October 09, 2005


We watched the movie Crash last night. It was horrifying.

I went into this movie blind: the only thing I knew about it was that people thought it was good. I didn't realize that the entire thing was about race. And boy do I mean it was about race. Everything the characters say and do is racially motivated. Every scene is about race. The bottom line in this movie is that we're all racists.

Am I really too naive? I thought this movie was completely unrealistic. I'm sorry, but the DA's advisor is simply not going to mutter "f-ing black people" to a black detective. No way, no how. I'm not denying that we haven't all felt ourselves in these characters' shoes at one point or another, but the downright racist things they utter in every scene are over the top; people just don't talk openly like that. A white man might inwardly grumble about affirmative action, but he's not going to openly belittle the black woman working for the HMO.

I was disappointed with this movie because I had high hopes, and we don't rent movies that often. But I just can't enjoy a program where I hate all the characters, and the only guy I could stand in this movie was the locksmith.

I've never been to LA -- maybe LA is from Mars and the Midwest is from Venus -- but this can't be real life. People just don't think about race every waking second.

Posted by Sarah at October 9, 2005 10:04 AM | TrackBack

I haven't seen this movie yet. But I will say that living near 2 cities Camden NJ/Philadelphia, race does color a lot of things in our lives. It sucks but that's the reality.

Posted by: Mare at October 9, 2005 02:44 PM

I agree. This movie is the most unrealistic thing I have ever seen. Being an Asian person, I have heard things like chinks and fobs (I mean not derrogatively towards me, just in general), but chinaman is very 19th century.

And I am from Los Angeles. And yes, a lot of things run on race and race tesion is common occurence (black gangs shooting random Latinos/as, high school riots started by tension between Iranian and Latino population, etc.). But people don't talk like that at all. You're right: a person for example might start a speech about the laziness of this so-and-so group, but he won't do it in a highly academic way (apparently considered to be more "honest") like the people in the movie were doing.

And I think to have such a pessimistic bottom line ultimately made the movie unbearable to me. It even seems like the movie was satisfied on seeing everyone as racist, not really offering any solution. The movies suggests that really, all we can do is accept the fact that we're all racist. If there's a better example of defeatism, then I don't know what it is.

Posted by: John at October 9, 2005 03:47 PM

You're right, John: it was a total downer. I thought Million Dollar Baby was depressing as all get out, but this topped even that.

Posted by: Sarah at October 9, 2005 04:38 PM

How about Irishman, Welshman, megook [asian term for American] Okie, Redneck, Yank, et al.
There is survival value in being mistrustful of strangers or obvious members of other tribes. If this distrust is so strong that in makes you incapable of dealing with strangers, it is your loss. Once everyone burns their guilt string we can get on with it.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at October 10, 2005 10:16 PM

Google "failure" and laugh!

Posted by: jorge at October 11, 2005 12:42 AM


First - The phrase we use to describe any cinematic or literary experience is "willing suspension of disbelief".

Next - The film is intended to get folks to think about and talk about racism on a number of different levels: individual, systemic, political, relational. It does this.

Also - It's the best screenplay of the year, with more incisive lines (not realistic, you concrete thinking art-noobs, but incisive).

Next to Last - A lot of people have trouble with movies where they can't identify someone they can relate to. You're not alone in this. But this film is not intended for an escapist audience.

Last - Stick with movies you're more comfortable with, I guess. Or just go to documentaries that you feel you can trust.

Posted by: Screwy Hoolie at October 11, 2005 04:28 AM

I too rented this over the weekend. I found the movie sad more than anything. There were some elements though that I have seen in daily life.

On Matt Dillon's character being mad at the HMO rep - that tends to be a little generational. When afirmative action came into play some folks were not using it correctly and used it as a quota system. That's what he was mad at, the fact that eventhough his dad had an almost entire black staff it wasn't considered a minority company. He was against jobs being taken away because of race versus a job based on merit.

Secondly, in the past there have been some problems in LA with racial profiling. The LAPD are in a hard spot, if you question the kids dressed like teenagers and they are black or hispanic are you being racist or are you just following statistics? It's not an easy place to be and they have had to fire a few folks who crossed the line in a rather bad manner.

Lastly, the hispanic man's story is one I actually hear from some military folks. Yes they may have been gang members but they were trying to get away from that life and start fresh. He was being treated poorly by the DA's wife for crimes he may have already served his time for. This can happen to inmates regardless of their race.

Some of the dialogue was a bit much. I don't think a DA's assistant would get away with being so smug and nasty in his speech. And overall it was a little over the top in what they were trying to bring across.

I did find the Sandra Bullock enlightenment to be interesting. She realized she had only superfical friends and her trusted friend to help in time of need was her housekeeper.

So there were some real ideas and some far fetched ones. The ending just made me bawl and was a kick in the gut.


Posted by: Household6 at October 11, 2005 11:31 AM

I don't disagree that there were some interesting issues raised by the movie. My husband liked it more than I did, so we talked about it a lot. I know that white people grumble about affirmative action, that men with tattoos aren't always what they seem, and that Sandra Bullock's character was interesting. I just think they kinda beat a dead horse with the race theme. I know LA has problems that Peoria, IL, doesn't, but aren't they used to seeing different races by now and getting over it? Does everyone really see life through Racism Goggles all the time? I know it's supposed to be a movie and it's not 100% Real Life, but it just seemed to be too much to me.

Posted by: Sarah at October 11, 2005 01:02 PM

it's on my netflix queue, i'll have to move it up.

Being from the Bay Area, and having lived in SF and LA, i have to defend LA a little. People think it's some sort of racist city because of Rodney King and the riots, etc. But in SF there are definitely neighborhoods where black folks know they shouldn't go if they don't want to get hassled. Not so in LA, which is pretty well integrated compared to that beacon of tolerance, SF.

Posted by: annika at October 12, 2005 04:37 PM

I hate to break it to you, but most of us do have racial biases. You are lying to your self and to your readers if you believe otherwise. It's an empirical fact!
See here:

Posted by: you are in denial at October 14, 2005 07:23 AM

Sadly Sarah, some people do regardless of their location. I agree I think this was a "Hollywood" version to illustrate a point. That's why I could only pull out a few points that I could agree on. I can really only see a few instances in the movie that happened to me or have touched me in my life somehow. I guess I would be more concerned if they had played it off as a documentry.

Like Annika I too grew up in the Bay Area (East Bay) & my brother has lived in LA for over 10 years. There are prejudice people no matter where you go. If you are lucky you cultivate friends that aren't so closed minded. I've had male friends who were not gay but were walking back to their car and had rocks thrown at them in SF - it was assumed that they were gay. While outside of Japantown my friends & I went to a liqour store to buy beer and I was called a "snowbunny." The snowbunny thing was funny to me at least (can't say about my friends). There are stupid people everywhere - I had a point to this paragraph but I think it got lost...

As for "denial" guy - I never said I was perfect nor that I was completely free from bias. I don't think that anyone can say they are completely free of bias - BUT I ensure that I try to give everyone I meet a chance. I don't just dimiss them mentally & automatically based on race. You usually have to do me wrong before I dismiss you or mistreat my family.


Posted by: Household6 at October 14, 2005 09:44 AM