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Social Psychology In The Movie Crash Film Studies Essay

In life people will come in contact with others, who are from a different background, culture, lifestyle or ethnicity as them, yet still every individual is equal, they’re all humans. As humans, people have the tendency to have their own unique perspectives on the world around them and everything it encounters. Psychologist Gordon Allport (1985), one of the founding fathers of personality psychology, defined social psychology as a discipline in which scientific methods are used in order “to understand and explain how the thought, feeling, and behavior of individuals are influenced by actual, imagined, or implied presence of other human beings” (Cherry).Social psychology involves social cognition, how someone’s attitude can affect their behavior towards others as well as society, and intergroup relations. The academy award winning film Crash, directed by Paul Higgins, accurately conforms to how the aspects of social psychology, such as racism, person perception, attitudes, and discrimination, can affect ones everyday lives.

Crash takes place in the streets of Los Angeles over a two day time period. Each character plays a role in being the accuser as well as the victim in different racial scenarios. Grahman Waters (Don Cheadle) who is a prejudice detective against people of his own race and is having an affair with his Port Rican partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito). Anthony (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Peter (Larenz Tate) are two African-American who steals cars as steal them as a way to get money. Peter is Grahman’s younger brother. Anthony thinks that everything and everyone around him is racist against the African-American culture. Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock) is the wife of a district attorney Rick (Brendan Fraser). Jean is the type of woman who is prejudice against everyone outside her ethnicity. Daniel (Michael Peña) a young Mexican that works as a lock-smith and is very devoted towards to his family. A Persian immigrant Farhad (Shaun Toub) owns a store in L.A. John (Matt Dilion) a racist police officer discriminates against African-Americans but precisely against the women of African-American descent. Christine Thayer (Thandie Newton) is an African-American woman married to a famous television director Cameron Thayer (Terrance Howard) who works highly amongst the presence of Caucasians.

The portrayal of social psychology in this movie is viewed as being accurate. Person perception, as defined by King (2010), is the processes by which we use social stimuli to form impressions of others (p.377). Some forms of person perceptions include stereotypes, self-fulfulling prophecy, and first impressions. While walking to her vehicle with her husband one night after dinner, Jean noticed Peter and Anthony walking in the opposite direction towards them. Jean made a first impression of the men by stereotyping them as being harmful. To stereotype someone means to label them an individual as part of a particular group. Jean responded to her feelings by clinching to her husband for safety. Anthony who caught on to her reaction took offense to it. He was curious as to why Jean immediately felt “blind fear” once she saw him and Peter. They didn’t look like a threat anyone so why were they viewed as being that way? When the expectations cause individuals to act in ways that serve to make the expectations come true is known self-fulfilling prophecy (King, 2010, p. 378). To prove Jean’s expectation of them right, Peter and Anthony held the Cabots at gunpoint and stole their vehicle. To better secure their surroundings the Cabot’s decided to get their locks changed by Daniel. Once Jean realized the man changing their locks was a Mexican her prejudice ways was acted one on again by verbally abusing Daniel. She figured that because of the type of culture he came from Daniel was a “gangbanger” and feared he would sell their keys to one of his friends. To her surprise Daniel left both keys on the counter leaving Jean feeling guilty, proving to her that he was the man she accused him of being. After having his store constantly being robbed Farhad started to become furious. The problem that Farhad had wasn’t that he needed his locks changed but yet he needed to invest in a brand new door and that’s exactly what Daniel tried to explain to him. Instead of taking Daniel’s helpful advice Farhad thought Daniel was trying to “cheat” him because he was an immigrant. Altruism is having an unselfish interest in helping another person (King, 2010, p. 386). Daniel’s displaced altruism in the act of being considerate and trying to explain to Farhad that he needed to buy a new door to protect his store. One’s attitude, our feelings or opinions about people, objects and ideas (King, 2010, p. 381), can affect their behavior. Throughout the movie the attitudes the characters developed towards one another played a significant role in the decisions they made. After being denied medical assistance for his father by an African-American woman, John changed his views for all African-American women. While on duty with his partner Hansen (Ryan Phillippe), John pulled over the Thayers for performing sexual intercourse while operating a motor vehicle. Discrimination is an unjustified negative or harmful action toward a member of a group simply because the person belongs to that group (King, 2010, p. 403). Since his views of African-American women were changed by one woman out of the entire population John took his aggression and frustration out on Christine by sexually harassing her in front of his partner and her husband. Obedience is the behavior that complies with the explicit demands of the individual in authority (King, 2010, p. 394). Even though Cameron knew John’s actions towards his wife was wrong he chose to be cooperative and advocate him into letting them go because he was a police officer.

Don Cheadle set the atmosphere of the movie right from the beginning. He made the statement, “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you but in L.A., nobody touches you we’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much that we CRASH into each other, just so we can feel something.” Despite each characters personal ideals and beliefs about life in the end they all reconnected with each other in some way. The traumatic, life or death, events forced them to look past their stereotypes and attitudes towards one another and learn to develop some level of trust and compassion for others. Christine and John “crashed” together when he had to rescue her from a dangerous car accident in which she was stuck in the vehicle. His actions didn’t he showed her in the beginning made Christine fear him saving her but she had to trust him. Cameron in the mist of getting robbed by Anthony and Peter “crashed” into Hanson who pulled the over, along with other police officers, let him go. Hanson felt sympathy for Cameron because of what John did to his wife. Anthony and Jean both overcame ethnocentrism at the end of the movie. When Jean fell down the stairs and her housekeeper Maria, a Mexican, was the only one there to help her she realized that end people outside of her race have a good heart. Anthony looked past his racial views by freeing a trunk full of Chinese families as oppose to selling them for money. Aspects of social psychology can affect one’s everyday life. Ella Taylor, from L.A. Weekly, stated her reaction of the movie as “one of the finest portrayals” (LGE, 2005).

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