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.
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