Crash (2004) is a film that deals with stereotypes and racial tensions which are heavily present throughout American society. The film is keen to address and either negate or confirm these stereotypes through its variety of characters and their interlocking stories. Throughout the film we see racists put their prejudices aside and liberals act upon what is almost portrayed as a natural instinct. This is particularly evident when the character of Tom Hansen, a police officer who rejects his partner on the grounds that he is a racist, shoots and kills a young black man because he reached into his pocket. The film portrays this almost as a natural fear as despite all of the police officers attempts to be as fair as possible when it comes down to it he is just as scared of a black man reaching into his pocket as other characters within the film who we deem as racists, particularly Matt Dillon’s character.
The reaction to minorities and the stereotypes that come with their ethnicity is constantly being addressed and either confirmed or denied. For example we have the character Daniel who is a Hispanic father with an honest trade, throughout the film he is portrayed as a good father who is constantly confronted with the social stigma that comes with his ethnicity from both white people and other minorities, such as the Persian store owner Farhad who is perceived by others as an Iraqi. This is a significant as it demonstrates how racial stereotypes are acknowledged by all ethnicities, how even the persecuted can be prejudice based on race. Farhad is an interesting character as he is suspicious and paranoid of almost everyone in the new land he is in, his character is in essence an acknowledgement of how America is a nation where the weak will be taken advantage of, however he takes this to the extreme and it is his determination not to be taken advantage of that leaves him weak and vulnerable.
Whilst Crash is keen to demolish racial stereotypes and does so throughout it is also its rightful acknowledgement of these stereotypes as somewhat accurate that perhaps has caused some of the controversy surrounding the film. Crash is not an anti-racism film, it is simply a depiction and portrayal of how these stereotypes can influence decisions and people’s lives. It is my belief that Crash’s intention was not show how bad stereotypes are but to simply show them and the effects stereotyping has. But at the same time it acknowledges that these stereotypes are not without warrant, something which Ludacris’ character Anthony and his friend Peter reference and discuss rather ironically at the beginning of the film. It is the fact that Crash’s black characters conform to the stereotype the film acknowledges that both makes the film an Oscar winner and stirs up controversy around it. The black characters are gun owning thieves, the Persian man thought of as a terrorist does have an extremist attitude after all the first thing he does is buy a gun and eventually tries to shoot a man. It is the acknowledgement that these stereotypes exist because people do conform to them that essentially defines this film in my opinion.