In the film Crash we are given a picture of all different kinds of social and multicultural differences, giving us an eye opening and often disturbing examples of racism that damages our society. The scene I have chosen to analyze is between 18:30 – 21:05 minutes in the movie Crash. Cameron and Christine are a black well off couple. They experience stereotyping and racism when they are driving home from a party. A white police officer pulls them over and performs a search on both Cameron and Christine. This scene illustrates the social and racial tensions, with a racist white officer molesting an innocent black woman.
The scene is located in a residential neighborhood, in an American City. Although the time of date is not stated it is very dark and probably late at night as there a few cars that pass through the entire scene. There is a Christmas tree in the background, suggesting that this is set during the winter. Although it is dark and gloomy, we can depict that it is cold as Cameron is wearing a turtleneck and blazer, and the policeman are also wearing jackets. The scene revolves around four major characters, Cameron (Husband), Christine (Wife), Officer John, and Officer Tom. Cameron and Christine are pulled over by the two officers whilst driving a Black Navigator. The cop car is directly behind the black navigator, however most of the scene takes place near the Black Navigator. Around the characters there are a few malnourished trees, alongside with blurred streetlights and shop signs. There are glimpses of residential houses in the background indicating that they are in a suburban area.
Cameron’s costume is a beige turtleneck, with a Dark brown blazer and black dress pants. He is also wearing a wedding ring, black leather strap watch, and frameless glasses. Christine is wearing a white cocktail dress, with the majority of her body exposed. She is wearing diamond earrings and a wedding ring. Officer John and Tom are wearing police issued jackets, black button down shirt, black pants and black leather shoes. There is a police badge stitched into the jacket, and on the left arm of the jacket showing their rank. Throughout the scene the dialogue is accompanied by a faint eerie melody that is played at slow tempo. As Officer John is molesting Christine the camera starts to follow John’s hands up and down her backside. Most of the time the camera is focused on the characters faces, to allow the viewer a deeper insight into the situation.
Cameron and Christine are both of African decent, and first generation Americans. Christine mentions at the start that Cameron is a Buddhist, and does not drink; however Christine does not oblige to the same lifestyle. Cameron is 5ft10, 40-50 years old, around 160-180 pounds and has his hair slick back. Christine is 5ft7, 40-50 years old, around 120-140 pounds and has her hair tied back. Officer John is around 5ft10-11, 30-40 years old; around 170-190 pounds, and slick back hair. Officer Tom is a younger version of John, around the ages of 20-30, same height and around 150-170 pounds with unpolished hair. When Cameron and Christine are pulled over by the Police, they smile at each other as if they just cracked a joke.
When the police officers approach the vehicle and ask Cameron to step out the car, Christine loses it and starts mouthing off at Officer John calling him a “cracker”, boiling his blood. A key moment in the scene is when Christine searched by Officer John, and glares at Cameron signaling for help. Cameron makes eye contact and looks away in sadness signaling there is nothing he can do. Although Cameron does not speak out, we can clearly tell he is in distress and controlling his anger displayed through non-verbal behavior (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012).
While Officer John runs his hands down Christine’s backside he constantly glances at Cameron showing him the distribution of power in this situation. Although Cameron may be a movie director, John proves to him he is an officer of the law and holds more power than his money can buy. Officer Tom handles contains Cameron as he is forced to watch his partner perform sinful acts on the poor housewife. Through his facial expressions we can depict that he is clearly uncomfortable with his partner’s action, however he is unable to act against them. Officer John clearly outranks Tom in terms of superiority, and must follow his orders.
Officer John is portrayed as a troubled racist white that feels the need to establish his racial dominance and authority. Although this could have been a long stemming hatred towards blacks (Attribution Theory (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012)), it seems that an incident prior to the scene may have triggered his reaction. An Availability Heuristic (Elliot Aronson; Timothy D. Wilson; Robin M. Akert, 2012) may have readily been available for John when he saw a black man receiving fellatio from either a white/black female. Christine as mentioned before is slightly drunk throughout the scene, and starts mouthing off at Officer John. Although both Cameron and Christine realize that this is an act of racism Christine acted out of line by turning a bad situation into a worse one. In a way she was acting out of her Gender Role (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012) as the male should be the one to deal with situations like this. In the marriage vows it says that you must protect your partner at all times, and is a common known fact when associating Gender Roles (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012).
The traditionally male roles of “provider” and “protector” are especially examined when the police officer is molesting Christine, and Cameron just watches in silence and despair. It is arguable that when confronted by police there are certain Demand Characteristics (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012) that should be done, however in this case Cameron acted like a coward. It is interesting to observe the interaction between Cameron and Christine throughout the scene. Cameron shows his male dominance by telling Christine to “Shut Up, Stop Talking” and stay out of the situation. This proves that Cameron’s Social Cognition (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012) is that he is in power and that his wife should listen to his words. Another key thing that was observed during the analysis was that Cameron was more afraid of the consequences against his own future career than his wife.
To elaborate Cameron knew that if he intervened with Officer John he would be arrested and be all over the news. He was more concerned with his own image than his wife, which is why he stood there helplessly watching. Once the officers left, we can see that Cameron has been morally degraded and on the verge of succumbing into insanity. Christine starts to blame Cameron for his cowardly actions, although he does not seem to care much on the outside we can depict that it is doing a number on him mentally.
When I first watched this scene I was shocked to see Officer John abuse his power, whilst at the same time surprised to see Cameron and Officer Tom watch helplessly. Especially Cameron being her husband he shows no signs to try and help Christine. This scene is a clear example of Modern Racism (Elliot Aronson et Al, 2012), and how certain roles in society have the ability to abuse their power. It is also very interesting to see how social psychology plays a big role in how certain people make decisions. Such as Christine speaking out of place, John molesting Christine, and Tom and Cameron acting as innocent bystanders.
Elliot Aronson; Timothy D. Wilson; Robin M. Akert (2012), Social Psychology, Eight Edition, New Jersey, Pearson Education Inc, Retrieved from Coursesmart Library