This title is not hyperbole. If you enjoyed Crash to the point of feeling a need to defend it, you’re bullshit and you likely have a bullshit platform on which you declare your distaste of systematic racism. Your platform is bullshit because you probably don’t care enough to grasp where that distaste stems from, as this film sure as fuck doesn’t. If you enjoyed Crash, I suspect you may click the appropriate facebook reaction to that article in your feed that speaks out against white supremacy, privilege, entitlement, but don’t dare dive in to its content for understanding beyond your thin cloth of casual, forthwith gratifying, social-media surfing liberalism. Crash is bullshit because it creates a dialogue around racism merely for the sake of creating it. It has no interest in providing discourse that is accurate, impactful, or necessary for shining a much needed light on a very real epidemic. This movie is bullshit, it won a fucking Oscar AND manages to be pretty goddamn racist and reductive in and of itself. Have I established an angle here yet?
Crash follows a half dozen interconnected stories about people being racist and not racist to one another in Los Angeles. Matt Dillon is a super racist cop and Ryan Phillipe plays his partner who asks for a transfer because of Dillon’s overt racism. Phillipe then does something mega racist later on because lol he’s a white cop. Don Cheadle is a detective who sleeps with his white partner. Ludacris is a carjacker who only steals from white people because he’s a gangbanging, philosopher of the streets or something. And there’s a Persian deli owner and an Hispanic locksmith and Brandon Fraser and Terrance Howard. Because these dumb, simple plots exist and because a movie needs to happen, all of these characters inexplicably run into one another and find themselves in impossible melees of racial strains. It’s some of the laziest screenwriting imaginable, and because of its indented context, it’s some of the most dangerous.
Director and writer Paul Haggis (who will be referred to as Paul HACKis from this point forward) strikes me as the type of dude who understands race, gender, and sexuality through rose (white) colored glasses. I mean, I’m squirming while writing a critique of this movie AS a straight, white guy. And that’s not to say that a straight, white guy can’t grasp, empathize, and provide important dialogue about race relations in America (in fact, this is an incredibly important group that NEEDS to be doing a fuck of a lot more of this), but this is the wrong straight, white guy to do it. Hackis creates one-dimensional characters as if he were some alien who was influenced by a book titled, “The Most Basic Racial Stereotypes in Contemporary America,” that he read for fifteen minutes and then decided to write a script. Look at how believable and interesting this dialogue is!
Lol, ok. Go fuck yourself, Hackis. What the fuck am I even watching here? It’s so basic and safe and empty that I’m sure my non-racist but not anti-racist grandparents will love the shit out of it (I still love ya, Nan and Pop!). Why is this the chosen subject matter to help develop characters and progress story? This comes off like a PSA or possibly even a parody on how racial tensions would be handled in the most Hollywood of Hollywood films. But it gets even better.
Let me try and get on board the trolley here (right guys!? what a white bit of dialogue huh?! Wait, is that even inherently white? I don’t know anything anymore after watching this shit)…so like, Ludacris and Larenz Tate are discussing how poorly they’ve been treated at a restaurant because they are black in what looks like a fairly snobby, white hood (fine, that’s completely believable) then talk about how THEY should be the ones who are scared since they are the only two black guys around (even better, this is very believable). This is absolutely fine! It’s written so fucking inanely but at least the content is relevant and revolves around a very real problem in this country. BUT when Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser walk by and give them a “cold look” they all of the sudden TAKE OUT THEIR GUNS AND CARJACK THEM BECAUSE RACISM. Paul Hackis ladies and gentleman! Turning the racial archetype upside down and blowing my goddamn mind! And by blowing my mind I mean me being shot in the head by a black gang member because I’m a rich, entitled white man who stiffened up upon seeing this dangerous black dude and being murdered with some kind of poetic, street justice. Wait, is that the intention of this scene?
And that’s every scene in this movie; typecast characters finding themselves face-to-face with situations that are somehow racially charged with unearned motivation. It’s like a series of scenarios that a high school kid in rural New York would come up with if he or she were asked to create “realistic” examples of how characters from varying backgrounds could potentially wind up in problematic circumstances because of their varying backgrounds. And I could understand that kid making those likely flawed, misguided, and unrealistic conclusions. But Paul Hackis is a multi-millionaire “artist” (and former Scientologist, so no wonder he’s well versed in siphoning money out of people for a dumb shit cause. BURN) who is creating something with the apparent intention of having an impact on society and culture. And that impact, so far as I can tell, is creating the most tepid, unearned environment that is structured around a tone-deaf comprehension of a gross social construct, which continues to exist in part BECAUSE of tone-deaf, white guy comprehension. Shit like Crash does not offer insight and resolve to the prevailing, racist narrative that America continues to struggle with, rather it helps perpetuate it. It gets it the fuck wrong.
I’d like to conclude this very well justified rage with a quote from my buddy and fellow Crash hater, Adam.
“For me, watching Crash was like stabbing my toe on the inside of my ass.”
Adam gets it. Do you?