The movie Crash, directed by Paul Haggis, starts off by saying, “It’s the sense of touch we miss, so much that we crash into each other just so we can feel something”. The word ‘touch’ suggests human connection, just as ‘feel’ suggests emotion. We, as humans, want to feel a common human existence. This search for human connection continues, despite several issues that separate us, and it is the search itself that provides the main theme of the movie. For this assignment, I will show how the movie’s use of gender roles relates to this theme from the sociological perspective.
Crash shows how gender roles can interfere with the connection between people. The traditional male roles of ‘provider’ and ‘protector’ are deeply evaluated. In one specific scene, Cameron, an African American film director, and his wife are pulled over by John Ryan, a racist police officer. Cameron’s wife begins to provoke the officer, refusing to comply, even after Cameron repeatedly asks her to. The couple is then checked for weapons. When Cameron doesn’t respond with aggression as John searches his wife in a ‘sexually suggestive way’, she takes it as him as not protecting her. She later accuses him of allowing the officer to humiliate her so the people he works with wouldn’t “read about him in the paper and realize that he’s actually black”. In a scene at the film studio where Cameron directs, this does seem to be a fear of his, as he quietly agrees to make a scene more racially stereotypical. So perhaps fear of job loss did factor into his failure in his protector role. However, if Cameron had become unemployed due to losing his public reputation, he’d eventually fail in his provider role. So he is torn between two equally demanding roles, and this role strain is precipitated by the racial discrimination he encounters. This causes a strain between the couple. She is hurt that he didn’t protect her somehow, and he is angry about her hostility towards the police officer. After her “careless” behavior causes problems for them, she further hurts his pride by making him feel insufficient. This puts an even bigger strain on their marriage, which seems to be on the verge of collapse.