Worst Movie Of The Decade

Postbougie names Crash.

The film goes about making this very dubious point in the most ham-fisted ways imaginable. The bitter, racist white cop played by Matt Dillon gets into an argument with a black insurance company employee and proceeds to tell her that his dad helped black people and calls her a lazy affirmative action hire. (This is how almost all of the interactions in the movie play out.)  Later he pulls over a black TV exec (Terrance Howard) and his wife (Thandie Newton) who are driving home from some function. It's made clear that he pulled them over because Howard is a black man driving a fancy car. Dillon revels in the skewed power dynamic of the traffic stop, antagonizing Howard and molesting  Newton while his horrified partner (Ryan Phillippe) looks on.  Later, in the movie's big action set piece, Newton's character is trapped in a burning car and -- improbably but perhaps predictably -- the first responder is Dillon, who risks his life to save her. This is supposed to be redemption for his racism and his earlier sexual assault of Newton.  (Or something.)

Before we go any further, I need to admit that several people who I love and respect actually like Crash. I need let them know that I don't hold this against them, and I still love and respect them--though, with Crash in mind, more the former than the latter.

With that said, I don't think there's a single human being in Crash. Instead you have arguments and propaganda violently bumping into each other, impressed with their own quirkiness. ("Hey look, I'm a black carjacker who resents being stereotyped.") But more than a bad film, Crash, which won an Oscar (!),  is the apotheosis of a kind of unthinking, incurious, nihilistic, multiculturalism. To be blunt, nothing tempers my extremism more than watching a fellow liberal exhort the virtues of Crash.

If you're angry about race, but not particularly interested in understanding why, you probably like Crash. If you're black and believe in the curative qualities of yet another "dialogue around race," you probably liked Crash. If you're white and voted for Barack Obama strictly because he was black, you probably liked Crash. If you've ever used the term "post-racial" or "post-black" in a serious conversation, without a hint of irony, you probably liked Crash.

And I swear if any of you defend the film, I'm going to ban you. Not just from this site, not just from the Internet, but from all public life. Don't test me. My armies are legion.

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In