Sociological Themes in the Movie “Crash 2005”

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“Crash” is movie that was directed by Paul Haggis, and released in 2005 as a social commentary concerning social and racial pressures in Los Angeles. In the beginning of the film, one of the black characters, Graham Waters, says that he believed that Los Angeles did not have any touch sense between people, and that individuals crashed into each other with an aim of wanting to feel something. In essence, a touch is a form of human connection, while the word feel is used to mesmerize an emotional sense. In a society, people want to have associations with one another, be moved and experience a shared human existence. Although there are very many peripheral issues in the society that divide humans, their search for a common human connection persists (Taulbee, 2006). This search for a shared connection between humans in the society provides the movie “Crash”, with various sociological themes that will be explored in this paper, especially the theme of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and global inequality, social structure and interactions.

Gender and Sexuality

            The film has shown the manner in which people’s connection with one another can be hindered by gender roles. Especially, “Crash” has examined the traditional role of men of providing and protecting. In a particular scene, Cameron, who is a film director of African American origin is pulled over together with his wife by John Ryan, who is a racist officer of police. Soon the police officer starts checking for weapons and frisks Cameron’s wife in a sexually manner. The wife expected her husband to protect her, but Cameron responds to the officer with no aggression. The wife goes ahead to accuse her husband of permitting the police officer to humiliate her so that the people he worked with would not read about the incident in the papers and realize that he was black. However, it could be argued that Cameron was torn between his role as a protector and as a provider because if he lost his job as a result of the incident, he would not be able to provide for his family, but this strain of role is perceived as precipitated by the encountered discrimination based on race. On the other hand, Cameron is portrayed as angry concerning his wife’s initial hostility towards the officer despite his orders to comply, which according to Cameron was reckless. This same recklessness brought them trouble, and the wife ended up wounding his pride by making him feel insufficient.

Race and Ethnicity

The conflicts that are portrayed in the film are shown to have been rooted on unfounded conjectures and fears concerning race and ethnicity other than individual’s own. The film has explored many interconnected plots that vividly portray the dilemmas and complexities established by distorted attitudes towards the skin color of people. For example, in the scene of the shopkeeper that is half American and half Iranian, due to his manner of talking and his looks, the neighbors presumed that he was Arab, which is a race that was judged an intolerable. Due to this assumption, when his store was robbed, no neighbor empathized with him and the looters felt no tinge of guilt in their actions. However, the shopkeeper was guilty of ethnocentrism as evidenced in the manner he treated the locksmith. Since the locksmith was a Latino, even though he was very hard working and was an ideal worker, he was suspected to be a member of a gang by the shopkeeper, and fears that he would set up another robbery after repairing the locks. Throughout, the film has portrayed varying appearances of racism and ethnocentrism among the characters and the incorporated plots (Hsu, 2006).

Class and Global Inequality

            The movie explores the theme of class and global disparity in the contrast of the characters. For instance, the director, who is from African American Origin together with his wife are portrayed to belong in the upper class both in terms of income and education. The director has a good job that he protects and is able to provide for his family’s financial needs. On the other hand, the detective, who is also from African American origin, has worked his way up into a middle class employment, although his mother is an addict of drugs and his brother is involved in unlawful activities. The movie has also shown the District Attorney’s wife that lives in the wealthy neighborhoods, in Brentwood location of Los Angeles, who because of her class cannot have connections with the nanny, who is a struggling Latina due to her class in the society (Taulbee, 2006).

Social Structure

            In the movie, gender and race are considered as social constructions and not physical qualities. The film depicts the Los Angeles District Attorney fraught to reclaim his public appearance among the voters of black origin by seeking an African American that he could publicly reward. However, although he considered a firefighter that was black who had courageously executed his job, another person says that the firefighter was no black but Iraqi. It is clear that the District Attorney did not know the background of the firefighter as he had no idea that he was Iraqi, but believed him to be African American. According to this scene, it is evident that the racial categories were established and used by people, but the categories failed to comprehensively say much concerning an individual’s true natural heritage and culture. In addition, in another scene of the film, the detective is shown referring to his love partner as Mexican, while she confirms she was not by telling him that her father was from Puerto Rico and her mother from El Salvador.


            In a society interactions entail manners of actions occurring as people have effects upon one another. “Crash” has depicted various forms of interactions that hinder connections in the Los Angeles society. For example, an innocent woman is humiliated by the police officer, a suffering man is capriciously denied services by the HMO representative, and a man that is outraged purchases a gun to seek revenge against a man that is innocent (Cheadle, Harris, Schulman, Moresco & Haggis, Moresco, 2004).


The director of this film had the intention of showing the horrible outcomes of racism by using characters that mirror countless individuals whose assumptions hinder them from seeing the real persons around them. He has ensured that the film portrays the consequences that people in the society endure when they fail to completely consider other people that they inhabit the world with. Paul Haggis has carefully made the audience examine the manner in which people view every walk of life, and shows the outcomes of compromising the basic beliefs of humans as well as the manner in which people in a society live with the outcomes.

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