After dropping out of the band formed by his brothers Isaac, Taylor, and Zac, Tom Hanson became a cop. In Crash, he finds himself partnered with Officer John Ryan, whose gross behavior at a traffic stop prompts Hanson to request a different partner. He doesn't want to work with a racist.
This is his lieutenant's response:
LT. DIXON: I wouldn't be either, which is why I understand your need for privacy, just like I'm sure you understand how hard a Black man must work to get to stay where I am in a racist organization like the LAPD, and how easily that can be taken away. Now, that being said, it's your decision. You can put your career and mine on the line in pursuit of a just cause, or you can admit to having an embarrassing problem of a personal nature.
In short, Dixon, who is Black, wants Hanson to pretend to have gas, not to file a complaint of racism. Why? Because as a Black man, Dixon doesn't want accusations of racism to hurt his own career.
Also, it would probably take a lot of paperwork.
So Hanson doesn't push it. He pretends to have gas, and he gets made fun of for it. That's a lot of ridiculousness to go through so that you don't actually have to file a complaint about racism. But that's the way the characters in this movie roll.
Later, Hanson is put in the uncomfortable situation of having to stand up for Cameron Thayer. When Cameron refuses to back away from an armed officer, Hanson comes between them.
HANSON: Do you wanna die here, huh? Is that what you want? 'Cause these guys really wanna shoot you. And the way you're acting, they'll be completely f***ing justified.
We said "uncomfortable situation," but really, the situation appears to be most uncomfortable for Cameron, a full-grown Black man being spoken to as if he were a child by a white cop. Still, is Hanson's attitude justified? He does save the man's life, even though Cameron didn't ask him to.
Of course, after this encounter, Hanson goes from white savior to killer when he shoots Peter Waters after giving him a ride. Why does he do it? Well, To Hanson, Peter is acting suspicious—though, really, there's nothing that weird about anything he's doing. Things come to a head when Hanson asks Peter to put his hands up, and then Peter, who is really just trying to show Hanson that they have the same religious doodad, makes the mistake of reaching for the doodad to show it to Hanson.
So Hanson, thinking Peter is going to pull a gun, shoots him. Now, there's some irony: Hanson kills Peter even though Peter is acting like Cameron, whose life Hanson just saved. What's the difference? Look at it from Hanson's perspective. How could the situation have gone differently?
Whatever the alternative, we know Hanson wishes he could just go back to singing "MMMbop."