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 scene, a black film director named Cameron is pulled over by a racist police officer named John Ryan. Cameron’s wife is with him, and soon begins antagonizing the officer and refusing to comply, even at Cameron’s repeated request, and so they are checked for weapons. When Cameron responds without aggression as John frisks his wife in a sexually suggestive way, she perceives him as failing to protect her. She later accuses him of allowing her humiliation 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 an argument between the two. 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 the couple, 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.