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What the movie "Crash" shows about race relations
For any of you who have seen the film "Crash," you know that there are a wealth of interracial interactions on many levels that you see develop throughout the film. Interracial friendships can improve race relations in increasing or familiarizing contact between different ethnicities. The text explained this in its discussion of the benefits of racially diverse schools, for instance; such schools resulted in “greater civic engagement,” greater likelihood of living in integrated neighborhoods and maintaining contacts; and increased likelihood of working with positive experiences in integrated environments. Also, interracial friendships are a real predictor of “other-group” orientation, and allowed for more comfortable interactions with other races. "Restrictions“on interactions between two racial groups can have “an adverse effect on meaningful racial contact,” which implies that friendships and other contact is the more beneficial way to go.
There are several barriers to building interracial friendships, including stereotypes, mistrust, and intentionality vs. emotionality. Several examples of these barriers are demonstrated in “Crash.” For instance, Sandra Bullock’s character was affected by having their vehicle stolen by a minority, and so she stereotyped all minorities negative and thus prevented herself from having positive interactions with her locksmith Daniel, among others. This also has a degree of mistrust to it, as does shopkeeper Farhad’s reaction to Daniel telling him he needs a new lock on the door; Farhad thought Daniel was just trying to cheat him when really there was a misunderstanding between the different languages. I think this also relates to intentionality, in that Farhad thought Daniel was purposefully trying to harm him; confrontation and honest communication could have solved this. Now that I write this, I think it’s interesting how so many of these barrier concepts interrelate and connect; they are all negative and connections between them make it more so!
many characters are heroes in their own ways. It really depends on the definition case by case; even though the question asks for a hero/heroine in the sense of intercultural communication goals, I personally think those can be somewhat vague, still. The text explains many reasons for studying intercultural communication, including shifts in racial and ethnic composition and the importance of race in societies, and states that productive race relations are only possible through effective communication practices. Therefore, for the purposes of this question, a character who practices effective communication could be considered the hero or heroine of the film. (This doesn’t mean yelling and screaming, like between the Thayers in their bedroom or between Farhad and Daniel in the shop). And then some people find some modes of communication more or less effective than others…
I feel there were many actions that spoke louder than words in the film, including some of the most powerful moments of the film, such as Officer Ryan saving Mrs. Thayer from her car, or the look on Peter’s face as he is shot by Tommy, and then Don Cheadle’s face as he realizes the man who was shot is his brother. Ludacris freeing the immigrants from the van rather than turning them in for money was very powerful as well.
With all of this in mind, it is hard to identify anyone as a hero or heroine in working toward goals for intercultural communication. Nearly everyone seems to make some progress, and yet they all have faults as well. I see Daniel as one of the more honorable men in the film, in that he faces much discrimination for his appearance, and yet understands his social location and remains patient and as civil as possible, even with Jean and Farhad, when communicating. He maintains as much dignity as he can without succumbing to the stereotypes he faces when speaking with the other characters.