There are many movies that show the public perceptions about psychology, which are strongly influenced by the media. The information presented in the media can be sympathetic and enlightening. They can extend the stigma often associated with mental and/ or behaviors, disorders, as well as a broad range of psychological issues. Paul Haggis showed racism, prejudice, discrimination, and attitudes of different ethnic groups in the movie Crash. Crash shows societies racial-discrimination through schemas, how stereotypes and the primary effect influence the characters, and their processes of social cognition.
Paul Haggis showed the hatred and racial-discrimination portrayed by individuals based on their ethnicity. Every ethnic group has certain stereotypes known about them; these stereotypes influence others views about them. In Crash, individuals who are white, African American, Latino, Iranian, Asian, and Mexican crash together. Each character was linked to all the others through an event. The setting is in Los Angles where many races collide together in a series of nonviolent and violent encounters.
Crash begins by showing the lives of the main characters and the psychological issues the go through each day, because of the prejudice based on the stereotypes that prevent each individual from seeing the other person for who he or she is, thus showing the terrible expanding the self-fulfilling prophecies. Many of the characters have been through some king of experience, which led to the way they are. Officer John Ryan plays the racist white cop, because when his father owned a company, he paid the African Americans equal wages and worked with them side by side.
Then one day the city council made an affirmative action, which was to give minorities contracts, so after that his father lost everything including his wife, job, and home. Ryan became racist after that, because he was affected personally by that event. He believes that his father’s life was ruined by those African American employees. Now his father has prostate cancer, but is diagnosed wrong with a Urinary tract infection; the African American HMO clerk would not give his father permission to see another doctor. In return Ryan takes out his frustration on an African American couple during a traffic stop by groping n the women, while her husband is standing unable to do anything. Continuing on, when District Attorney Rick Cabot and Jean Cabot were walking down the sidewalk, Jean notices two African American men (Anthony and Peter) walking toward her, so she holds Rick’s arm for protection. Jean Cabot acted that way because she believes in the stereotypes that are said about African Americans, such as they are violent. She reacted to the fear by holding Rick’s arm. Jeans self-fulfilling prophecy is confirmed when Anthony and Peter carjack them at gunpoint. Then Jean was unwilling to change the schema by apply it with the Mexican locksmith.
When she seen the locksmith working in her home, she became prejudice by saying he was going to sell the house keys to his gang members. She applied the stereotype that Mexicans with shaved heads, pants beneath the waist, and with tattoos are gang members. Her schema did not fit because the locksmith gave her all the house keys, and her expectations were not confirmed (Crash 2004). Furthermore, when Anthony the African American was talking about how white people are racist, and think every African American is violent, he fulfilled Jean Cabot’s expectations by carjacking them.
And when he was said that the African American waitress did treat them well because of the stereotype that African Americans do not tip. He fulfilled her expectations too by not paying the tip. Second example of racism in the movie is when Ria the Latino detective got into a car accident at the beginning of the movie. She started say racial comments about the Asian women. Including Asians do not know how to drive, which is a stereotype. She at the end told the officer to write that the Asian women hit her, and kept walking to the crime seen.
Another example is Officer Tommy Hansen who requested a change in partners after feeling guilty about what happened to the African American couple. Later on in the movie, Hansen picks up Peter an African American who was hitch-hiking. Hansen shows that he is prejudice and racist by always thinking of the stereotypes. Hansen quickly refuses to listen to Peter when he is comparing the both of them, such as the country music. And as Peter was trying to show him the same statue he has, Hansen assumes Peter was reaching for a gun, therefore he shoots Peter (Crash 2004).
Moreover, Farhan the Persian store owner gets racially harassed, even though he has the American citizenship. When he goes to buy a gun, the store owner harasses them by making prejudice and racist comments (Crash 2004). The store owner makes comments about Arabic people, thinking the Farhan and his daughter are Arabic. From his previous experience of hatred and racism, Farhan believes the locksmith is cheating him, when Daniel tells him the door needs to be changed. When his store is broken in to, Farhan blames Daniel for what happened, and believed that it was motivated by race.
Farhan only want to be treated equally just like other Americans, but he is not just because of the stereotypes of how Arabic people look, make him the same, which links him to be a terrorist. Social psychology which is a scientific study if the ways in which the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of one individual are influenced by the real, imagined, or inferred behavior or characteristics of other people. The racism, prejudice, discrimination shown by the characters are related to social psychology by how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the individuals are influenced by stereotypes of the different ethnicities.
For example, when Jean Cabot held her husbands arm because she felt fear when the two African American guys were walking toward her, she had in mind the stereotypes about African Americans being violent. In the same way, the impact of schemas on Social Cognition is displayed by the character Jean Cabot when she was walking down the sidewalk. First she saw two men walking towards her; the first thing she noticed was they were African American. She encoded what she saw she believed the two men to be a threat, because stereotypically African American are associated with violence.
She responses by holding her husbands arm for safety. The primary effect is shown when Jean was being stereotypical about Mexicans that have tattoos, bald heads, and pants under the waist being gang members. This influenced her impression on the locksmith when she thinks he is part of a gang and is going to sell her house keys to his gang members, which does not confirm to her expectations by giving Jean all the keys back (Crash 2004). The Thomas Theorem says, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences (Merton 1995). ” Meaning if an individual believes in omething such as a stereotype or rumor, then those believes will come true by the individual’s actions. This happened when Jean Cabot got held her husbands arm because she was afraid of the two African American men (Crash 2004). She believes in the stereotypes that African Americans are violent. From her believing in that and her action, it led to her being carjacked at gunpoint by the two African American men. Also, when Farhan believed that the Mexican locksmith was cheating him, which led to his action of him going to his locksmith’s house and shooting his daughter.
Additionally, the concept of Micro-Aggression is when a person says a racist comment but is subtle about it (Solorzano). The character that is an example of micro-aggression is the African American movie director. When his colleague tells him that he should change the language of the African American actor, it doesn’t seem real; he should make the language “More black”. This event and the event when his wife is molested in front of him by the white cop leading to his break down, which is when the cops follow him and Anthony and he is almost shot to death.
Crash is based on the way different ethnic groups crash together because of the different beliefs, race, and nationality. Everyone has been discriminated against, and or prejudiced. There should be a mandatory class that should be taken at the elementary school level that teaches about multiculturalism. The experiment of Jane Elliot should be performed to put people in each others places. Just like the students realized that it was wrong and horrible to be racist, prejudice against other people just because they are different.
There would be a difference in the way people treat and view each other if they are more educated about multiculturalism. Crash portrayed the characterization of this issue accurately. As societies become more diverse racism increases. This is shown in high schools, where racial tensions are increasing. The movie teaches a good lesson of how dangerous and terrible racism is, which makes people want to become more tolerant and open to others that are different.
The movie makes us know that just because everyone believes something about a group of people does not mean it is right. The movie shows that people can change for the better overtime. Just like Anthony made the right decision at the end of the movie by letting the Asian kids free, not selling them. The movie shows that racism affects everyone. There was no negative message in the movie, because as an individual sees it they want to become better and prevent racism from happening.
Lastly, Crash was a great movie that showed how past experiences, and stereotypes affect the individuals act. The two main theories that showed why the events happened the why they did and why people act a certain way are Thomas and Micro-Aggression Theorems. Racial-discrimination in societies is acted upon through schemas, stereotypes and the influences on characters processes of social cognition. Each character is shown as a bad person and a good person. At the end the characters realized the truth about themselves and that it was wrong to racist.