Essay on Crash movieThe theme of prejudice versus the need for connecting in the movie Crash
The title of the movie Crash refers to a series of stories where seemingly random people cross each other’s way, and these coincidental events affect their lives. In this paper, the emphasis is on one character, officer John Ryan, played by Matt Dillon. Analyzing his actions and feelings about those actions will give the audience a better understanding of what the movie aims at communicating.
John Ryan is a police officer in L. A. for more than 17 years. His racist views are not a secret anymore in his environment; however, his title and career have so far kept him away from getting into any trouble because of his behavior. The chain of events in which the officer appears creates a complex network of plotlines that illustrates the development of the character. In the first scene in which he appears, the viewer sees him in a low-class restaurant, talking on the phone.
From the conversation we understand that his father has a serious illness and needs urgent help. However, the operator from the hospital, a black woman, refuses to help; Mr. Ryan gets upset and insults her in terms of her racial background. In the next scene he participates in, he is driving his service-car, following closely an SUV with a couple inside. He saw the woman giving fellatio to her black husband while he was driving. This in fact could be considered breaking the law; however, pulling the couple over is clearly a result of Officer Ryan’s prejudice. He humiliates both the man and the lady in this scene.
The next events take place in the policeman’s home during nighttime. His father is in the bathroom having a problem urinating, and he asks for help from his son. Here, the viewer can see the protagonist’s deep emotions towards his father’s suffering. Therefore, the next day he enters a hospital and requests a meeting with the black lady he had talked to on the phone. The situation remains unsolved because Shaniqua Johnson again refuses to take any actions to help the sick father. Her attitude appears to be caused by the previous racist remarks of Mr. Ryan; even though he apologizes in the beginning of their conversation, she remains distant. The officer is unable to keep himself away from insulting the black lady by saying “I can’t look at you without thinking about the five or six more qualified white man who didn’t get your job.” The event shows that the character is emotionally confused and unable to separate his feelings from the problem, which needs immediate solution.
Afterwards, the viewer is taken to a scene of a car accident, where the victim is the lady who had been previously molested by Mr. Ryan. The situation is a matter of life and death. The lady is stuck in the car while the gasoline is leaking from the reservoir, and there is already a fire; obviously, an explosion is about to occur any second now. When she sees the officer, she immediately refuses his help, terrified of the memory of him; she persists until she becomes aware of the fact that he is her only chance. The accident is very likely to have been a repercussion caused indirectly by the officer’s previous behavior. He saves her life while risking his own. This event depicts the character already possibly realizing the unaccountable effects of his previous behavior. He seems to be having an internal conflict at this point. He gradually comes to realize that his anger and aggressive attitude towards, after all, random strangers, is rather an echo of his unbearable worry about his father that he had merely channeled into discrimination. This, in the end, is the major message of the movie, among many others.
To sum up, the movie Crash unfolds simultaneously a number of initially independent plotlines, gradually interweaving them and uniting them under the common theme of prejudice versus the need for connecting. The highlight storyline is that of the most likely protagonist, officer Ryan - a classical example of a good man pushed to racial stereotyping by a chain of unfortunate circumstances concerning the dearest to him, his sick father. As illustrated by the aforementioned few scenes from the movie, it is through his encounter with the other plotlines and the other character’s misfortunes, as well as his innate drive to connect with people, that officer Ryan realizes by himself the truth about his racist attitudes. Namely, the truth that discrimination is a combination of personal over-stress with a series of wrong coincidences with people, whose racial or ethnical background, in the end, proves to not matter at all.