peter was fatally gun down by an off-duty officer. He had been picked up by the officer while trying to hitch a ride. Since Peter had laughed and said he like country music, the officer thought that he was being insulted. After Peter saw a model of Jesus Christ on the dashboard of the cop’s car, he thought it would be a good idea to show the one he had of his own. The officer thought that Peter was trying to rob him, so he pulled out a gun, and shot Peter. When the cop leaned over to see what Peter was holding, he was regretful to find it was a figure just like his.

Daniel’s situation was different in many ways. Daniel was nearly killed when he came home from work, and he was confronted by a middle-eastern man. The man was the same man who Daniel replaced a lock for. The man wanted revenge after his shop was robbed. Daniel was being accused for the break-in, so the man wanted to kill him. Daniel’s daughter realized that he was home, and she proceeded to greet him. His daughter saw that a gun was pointed at him, and she jumped in front of the armed man. At that point, the man shot the gun, but it was a blank, therefore Daniel survived.

These two situations were very different in numerous ways. For one, Daniel was nearly killed while Peter was actually killed. Peter’s murderer was a Caucasian in his twenties, while the person trying to kill Daniel was a middle-aged, middle-easterner. Another difference between the two situations is Daniel’s perpetrator was redeemed when he realized that the Daniel’s daughter saved his life. Peter’s killer was never redeemed, because he did not do anything to make up for his wrong. Looking at these situations, we can say a lot.

From evaluating these two situations a few things can be said. Prejudice is a horrible state of mind, and prejudices should not be placed on any race. Prejudice often leads to anger and frustration, which leads to harm even death. We as humans tend to place stereotypes on groups of people, because it is our nature. Classifications are placed on groups so we can some kind of order. Grouping is not bad until it is put in a negative form, such as in the situations observed. The conclusions that I have drawn from these situations are prejudice is harmful to all races. If prejudice is not eliminated, many hate crimes will be committed in the future.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at March 25, 2006 11:29 AM

Hi Lee,

My name is Karen Eini and I teach EFL in a college in Israel.

I came across your blog while looking for ideas about how to use the film Crash ,in my Behavioral Science class.

I thoroughly enjoyed your lesson plan and have spent a long time reading your students' extremely well written work! Bravo!

As the focus of my course is reading comprehension, I thought that in addition to the discussion questions that it would be great to use your students' work as the reading texts.
I imagine giving pairs of students different essays and working on vocabulary, tone, point of view and then comparison of the texts they read.

The opportunity to respond to your students with their impressions, would be a great way to practice their basic writing skills . Please let me know if this last idea is possible, and where they can post their feedback.

If it is not possible, no problem and thanks for a great resource.

Warm regards,
Karen Eini, Ruppin Academic Center, Israel
Friends and Flags Program Director
http://www.friendsandflags.org

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NOTE FROM LEE:

Hi Karen. Yes, we will definitely work something out. This could turn out to be an influential project. English-Blog readers, stay tuned. I will create a new entry in a few days dedicated to Karen's class response to my classes response to the film Crash. It's too bad its so late in the semester since I could get a "third" round of replies (to your student's replies) going. But, I have some other ideas up my sleeve. Will keep you posted!

In the meantime, take a look at what this class did with the film "Crash" according to the American newspaper Christian Science Monitor:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0906/p14s01-legn.html

Posted by: Karen Eini at March 31, 2006 01:32 PM

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Note from Lee:

Due to the overwhelming response (and length) of these responses about the film "Crash," I've decided to cut off the commentary for this entry. However, you may read the "sequel" to this blog entry and its ensuing commentary HERE!

See you there!

Posted by: Lee Hobbs at April 18, 2006 11:44 PM

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