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The movie Crash (2005) is directed by Paul Haggies. It starts with a statement saying that humans miss a sense of touch so much that they crash into each other in order to feel something. In the statement, the word ‘touch’ suggests human connection in people’s communication. Usage of the word ‘feel’ invokes a sense of emotion. The movie portrays that humans’ lack of understanding and compassion for each other in today’s world is a direct outcome of their superficial interactions, and self-enforced emotional and physical division. Unwillingness to identify with the backgrounds and circumstances of others in interpretations and characterization of events leads to inconsiderate and unkind behavior. John Ryan is one of the characters in the movie who shows the disconnection in human communication.
Officer Ryan is a type of person whose nonverbal communication speaks clearly of his masculinity. From the beginning of the movie, his arrogance is rather apparent. He appears to have an attitude of judging himself better than others and especially women. His masculinity is portrayed in his manners and behavior. He walks with his shoulders set behind, his chest out and head cocked (Haggis & Schulman, 2005). John Ryan is dark, tall and handsome with a thunderous, commanding voice. He touches women as a way of communicating. When he stopped Cameron and Christine, he asked Christine to put her hands on the car and started feeling and touching her body right in front of Cameron, her husband (Haggis & Schulman, 2005). Christine was an attractive woman and Ryan took advantage of her because he considered her inferior. He also treats the woman on the phone with arrogance by undermining her race. He tells there are more qualified white men who can take her job (Haggis & Schulman, 2005). Ryan shows that men due to their masculinity can treat women anyhow without being questioned.
Officer Ryan identifies himself with the white people and thus, considers himself superior to others. His racist views are portrayed in his arrogant response ‘of course it is’ to the woman on the phone, who has frustrated him (Haggis & Schulman, 2005). Ryan also shows his racism when he goes to the hospital to discuss his father’s health with a woman asking if she knows that there are many white men who are qualified to have her job (Haggis & Schulman, 2005).
Ryan also portrays power distance between him and others. He is not only a racist but he also views himself above other people. He appears to think that since he is white, he has the power that comes from ethnicity. He believes that because he is a white male, who lives in North America, he is superior to everyone else. The power of social and economic status is related to one’s occupation, income and education. Ryan’s income is average, his occupation is average and his education is just decent. There is nothing about his status that might seem to elevate him above others. However, he uses his position of a law enforcement officer to exert power over other people like in the example with Cameron and his wife. Ryan also uses his power to exert authority over one of his colleagues. When he was switching partners, he shook his partner’s hand squeezing it tight and whispered to him that after doing that for several years, he would change (Haggis & Schulman, 2005). Basically, he was telling him that once he had done that for some time, he would have been a racist like him. Ryan is trying to show that he has a higher authority than his colleague does by expressing that he has been in service longer and has more experience.
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In my opinion, given film portrays racism as it exists in the society. The white people in the film view themselves as more powerful, educated, qualified and better than the black people. Ryan is the character that brings out racism at its highest in the society. The white people, who hold authority like Ryan’s, consider themselves superior and use their authority to look down on the black people. The issue of racism stood out for me throughout the film, where five characters were whites and three of them were blacks (Haggis & Schulman, 2005). The film has reminded me of many times when I have seen police officers associating black people with crime. For instance, an incidence that I often witness is a white policeman stopping cars with only black people and ignoring those with white people.
The movie shows that it is important how things are handled in the society. People can be read by the manners in which they handle and treat others. People ought to seek interaction with others before making a superficial judgment about them. It is easy to assume that a person is weak or unqualified before communicating with them. Ryan could have taken time to identify and interact with others before judging them inferior to him.