Theme of Racism in the Movie ‘Crash’: Psychological Significance

Racism is a pervasive evil in the multicultural society of America, with racial discrimination being comply found in employment practices (Barnes and Owen, 2005).

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The film ‘Crash’ is symbolic of the perils of a multi-cultural society and the resultant evils of racism attached to it and is a very strong film, depicting a series of events of the entwined lives of diverse individuals including the Whites, the Blacks, the Asians, the Iranians and the Latinos of New York city. The film is a classic prophetic portrayal of the racism and the resultant stress between the characters, whether the rich or poor, the cops or villains and the resultant psychological problems which surface due to the perceived racial discrimination (Barnes and Owen, 2005).

The film is cast in the city of New York and highlights the issues of prejudice while living in such diverse societies. The director uses co-incidence and disaster to merge the lives of the numerous characters, highlighting the fact that racist prejudices are likely to plague the human mind at some point of time or other. The movie attempts to scrutinize these racist feelings and the likely consequences resulting from them. Research confirms that racism leads to physiological and psychological stress, which in turn has a direct impact on blood pressure levels (Armstead, Lawler, Gorden, Cross, & Gibbons, 1989) and disturbing negative thoughts and emotions like anger and fury (Thompson, 1996). For instance, in the incidents between the racist cop and Newton, the cop manhandles her during a routine traffic stop. However, later in the film, when the cop tries to rescue her from a traffic accident, she resists his approach, prejudiced by the earlier incident that he may be trying to physically assault her again. This is a classic example of how the prejudiced assumptions of people can prevent them from visioning the true person. In another incident, Sandra Bullock is portrayed voicing racist anti-Hispanic comments in the company of Pena’s locksmith. In an ironic scene, later in the film, she falls down the stairs with no one but her Hispanic maid to help her.

Researchers have also affirmed the correlation of racism to total psychiatric symptoms such as somatization and obsessive compulsive symptoms and unnatural fears such as those depicted by the characters under the influence of severe racism (Klonoff, Landrine, and Ullman, 1999). The movie is an effective portrayal of the racial prejudices and preconceived notions deeply embedded in us, which resurface time and again. By way of the ironic turn of events, the movie aims to bring forth the racial fears in humans, and efficiently signals to the casting away of those fears, so that humans are accepted in the true light, not as stereotypes of Latinos, Asians, Hispanics, Blacks or Whites.

Perceived racial discrimination is also believed to result in inter personal sensitivity, depression and helplessness (Branscombe, Schmitt, & Harvey, 1999) as is apparent through the rapid turn of events in the movie.Thus the film is reprehensive of a multi-cultural society which encompasses diverse races co-existing together, yet when a demanding situation arises, the innermost feelings of racism and prejudice dominate the mind. The film reflects the sad tale of the modern society where racism is no longer openly accepted, yet, is harbored in the minds and hearts of the people. In spite of living together, the film depicts the failure of human kind in abandoning the racist feelings for fellow humans, which very often leads to misjudgments and failure to see the actual truth. The film effectively exposes the doubts in the minds of people when dealing with people of different cultures, races, societies and religions, in the face of a disaster.

References

Armstead, C. A., Lawler, K. A., Gorden, G., Cross, J., & Gibbons, J. (1989). Relationship of racial stressors to blood pressure responses and anger expression in Black college students. Health Psychology, 8, 541-556.

Barnes, Peter W., and Owen Richard Lightsey Jr. (2005). Perceived racist discrimination, coping, stress, and life satisfaction. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development 33.1: 48(14).

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Branscombe, N. R., Schmitt, M. T., & Harvey, R. D. (1999). Perceiving pervasive discrimination among African Americans: Implications for group identification and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 135-149.

Klonoff, E. A., & Landrine, H. (1999). Cross validation of the Schedule of Racist Events. Journal of Black Psychology, 25, 231-254.

Klonoff, E. A., Landrine, H., & Ullman, J. B. (19991. Racial discrimination and psychiatric symptoms among Blacks. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, 329-339.

Thompson, V. L. (1996). Perceived experiences of racism as stressful life events. Community Mental Health Journal, 32, 223-233.

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