Last night at the Academy Awards “Crash” took home the Oscar for best picture. The film starring Matt Dillon and Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow) has been acredited with deconstructing the race issue in America by exposing the human frailties of its multi-racial cast of characters.
Indeed at first glance this collision course of incredible coincidence seems to push the limits by painting a provocative and ground breaking picture of race relations in the city of Los Angeles. However when everything is said and done, “Crash” is nearly as safe a flick as “Gone With The Wind.”
Just as it has been done for years in Hollywood, the roll of the black male in this movie is quickly reduced to that of weakness and ignorance. At every turn, the black man is portrayed as either powerless or out of control (Howard) while the white man gets away with murder, and more specifically in Dillon’s case, saves the day (that is, saves the life of a black women he initially harasses both racially and sexually).
Furthermore Dillon’s cop character is classic American myth!
Although it is established early on that he is deeply flawed, it is ultimately suggested that his sins are to be forgiven due to his heroics. Because Dillon’s character is never held accountable for his repugnance and moreover in the end romanticized, “Crash” does more to uphold the subconscious structures of white supremacy than destroy them.
If you have seen “Crash” and disagree with this synopsis I challenge you to watch it again and re-analyze what is so different about this movie in regards to race? It may not be as traditional an approach as the “Legend of Bagger Vance,” but it does not do much to actually test the underlying themes of racism in hollywood nor America.
In the end, acceptance and accolades for such a cinematic statement could be very harmful if left unchecked.
Think about it.