Myths as a Mirror of Society
Myths as a Mirror of Society
In a democratic society that struggles with how to support individuality and yet develop a consciousness of shared concerns and actions that promote equality, the color of your skin and the place of your origins still matter to a lot of people. Power relationships between people still exist and continue to influence people’s perceptions of themselves and the members of other groups. One of the struggles of a certain person is the construction of self, including identification and affiliation with one’s gender and a racial or ethnic group.
Living in a “melting pot” of cultures like the United States, one could not help but encounter different people that belong to different ethnic group. In an article by Linda Seger entitled “Creating the Myths” (2000), she averred that although people come from different cultures or has a different skin color, We share similar experiences in the life journey of growth, development, and transformation. We live the same stories, whether they involve the search for a perfect mate, coming home, the search for fulfillment, going after an ideal, achieving the dream, or hunting for a precious treasure.
Whatever our culture, there are universal stories that form the basis for all our particular stories. The trappings might be different, the twists and turns that create suspense might change from culture to culture, the particular characters may take different forms, but underneath it all, it’s the same story, drawn from the same experiences (p. 308). Living in a multi-ethnic society does not come in as easy. Often, we have heard or maybe encountered ourselves some prejudice with regards to people that has not the same color of our skin. In television and in movies, there are clashes in cultures.
Unknown prejudice caused mainly by people’s refusal to accept reality as it is. When you see the word crash, it always summons to mind an unfortunate event that has to deal with vehicles. Someone even told me that it is prohibited to say this word when you are boarded on an airplane because you might cause panic among another passengers. Planes, cars and even computers crash. Crash basically means collision. Similarly, the title of Paul Haggis movie is Crash (2005). However, viewers will see not only collisions involving cars, but collisions involving race, culture and classes.
Although it is just a movie, ”Crash” tackles the realities of what cross-cultural panorama of Los Angeles urban life looks like. More than an interwoven stories of mythic heroes, it involves no direct good or bad people. These are people interconnected to each other in vestiges of crime, racism, corruption, obligation, indignation and chance over a two-day period. The storyline superimposes the complexity of the multifaceted narratives of their lives entwined under the numerous social and psychological issues usually hidden inside the closet of the American consciousness.
Demystifying the Plot Seger proposed that a myth is a story that is “more than true. ” She elaborated that these stories are true because one person, somewhere, at some time, lived it. Like the stories that intertwine in the movie Crash, these events are based on facts that we encounter in our daily lives. We connect to a “myth” because we believe that this is more than true because it is lived by all of us, at some level. The plot of the movie Crash are stories that connects and speaks to us all.
One of the poignant stories that revolve around the movie is about two cops, one senior and the other junior. The other jaded and abusive, the other one is a novice and willing to learn the ropes. These cops are played by Matt Dillon and Ryan Philippe respectively. One day, when they were assigned in their beat site, they pull over and eventually harass a black couple (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton) because the SUV they’re driving vaguely fits the description of a carjacked vehicle that was reported.
Viewers get the impression that the character of Matt Dillon is racist chauvinist pig. We immediately tag him as the villain. More complications swiftly supersede within 24 hours as archetypes of characters cross paths again in separate incidents of incredibly high tension. These archetype characters challenge both the prejudices that have formed between them and the assumptions we draw out from their different perspectives about race and culture as a whole. Later in the film, we are surprised to see that it turned out that Christine (Thandie Newton) that she encounters Sgt.
Ryan (Matt Dillon), the racist cop who sexually molested her during a traffic stop the previous night, the officer on the scene who tries to pull her from the burning car. Of course, she refused. “Anyone but you! ” Christine screamed. We see the frustration in the face of Sgt. Ryan. He profusely apologized and explained that nobody was there to help but him. He informed that gasoline was dripping off her car. More or less, she has to get out of there before it explodes. Hesitantly, Christine agreed after Sgt. Ryan promised not to touch her anymore.
Luckily, Christine was pulled out before the explosion. Viewers are perplexed with the transformation of Sgt. Ryan as an anti-hero. Maybe, he was not bad after all. Heroes and anti-heroes abound the movie Crash. To further intricately muddle the conflicts, characters encounter and reencounter one another in highly convenient ways. For example, a young African-American criminal Peter (Lanrez Tate) is murdered. Fortunately, he has a brother, Graham (Don Cheadle), an LAPD detective, who discovers Peter’s dead body in the desert.
