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Crash

With this years Oscar nominees out today, I thought it prudent to look back at the movie in whose footsteps the nominees hope to follow.

Crash teaches us that everyone you meet every single day is a racist. Well, OK, not really, but there is a lot of hatred out there. The movie follows several intertwined stories on one day in the lives of a whole bunch of Los Angelenos who are each having a shitty day. The common theme running through all of them is race. The character exhibit racism, fall victem to racism, and many of them experience both ends of it.

Out of the many characters we follow over the course of the movie (and there are so many of them I can't even remember all of their names) there are exactly two that are remotely likable, the locksmith and the shopkeeper's daughter. That's it. That's the list. But we do not hate most of these characters on the basis of something irrational such as skin color. We hate them on a rational level once we get to know them and see that for the most part they are rather detestable.

However none of these characters are two-dimentional, and even the most racist ones among them are seen to be quite human at the end, as the DA's wife admits to her housekeeper that the housekeeper is her only friend, and the racist cop struggles to take care of his father.

None of this excuses racism of course. Racism is the original sin of American society and from time to time we need a movie like this to open up the discussion about how far we have come and how much farther we have to go.

Crash was nominated against two movies I admired very much, Capote and Goodnight and Good Luck, and it was the third movie of those that I was rooting for on Oscar night. However having seen Crash, I can now openly admit the Academy probably made the right choice last year. The two movies about journalism which will always hold a special place in my heart are very good movies, but Crash is just a bit better than either of them. It manages to juggle multiple stories around a central theme, and never falls into the trap Lord of the Rings: Return of the King falls into where we skip around so much we forget what some of the groups were doing. This isn't a perfect movie, but it is damn good.


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