East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Crash: Scott Foundas replies

(Foundas is replying to this.)

"When I say that the characters in CRASH end up reinforcing the very stereotypes they've been put forth to debunk, what I mean is this: The erudite carjackers are still carjackers at the end of the day--in other words, the Sandra Bullock character is proven right by getting scared by the sight of two black men in a predominately white neighborhood, because they do mean her harm, regardless of what their motivations are. Likewise, although Matt Dillon's character has his heroic moment at the end of the movie, he's still a racist white cop who pulls over otherwise innocent motorists for "driving while black"--and the movie's suggestion that we should somehow be surprised that a racist white cop would rescue a black person from a burning vehicle is among its more risible notions. I could go on, but I think you see my point: This isn't a movie that criticizes its characters' prejudices so much as it pats them on the back and says that, when the going gets tough, we're all capable of rising to the occasion. In short, it's a movie that racist cops and housewives can go to see and feel better about themselves afterwards.

"As for Don Cheadle and Terence Howard, they're both undeniably brilliant actors, but I don't know that I found there to be anything particularly complex, morally or otherwise, about their roles in CRASH (and certainly not about Howard's role in HUSTLE & FLOW--a movie I have just about equally fond feelings for). You want moral complexity: Take a look at Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the recently released DIRTY--a movie that in many ways plays like a nifty inversion of CRASH, and includes one scene in which Gooding's character harasses a couple of motorists for what might be called "driving while white." I'd say that scene, and a number of others in DIRTY (or in Ron Shelton's excellent DARK BLUE) come much closer to capturing the true pulse of race relations in Los Angeles (and perhaps any major American city) than Paul Haggis even begins to wrap his hopelessly contrived screenwriter's mind around."

Yet more Crash-bashing: Matt Zoller Seitz.


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