Crash Character Analysis

The film Crash takes its audience through multiple characters lives and illustrates just how much evil there is in the world today.  While taking the audience on this ride of emotions, it teaches us to realize it is never too late to redeem one’s self and change. Race played a big part in the negative actions against each other throughout the film, but it also focused in on relationships not just between husbands and wives but also with friends, family, authority, and society. I chose to follow Christine during the film because she captivated me with her confidence and determination yet being so completely vulnerable in every scene.

            Despite what the society would like to believe, the world has not changed as much as we think. Stereotypes are more present than ever. Racism is still seen everywhere and predetermined judgments have become more real to us than ever before. The main reason for this is the lack of acceptance of other cultures and unwillingness to understand why individuals are the way they are. Crash demonstrates this throughout the film through every character. Christine proved a great character to analyze because of the easiness to relate to her, which fascinated me.

Christine demonstrated her feelings through a number of nonverbal behaviors. Her Contentious style gave her this demanding attitude for being right. Much like the Dominant style, this style includes aggression. Christine comes off as very aggressive towards her husband after their run-in with the police. When they arrived home, she instantly started a fight. She wanted to fight. She pushed and pushed until he finally gave in and yelled back. She is very self-assured of herself and goes against the many stereotypes given to her through her race. Her movement in the bedroom came off as severe and forceful. She undressed very dramatically and did not sit still. Her appearance in the film was that of sophistication. She came off as wealthy, classy, and educated. Her clothing choice provides us with the idea that she is of high status. Men see her as attractive. The dress she was wearing when Cameron and her were pulled over was a bit seducing which Officer Ryan took advantage of. Her ectomorph frame made her seem unable to fight back. She looks very fragile with her thin frame. Her vocal behavior was seen as hostile at the beginning of the film. She was consistently sarcastic in the scene with the police officers as well as at home with her husband. Almost every offhand comment she made towards Cameron was sarcastic and mocking. She speaks intelligently though, coming off as well educated and complex. She is fluent when speaking, never stuttering or hesitating. When reaching a point she is trying to prove she raises her voice, reiterating her aggressive nature.

Christine uses touch to find reassurance from Cameron after their fight. She attempts to link arms with him while walking through the set at his work. She does this to show that she is not only sorry but also to prove that she still loves him and needs him. When he pulls away, it is clear that her world is about to come crashing down. She needed that reassurance from him that everything was going to be okay and he would not give it to her. While their fight was due to the actions of the racist officer, it stemmed down to Cameron’s lack of awareness of the racism Christine thinks he doesn’t see. Chronemics affect Christine dramatically. She wants to live in the present but is constantly referring to the past. She constantly reminds Cameron of their African American past and why things are the way they are. She refuses to let the past define her or her husband, which is ironic because by reacting this way, the past is indeed defining her.

Christine feels very strongly that she and other African Americans including her husband are still discriminated against. She feels intensely against putting a stop to this but it nearly puts an end to her marriage. She is confident and successful and knows it. Her perception of self from an ethnic standpoint affects her interaction with others. As much as she fights against the idea of being defined by her race, her obsession over it leads to her unintentionally letting race define her.  Christine allows it to rule most of her interactions in society and in her relationships. According to the Standpoint Theory, Christine is letting her ‘social location’ (which is defined as gender, race, and class) run her life. Kinefuchi says, “Social locations shape people’s lives. All people are placed into racial or ethnic groups based on dominant classification systems, which influence how they perceive and come to understand the world around them” (71). From a racial standpoint, Kinefuchi states, “experience and perspective encompass a critical understanding of how one’s life is shaped by larger social and political forces” (74). Christine understands what social and political forces have put her ancestors through and accepts that her heritage is a part of who she is. However, she allows it to rule a little too much of her life. She almost seems to be against all whites in general, believing them all to be racist and harmful.

