Study Guide

Crash Race

Race

ANTHONY: You expect me to pay for that kind of service?

Anthony criticizes the waitress for treating him as if Black people don't tip, but then he doesn't tip. The not tipping ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. How true is this of other racial stereotypes?

ANTHONY: You couldn't find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city. But this white woman sees two Black guys who look like UCLA students strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us, dawg! Are we dressed like gang-bangers? Huh? No. Do we look threatening? No. Fact, if anybody should be scared around here, it's us. We're the only two Black faces surrounded by a sea of over-caffeinated white people, patrolled by the trigger-happy LAPD. So you tell me, why aren't we scared?

All the characters in this movie talk a lot, which doesn't give other characters an opportunity to question them. So we'll question them. Do you agree with Anthony? If he and Peter weren't armed, would they be afraid of being where they are? What difference would that make?

RICK: Why did these guys have to be Black? I mean, why? No matter how we spin this, I'm either gonna lose the Black vote or I'm gonna lose the law-and-order vote. […] What we need is a picture of me pinning a medal on a Black man.

Rick thinks about race on a superficial level: it's a political headache, as well as a political tool. Is it a bad thing if his intentions are superficial if the outcome is good? To what extent is his attitude still racist?

RICK: He's Iraqi? Well, he looks Black. […] His-His name's Saddam? That's real good, Bruce. I'm gonna pin a medal on an Iraqi named Saddam.

Rick makes a racial mistake, which is embarrassing, but he's also aware of how the public views race—especially Iraqis. Is he doing his public a disservice by avoiding these racial stereotypes instead of addressing them directly?

CHRISTINE: You weren't afraid that all your good friends at the studio were gonna read about you in the morning and realize he's actually Black?

Christine is proud of her Black identity, and by the end of the movie, Cameron learns to accept his, even though it takes a messy confrontation with the cops for him to do so. Still, in the end, both characters are saved by white men.

CAMERON: Sooner or later you gotta find out what it is really like to be Black.

CHRISTINE: F*** you, man. Like you know. The closest you ever came to being Black, Cameron, was watching The Cosby Show. 

What do Cameron and Christine mean by learning "what it is really like to be Black"? What does it mean to be Black? Is there a universal Black experience? What does this movie have to say about it?

ANTHONY: You wanna listen to music of the oppressor, you go right ahead.

PETER: How in the lunacy of your mind is hip-hop music of the oppressor.

ANTHONY: Listen to it, man. N***** this, n***** that! You think people go around calling each other honkies all day? "Hey, honkie! How's business?" "Going great, cracker! We're diversifying!" […] You've got absolutely no idea where hip-hop comes from, do you? […] You see, back in the '60s, we had smart Black articulate Black men. Like Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Fred Hampton. These brothers were speaking out, and people were listening. And then, the FBI said, "Oh, no! We can't have that! I know! Let's give the n*****s this music by a bunch of mumbling idiots, and sooner or later they'll all copy it, and nobody'll be able to understand a f***ing word they say! End of problem."

This sounds crazy—and it probably is—but this theory wasn't created for Crash. Some people believe this is true. It's one of those strange conspiracy theories that people like to throw out there just for the heck of it.

FRED: This is weird for a white guy to say, but have you noticed he's talking a lot less "Black" lately? […] Like in this scene, he's supposed to say "don't be talkin' 'bout that", and he changed it to "don't talk to me about that."

CAMERON: You think because of that the audience won't recognize him as a Black man? […]

FRED: All I'm saying is it's not his character. Eddie is supposed to be the smart one, not Jamal, right? You're the expert here, but to me it rings false.

Well, that's awkward. First of all, Fred is expecting a Black man to speak in only one way. On top of that, that way of speaking is supposed to be understood by the audience as less educated, even less intelligent. In fact, Fred basically says that if you sound "Black," that means you're dumb.

CHOP SHOP GUY: Don't be ignorant. They're Thai or Cambodian. Entirely different kind of chinks.

This guy may be racist, but at least he gets the races right, we guess—unlike the vandals who confused Farhad's family for Arabs. But this guy is also willing to do human trafficking, so there goes any sympathy we had for him. Never trust a smart racist, folks. Never trust any racist, actually.

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