Occasionally I watch a movie, or hear something on television, that really makes me wonder how Hollywood views the rest of the world. Usually it is some fleeting reference or a caustic remark (think: Kanye’s jab at Bush). But every so often, this rears its ugly head in a truly profound way – a way that makes my head shake violently with disbelief.
I had one of those moments this weekend. My wife and I, at home sick and milling about on the couches, decided to order up Crash via Movies On Demand. I wasn’t ten minutes into this movie before the head shaking was so intense it was difficult to focus on the screen.
Honestly, I don’t really know what the point of that movie was. Because of the title, and because of the opening scene, I assumed it had something to do with a car crash – and there were several in the movie, but they seemed well removed from any plot the movie tried to have.
Instead, the movie seemed to be based solely on the belief that every single person on this planet is a racist scum bag, except the Hispanic community. The white guys hate blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, etc. Black guys hate white guys, Muslims and Hispanics. Muslims think Hispanics are cheats and liars. Hispanics, based on this movie, are the only decent people on the planet. They’re honest, work hard and just want a better life for themselves and their children. (which frankly is how I see most people)
And that seems to be the only real story this movie was telling. And it’s a story told through 105 boring minutes of black guys stealing cars; white guys calling Muslims Osama; white cops sexually assaulting and killing black motorists they happen to pull over or give a ride to; black people melting down because of the white cops; white women claiming that every fear of a minority is justified; and a black cop lying to his mom about sleeping with a white girl (she’s really Hispanic) because that would upset his mother more.
The movie received good reviews when it was out in theaters. I specifically remembered this when I chose to pay to watch it. But having been robbed of my $5, and more importantly, 105 minutes of my life, I have no idea why.
This is the way Hollywood sees America – this simmering cauldron of hatred and animosity. They truly believe that 98% of America is walking around carrying deep seated racial animosity and just one degree below boiling on the temperature gauge.
Now, racism is alive and well, there is no doubt. People do things for any number of stupid reasons and racism is on that list as frequently as ignorance (the two are almost universally correlated). But that does not equate to the world depicted in Crash – a place where every person you meet is judging you by skin color first, last, and only.
It’s sad, really, that this is the view of America carried by, for lack of a better term, our cultural leadership. You can argue the semantics of that if you will, but these people do represent the culture we consume everyday. They star in the films, write the music, produce the television programming, and otherwise drive pop culture. That they have such a low opinion of America is sad. The movie I watched this weekend is their depiction of life as they see it. But that is not the America I know.