Some socioeconomic variables that contribute to her identity are her education, wealth, and status. I do not think that the majority of individuals see Christine the way she sees herself. Even though Officer Ryan views her and treats exactly as she expects him to, the other officer obviously does not see her this way. Christine needs to understand that there are always going to be a few people that see you the way you believe them to see you but this is sometimes due to expecting it from them. Society as a whole in North America sadly does notice the color of her skin as one of the first things one notices. But this is also due to the fact that appearance is the first thing one observes in nonverbal communication and can be the most dominant element. Although North Americans notice her race first, I believe it is usually not in a negative way as it used to be in the past. Society seems to look past race these days especially after communication takes place. They probably view her as successful, educated, and confident. All of which are true, she should be proud of this. When looking at the Standpoint Theory again, Individuals are going to view each other differently, depending on their upbringing, and education level. “Vantage points are the result of a person’s field of experience as defined by social group membership” (Kinefuchi 74). How an individual was raised and educated is naturally going to affect how they view others. If one was raised to look past race and see people for whom they really are, viewpoints are going to be fairer.

Personally, I view this character as a hardworking, highly intelligent, beautiful woman. She is my favorite character in this movie because she is determined and refuses to accept anything less than she deserves. She stands up for her beliefs and shows her emotions with pride. This character is absolutely misunderstood, especially by her husband. Her anger and hurt towards her husband is due to a very dramatic situation they were both placed in. I think in her vulnerable state, she looked to her only sense of security, being Cameron, to save her. And he couldn’t. This is a horrible situation and it is hard to say what the correct action would have been. Christine views her culture group as discriminated against. Its not that she wants blacks to be superior or dominant over whites, she just wants to be seen as equal. She measures her ideas of other culture groups in relation to her own. She see’s whites as unfair and unjust people because of how they have been treating African Americans for centuries. Christine’s level of xenophobia is interesting. She comes off strong and confident, but deep down she really is terrified of whites in power positions. I think history has led her to have this fear, which is understandable. However, I do not think she is simply afraid of white people. She just struggles when put in a position where she could be taken advantage of.

This character taught me many things. For one, Christine made me really want to stand firm in my beliefs and not back down for anyone or anything. She also influenced my clearer understanding of how racism is not over. After viewing the film, her character along with others really pushed me to take notice of the world around me. But it also taught me that there is this internal ‘good’ in every single person regardless of how evil they may come off as. One of the universal truths reinforced by this character was that of how we find reassurance. In relationships we look for reassurance from our significant other for not only love but also for a sense of security. I believe a big part of being with someone intimately is this need to feel safe. Another truth Christine reinforced for me was that we sometimes let our emotions get the best of us. Reacting abruptly on our emotions can end brutally.

After watching Crash and closely analyzing Christine, I learned a few things about myself. I found myself relating to her through the film, not in discrimination but in relationships. I realized that I too need reassurance of love and safety through touch. I expect my significant other to protect me from all the bad things unconsciously, when in fact this is just not possible and completely unfair to him. I also learned that I too let my emotions direct my actions too easily. I need to start taking some time to calm myself before reacting so quickly. Christine and I both have a direct approach when interacting with others. We don’t hold back. We say what we want to say and refuse to accept being wrong until its too late. I can think of many instances of pushing someone to the limit because I believed so strongly that I was in the right when I really just needed to let it go and pick my battles. Lastly, if I were able to influence Christine a little with becoming a better communicator, I would tell her to see things from both perspectives when in a conflict. I think if she did this she might have realized where Cameron was coming from. I would also tell her not to go into conflicts so aggressively because it immediately sets the tone for hostile communication. It is a lot more difficult to reason with an angry person and understand what they are trying to convey when they come off dominant.

Overall this movie was a big eye opener. It was real and made you think about how society rules us. I believe there is always someone or something from the past that has influenced a person to be the way they are. It is not an excuse to treat people poorly, but it is a window into the understanding of where these hostile actions come from. Christine was a compelling character to analyze. A lot of her nonverbal communication behaviors were relatable and I enjoyed letting myself see why she is the way she is. It was clearing to see all of the similarities between us when it came to handling conflict.

Orbe, Mark P., and Etsuko Kinefuchi. “Crash Under Investigation: Engaging Complications Of Complicity, Coherence, And Implicature Through Critical Analysis.” Critical Studies In Media Communication 25.2 (2008): 135-156.Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

Richmond, Virginia P., James C. McCroskey, and Mark Hickson. Nonverbal Behavior in Interpersonal Relations. Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2011. Print.

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