Prior to learning of his brother’s death, Graham is thwarted by the district attorney’s office into suppressing evidence that may partially absolve a white police officer charged with killing a black cop. Incidentally, the district attorney (Brendan Fraser) is looking for a conviction that would help him gather enough support from the black community, since he is trying to manage a potential media scandal. He and his wife (Sandra Bullock) were carjacked in Sherman Oaks by two young black men.
We come to realize that around the community of New York we get acquainted with various myths, as this movie depicted. We witness the patterns and elements that connect with our own human experience As film involves various crashes and clashes, forcefully it does not just invoke commonly hackneyed racially-charged confrontations found in some films, but it almost subliminally showcases how passive prejudice and pre-conceived notions are often prevalent in simple day-to-day life.
Thus, people could just collide and all these complications happen within a blink of an eye, unaware that they are villains and victims all at the same time of the milieu. The Myths of Crash Although the dominant illusion of myths that Crash could perpetuate among its viewers about its own narrative is that each character does something virtuous in one situation, and something unconscionably racist in another. Entirely, this is not the case because some characters could be deemed as purely good people. These characters are not simply out and out heroes.
They are called anti-heroes because they do not possess certain respect that people should bestow them because of racism and prejudice. The Latino locksmith Daniel exists solely to incur racist threats and insults from other characters, then to disprove their opinions through his role as the most upstanding of family men. Unfortunately, other characters display no redeeming traits, like the DA’s wife, Jean Cabot (Bullock) is depicted as a self-involved rich and uptight woman who is there to speak the unspeakable ‘truth’ when justifying her fear of black men.
Eventually, she stops just short of calling Daniel a wetback, and undergoes a quite insincere transformation that resulted from her inability to understand that her housekeeper Maria (Yomi Perry) is nice to her when she fell down some steps and fractured her leg, and nobody else has given her sympathy. She had no choice, but be nice to the person who helped her (Sicinski, 2005). Craig Detweiler (December, 2005) analyzed that Haggis portrays the film as a depiction a fine interconnectedness of realistic portrait of pertinent issues with a subliminal touch of magic realism.
The movie offers a range of familiar types, attempting to prick his viewers’ consciences without being overbearingly preachy or nearly jingoistic. As the film kicks off, tempers are already surging as invectives and epithets are blurted out without batting an eyelash. Prejudices are looking for confirmation. “I am angry all the time, and I don’t know why,” laments a frustrated housewife. The first half of the film whips up the melting pot of complications, with racist assumptions spilling out of the characters ears.
Viewers relish a platter of racism and crime, seasoned with sexual harassment, a broken health-care system and the purchase of firearms. In the softer second half, Detweiler explains that the isolated moments suggest a possibility of redemption for the characters. A motorist hassled by the cops for “driving while black” turns out to be a conflict-avoiding “Buddhist for Christ’s sake. ” But that doesn’t dissuade the police from violating his humanity and that of his wife. A statue of St.
Christopher shows up at surprising times, but it ultimately proves ineffectual. A protective icon inspires a random act of violence. As Christmas unfolds in the movie, we see images of the nativity that could only summon unrealized prayers for “peace on earth” (Detweiler, 2005). Circumscribing the “circle” that goes around the film’s plot, a realization could smack its viewers that in the small world we are living in, we are connected to each other, like it or not. Conclusion To quote John F.
Kennedy, he said that “every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. ” In our present time, racism is a topic well-tackled among discussions. We are aware that it is generally loathed by people and we heard calls of putting a stop to it. We have seen the fall of Apartheid, we have seen those protests voicing out equality, but people still commit racism unconsciously as they encounter each other in their daily lives. Is prejudice primarily a question of color?
How do differences of language and culture play into our misunderstandings? What must be done to bridge understanding and permanently inculcate the ugly face of prejudice regarding our differences? The film Crash does not present the myths to an ultimate panacea to racism and prejudice. But certainly, it is a mirror of the archetypes that persist in American society. It is presenting a consciousness about the interconnectedness of people and the situations that made them come up with their own realizations.
Thus, the film invites its viewers to come up with their own realizations about the contemporary cross-section of American society and provide a space about perspectives on how to deal with their own prejudices. Works Cited Detweiler, Craig. Cultural Collisions. Sojourners Magazine. Washington, (December 2005), 34 (11): 45-46. Seger, Linda. “Creating the Myth. ” Signs Of Life In The USA. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. 308-316. Sicinski, Michael. Crash, Film Review. Cineaste. New York, (Fall 2005), 30 (4): 51-54.