Monday, March 6th, 2006

Why "Crash" Sucks

OK, so since I’m in the middle of the tour, we get rehashed hits. Here’s Sylvia (BTW congrats you guys!) and me holding forth on why “Crash” sucked. Maybe the next entry will be why Dook sucks, since it’s March. Anyway, enjoy, and please check the post below for Dr. Antwi Akom’s case–a harder dose of race reality than “Crash” could ever pretend to be. If you are so moved, please go to the Justice For Akom website to send letters to the D.A., the SFSU President, and the CSU Board of Trustees.

posted by @ 12:09 am | 11 Comments

11 Responses to “Why "Crash" Sucks”

  1. CVK says:

    Jeff, I’m totally with you. See my blog post here:

    Not only am I mad that Crash won, I’m even more mad that not a single Asian American media watchdog group said ANYTHING about this movie. And believe me, I contacted them about it as soon as I saw it.

    This was a HUGE missed opportunity to point out how much racist junk was in that movie, and now it’s too late. It’s Best Picture, and nobody is going to question the lessons it purportedly teaches about race.


  2. Jeff says:

    Thanks for stopping through Carmen. Your websites offer really great stuff.

    Yeah, Asian Am media watchdog groups usually tend to disappoint me more than they please me.

    They are caught in a strange dilemma that often places them at a distance from the communities they serve–it has to do with positioning themselves as halfway insiders.

    They would like to influence the media and play ball there, but they also want to mobilize rage over representations, and I think these positions can become untenable sometimes.

    In the mid-90s, for instance, MANAA became incorporated into becoming the advance PR team (at discounted rates, no doubt) for movies like “Dragon” and “The Joy Luck Club”, the way that Christian groups have become advance teams for “The Passion” and “Chronicles of Narnia”.

    In doing that, though, they begin to play a very different game, one that can make it more difficult to really be oppositional the next time around. This is a road that leads to strange things like the “NAACP Image Awards”.

    I’m a cult-crit, just as implicated in all this as the next person, but I’m ambivalent about the gala-event road to racial liberation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great discussion.

    On a purely artistic level, I thought Crash was hard to watch because it wasn’t paced well. Each character has a profound life experience in about 15 minutes of screen time. Clearly, there were too many characters. Who are the protagonists? Are there any protagonists? Is this an overly dramatized docudrama? And every single situation boils down to race.

    There’s no room to breathe.

    I think the main reason why this movie has been so well received and praised (not just by whites, I might add) is that people are simply hungry for movies about race. Some friends of mine were like “Yo, there’s a movie about race in L.A. and there’s Persians in it.” Which was a total surprise to us. And I thought, wow, a movie about race in L.A. that actually takes full stock. But this is also its main problem.

    Could such a movie be an accurate portrayal of race relations? The premise seems to preclude it: Each race is neatly represented/epitomized by 2-4 characters.

    Attempting to distill race relations into 90 minutes is a nice thought, but an impossible task. Why compromise the issue of race with the 90 minute movie format? Why not fit the movie to the issue, instead of neatly fitting racism to the format of the movie? Will this be Haggis’ only race movie? If so, I think that speaks to the superficiality of his commitment to exploring race with his movies.


  4. MAC says:

    FWIW, I’ve heard a theory that “Crash” won because most of the Academy’s judges happen to live in LA and believe that the movie hit home. You might wanna consider the possible LA bias.

    Anyhow, props to Three 6 Mafia, they have more Oscars than Kubrick and Scorese.

  5. Dr. Deborah Serani says:

    I also agree that the LA sway had a lot to do with its win. BTW, congrats on your American Book award.

  6. EAT MY SHORTS says:

    Crash doesn’t suck Jeff, just because you and other race experts and tutors feel you know more about the subject than the auteurs of the film , and thats the conceit that most experts have, doesn’t mean the film sucked. It contained great actors, and was well directed and was provoking; yeah, the film was heavy handed at times and drew broad stereotypes, same as Charles Dickens novels, but that was the method it chose. I love Ang Lee and he got a great OScar but lets not hate on people who try ( and maybe fail but not in this ase) and spark important discusion. peace.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Going by my crowd’s reaction to it, I wouldn’t count on LA bias. As my best friend put it, “It’s like they wrote ‘RACISM’ on a baseball bat and hit you in the face.”

    People are, definitely, desperate for media that addresses race (and other societal issues) in any sort of serious way… I was just amused by the way every single person picking up that Best Picture Oscar was white as winter in Vermont.


  8. theothermichelle says:

    I thought CRASH was great because it didn’t TEACH us anything about race. It only asked the questions and left the viewer to ponder them. The impression I had at the end is that race is more complex and complicated than most movies show it to be. Racism is such an individual experience that it can’t be nailed down into a neat, simple little box for everyone to agree on.

    Compare it to a movie like American History X. A White supremicist skinhead kills a Black man in the most horrible way you can imagine, then he goes to prison and is befriended by a Black man and learns that Black people really aren’t so bad after all. Awww, happy story. The end. The movie tries to lead the viewer to cheer for the white “hero” at the end, like he just did something really great. It’s basically a white-feel good movie.

    Crash went into a different direction and made the statement that everyone can be a victim of racism and a racist at the same time. I haven’t seen that in any other movie.

    Don’t look for answers in the movie, look for the questions it raised. I think it deserves credit, not for raising awareness or pointing out issues (we already know about those things), but for focusing on questions most people are afraid to ask.

  9. Anonymous says:


  10. Anonymous says:

    I just finished watching Crash and I came across the case of Dr. Akom’s case on this blog. I researched it because although I have no reason to doubt the information I found on the Justice for Akom website, they really didn’t support their claims – which is NOT OK in the online world. I could make a website stating that Bush the best president ever and that the war in Iraq is all but won (in fact their are many that do so) – and though that claim could find some ounce of information somewhere to support it, the information is TOTALLY incomplete, likely unverifiable and obviously false(b/c TONS of credible information counters that Iraq is a disaster). What’s the POINT? The point is I wanted to hear information from eye witness reports, Akom’s statement, reputable reporters (say from CNN or NPR). I went to NPR then to CNN and found a link to an article and a police report. Now OF COURSE the police will all present a very unified front that they are right – more of the same corrupt system – but what surprised me was what it went on to say: 6 of 7 eye witnesses said that Akom started the altercation and the 7th stated he didn’t see the beginning of the fight. What’s up with that? These are his students, why would they lie? Now, I’m sure some of you have a million conspiracy theories about how it’s false information, etc. and maybe you’re right!… but racism comes from defaulting to hate and mistrust without knowing any facts. DON’T BE one of those racists who judges a people and a situation before they know the facts. So judge for yourself:
    Personally I believe racial profiling is a problem and if the cops are picking on this guy (which they probably are) then that’s not cool!… but starting a fight with them is NOT OK either. No matter what you say, violence always makes you wrong even if you were right to begin with. If you disagree, by all means post but I know the way to ending racial profiling and racism period is the TRUTH.

  11. Anonymous says:

    crash was such a piece of shit…..I finally watched it this week, and was extremely dissapointed. I hate these type of fucking movies where there are 100 things all happening at the same time, at the end of the movie I was like “is that it?” So Ludacris does the right thing, and Sandra Bullock hugs Maria (big fucking surprise that was her name). Racism is bad, lets hug and fuck 🙂 Piece of shit movie, I should have rented Talladega nights…..

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