Discrimination and Prejudice in the Film “Crash”


The film “Crash” represents a multi-racial setting whereby a number of societal disorders such as negative stereotyping of racial minorities is carried on through various characters in the Movie. African American, Latinos and Asians form the group of persons who suffer the consequences of negative stereotyping enhanced by the white American population. The movie gives us the implication that the perpetrators of the discrimination and all the negative stereotyping do learn from their mistakes, but not in a manner justifiable to every race represented in the movie, where the audience constitutes each race represented in the movie.

Stereotypes of Asian and African Americans

There are various stereotypes expressed in the movie through various characters as against African Americans, Asians and Latinos. A stereotype that cuts across all the groups is that they are persons of ill repute. They are treated as social misfits and indecent to exist in the society where decent people are.

The first example of this kind of stereotypical regard of African American, Latinos and Asians is when the police pulls over a couple, simply because they are African American and goes further to humiliate both of them by abusing the wife during frisking because he had thoughts that being African American she was an indecent woman, and making the husband watch as he did the heinous act, a disgrace to the African America Community.

The reaction of Sandra Bullock when she meets two African American students on the streets when walking with her husband also shows a negative perception of the African American community. She clang to him in fear as if the two students had expressed intent in harming her. This stereotypical belief portrays African Americans as violent, thieves and social misfits.

Lastly, the Latino locksmith was presumed to be a “gang banger”, judging just from the way he was dressed up. Looking at how someone shaves the hair or the tattoos on the body is not reason enough to construe someone in the most negative ways simply because he is of a different racial affiliation.

How does the white female (Sandra Bullock) in this film portray discrimination towards the Latin population (Locksmith & Housekeeper)

Sandra Bullock shows discrimination towards the Latin population represented in the movie through her interaction with the locksmith and the housekeeper. As stated above, she presumed that locksmith was a ‘gang banger’ just looking at the dress code. This is discrimination of the highest order.

Judging from her interaction with the house help, she makes several complaints about how the housekeeper of Hispanic origin cannot perform her duties effectively and thus cannot deliver what she expects of her. She speaks in a way that exalts her as a white woman and demeans the Hispanic housekeeper. However, as the movie ends, she realizes the Hispanic housekeeper was faultless and sees her a best friend.

Majority and Minority Groups in the Film

The film represents a multicultural society with a majority group and many minority groups. In this movie, the majority and the white Americans whereas the minority groups are represented by the African American, Latinos and the Asians. Just to highlight the characters that represent these groups, Sandra Bullock, the district attorney and the cops are a representation of the white majority. Detective Graham and the two students are a representation of African American community, Detective Graham’s a representation of American of Portorican origin, the locksmith and family representing Latinos, the shop owner and the lady who caused an accident representing the Asian community.

The assertion that Sandra Bullock and company of white American represented the majority group in the movie is drawn from their treatment of the other remaining groups. The other groups where surrounded by various stereotypical beliefs, where treated badly by white Americans whereas white American such as Sandra Bullock even boasted of certain privileges that others were not enjoying.

How police brutality relate to racial prejudice and discrimination: Scene with the Crooked Cop and the African American Couple

Police brutality has been used in the movie to enhance the theme of racial prejudice and discrimination. The police officer, John, wrongfully pulls over a couple of African American decent. He decides to frisk the wife and feels her up as her husband watches with the thought that she was a lady of ill character.

The police officer, discriminated against African American women as been indecent ladies and thus decided to do with the lady as he frisked her. This is a racially discriminatory act and using the position of a police officer to enhance such an act indicates the theme that carries along in the movie; racial discrimination and prejudice.

Significance of the Film; Relation to Sociology and Social Inequality

 The film can be a significant tool in learning about intercultural ethics and how to interact when in a multicultural context. Lessons can be drawn from the actions of various characters in the movie. Any individual living in a community dominated by persons of different cultures and races will learn proper ways of acting whenever exposed to such persons.

By way of examples from the film, there is a young policer officer who was with Officer John at the time he harassed the African American couple but did nothing; he later saved an African American man from the bullet of other white police officer. Sandra Bullock who used to blame ethnic minorities for her problems later discovers that her best friend lies within these minority groups and Officer John later saves the African American woman he had harassed from a deadly accident. This shows the process of learning and positive learning in a multiethnic community.

After watching this film, do you have a different view about minority and race relations?  Did you find this film powerful or disturbing?  Give me your opinion.

Anyone who holds certain prejudices against racial minorities should probably drop them after watching this film. I have help the position that everyone should be judged on their personality; not race, culture or colour of skin. This position remain even after watching the film. The film painfully points out some of the ills that carry on in today’s societies and top among these evils include ethnic, racial and cultural discrimination. In as much as film passes a powerful message as regards to these sorts of discrimination, it is rather disturbing. Taking the example Sandra Bullock, she blames her discrimination of minorities on her problems and she is forgiven by the likes of Mara who even hugs her. People should not be allowed to make such excuses for discriminating against others.


People should exist peacefully in multicultural settings without any sort of discrimination, this is the message passed in this film. Such types of discrimination brings discord and anguish to the society.



Barker, Martin, Jane Arthurs, and Ramaswami Harindranath. The Crash controversy: censorship campaigns and film reception. Wallflower Press, 2001.

Hsu, Hsuan L. “Racial privacy, the LA ensemble film, and Paul Haggis’s Crash.” Film Criticism 31.1/2 (2006): 132.

Orbe, Mark P., and Etsuko Kinefuchi. “Crash under investigation: Engaging complications of complicity, coherence, and implicature through critical analysis.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 25.2 (2008): 135-156.




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