Academy Award Winning film Crash portrays numerous intercultural interactions as the characters encounter each other throughout the course of the movie. It emphasizes its crash metaphor and the relational tensions resulting from the interracial experiences. Approaching this film’s message through metaphor gives it a greater depth; as metaphor itself gives a greater understanding of language and meaning, the film’s crash metaphor connects the multi-faceted relations between people of differing culture.
The crash metaphor used throughout the movie makes an accurate point in the relationship between culture and race. The film depicts literal car crashes that reflect the crashing cultures and races in the interactions shown throughout the story. Every encounter happens between two people of differing backgrounds, and each one generates tension, ultimately leading to a collision of some sort.
Another metaphor that would capture the essence of Crash would be that the relationship between race and culture is a scapegoat relationship. This starts with the fact that such distinctions between races exist in the first place. Each person holds his own notions of the world and the people within it; this includes stereotypes. While these may exist from experience and can capture possible general characteristics, every individual holds his own uniqueness. Though everyone is unique, everyone needs a scapegoat. People attack the differences in others as they target them.
As the movie progresses, the tensions grow stronger between the characters. All of them commit an act that uses another as their scapegoat, an action they cannot erase. This leads to the question of whether or not they can redeem themselves for using these innocent people cultural scapegoats. Several of the characters receive the opportunity to either interact more appropriately towards the character they have wronged or to improve their behavior in general by treating another individual better than they had the person they wronged. One notable instance of his happens when Ludacris’s character Anthony shows a change in attitude at the end of the movie. At the beginning, the audience witnesses him and his brother stealing a car, an act implied as familiar to them. Anthony holds negative views of how white people view him, in his eyes immediately deeming him a lesser person, and approaches his behavior in a manner consistent with treating them with equal distaste. His final scene shows him freeing a group of Asians who had been chained to the inside of a van he stole. While he could keep them on their track to slavery, getting a lot of money in the process, he lets them go. This hints at a progression of perception alteration.
In the case of Anthony, audiences see an increase in his awareness for the relationships between people of differing cultures, a key message of the crash metaphor. Each interaction generates a greater awareness of the tension and racial discrimination prevalent in the overall American culture.
Metaphor enhances the understanding of language and meaning. As words create and reflect the world around us and our individual perceptions of it, they also create and reflect the depth of that world and those perceptions. A metaphor connects two objects unlikely on the surface, instantly giving it a greater depth. Take this film as an example; it overtly utilizes the crash metaphor to generate thought on race relationships. The concept of a crash indicates a harsh collision, emphasizing the deep tension between the characters.
A metaphor also gives a greater understanding of meaning through the words used in it and the connections made as a result. As a person examines the relationship between the two objects, he starts to take note of more details and how that aspect correlates to the other object. Using the crash metaphor again, a person can look at many facets of an auto collision and relate it to the encounters depicted on the screen. A car has numerous parts of it put together to make it adequately function. A person is also made up of many parts, and a society consists of numerous unique people to function. In both cases a crash can range from a minor fender bender to a deathly crash. The encounters in the film cover a range in the severity of the crashes. The unfortunate extreme of this spectrum is seen when the young police officer Tom Hansen wrongly anticipates his passenger Peter’s next action after not explaining his laughter; Tom kills Peter. He acted in quick self-defense to what his experience had taught him to do; he had stored away stereotypical traits to assign to people, and they guided his responsive action. Using the crash metaphor, a viewer can unpack the intricacies of all the levels of this brutal action that caused such a fatal collision. In this case, as the police officer severely hit the other man’s “car,” he must also have walked away with an impact on his own. He can’t walk away untouched or undamaged.
Metaphor use lends to a deeper understanding of the relationship between the objects connected in it. The film Crash makes use of this tool to draw attention to the tumultuous relationship between culture and race. This approach leads audiences to delve deeper into their understanding of these interactions.