Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Rather than tracing a main character throughout the movie, Crash (watch it on mediacast here)
traces the construction of race throughout the film. Try not to watch the movie literally, because it is obviously implausible that these characters are so interrelated. Instead, watch the movie and think about race metaphorically. There are many ways in which race shows up in the movie. Race is really what is interrelated to all the characters. Race is much more complex than the black and white way it is often portrayed. Race can be related to language, social class, religion, skin color, power, and other social constructs. Sometimes race divides people we would normally put in the same racial category. Sometimes race leads to explicit racism and sometimes it is implicit. The movie allows for viewers to interpret based on their own racialized ideas:
For example: Assumptions about the locksmith and robbing the store, or assumptions about the 2 young car thieves, or what was in the car thief’s pocket in the off duty cop’s car. Other moments when this happens:
What did you think Ludacris will do with the van and the people? Sell Them?
What did you think the business was that the Asian man was doing early in the movie before we saw the people in the van?
The movie looks at both explicit and implicit racism. But the question the movie implores us to explore is which is worse? The young cop tries really hard to not be explicitly racist, but he doesn’t realize the implicitly racist ways that he has been shaped. He assumes that the young black kid was not ice skating and is laughing at him and that he is reaching for a weapon.
The movie highlights that because we live in a society obsessed with race, our difficulties in our lives can be manifested into racism even though the real problem is social class, money and job opportunities, health problems, etc…
Another theme highlighted in the movie is that individuals might not be racist (or might be trying to overcome it) but they live in a larger society with racist dynamics. For example, the detective has to deal with his mom feeling that he left the family behind because he became a detective and got an education and moved out of the neighborhood. Another example is the tv director who has his own ideas about the show but he is forced to succumb to the will of the white producer who has his own ideas.
Here are some sociological questions to consider after watching the movie:
If race is not scientifically based, what is it based on?
What are some of the characteristics that our society uses to define race? What scenes/characters highlight differences that are not biological, but refer to “race”? Are there any moments in your life when you learned that race is not related to biology or science?
What are some stereotypes that are not true?
What are some of the stereotypes in the movie that characters hold that are not true? Which characters hold stereotyped beliefs about others in the movie and what were they? How were these stereotypes not true? Have you ever held a stereotype that you later found to be untrue? Have you ever felt stereotyped by someone?
Implicit vs. Explicit racism;What are some examples of explicit and implicit racism in the movie? Do you think that the hidden nature of implicit racism might make it just as volatile as explicit racism? Is it valuable to become aware of implicit racism and how our society shapes these attitudes? Thinking about the IAT test we did in class, how might implicit racism be a part of you? How does society shape us?
What can we do about racism?
Using the movie as an example, what can be done to help reduce the racism in society? How should some of the racist incidents be handled so as to minimize the racism in America? What can you do in your own life?
Race is more than a black and white issue…
What are some examples from the movie that show the idea of race is not just a black or white issue and instead race is much more complicated? What scenes/characters show this idea? Do you think that simplifying race to a black-white issue continues to create confusion over race issues in America?