Tuesday, March 7 2006
Based on a Netflix recommendation and completely unaware that it had been nominated for a best picture Oscar, I watched Crash last week. I gave it one star (out of five) and left this comment:
Imagine someone writing "RACISM IS BAD" on a baseball bat and then swinging it at your teeth for two hours.
The film is a series of disjoint scenes in which one or more characters allow their actions to be affected by their racist assumptions of another character and end up hurting the other character in some way. Beyond that, it's basically a combinatorial problem. There's white vs. black, black vs. white, white vs. Mexican, Persian vs. Mexican, and so on. I got the feeling that every scene should have concluded with text on a blank screen reading "please pause the tape and discuss the questions on your hand out." It would've been perfect for a high school sociology class.
Every actor played their role superbly, and they should be recognized for that. But they were still doing a great job of playing a lame character in a bad movie.
The film has been praised for its courage in tackling such a difficult topic. In reality, it just says "racism is bad" over and over again. It's not "courageous" to repeat what everyone knows. Schindler's List wasn't good because it informed us that the holocaust was bad. I think that everyone's influenced by past experiences with various cultural groups, but we're smart enough to ignore it in most situations. Even in that gray area, I think that when given a form asking "is racism bad?" with check boxes for "yes" and "no," nearly everyone would check "yes." Courageous indeed.
There are, of course, people who are consciously racist. Every movie I've seen based on those people has been worlds better than Crash because they give the audience more to think about than "yeah, I guess racism is still bad." Besides Schindler's List, I think that American History X did a great job of making the audience think and care. I liked the main characters, even in spite of their neo-nazism, and so I was happy when things changed for the better. In Crash, all the characters are jerks (except for the Mexican locksmith), and I found myself hoping they'd get killed off so I wouldn't have to watch more of their jackass antics.
So yeah, I hated Crash and I think the academy voted it best picture just to make themselves feel good about bringing such a crucial issue to the front lines of American thought. They're so out of touch...
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