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    Communication in the Movie Crash Essay

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    Intercultural Communication, stereotyping, perception, and verbal communication play a huge role in the characteristics of the movie “Crash. ” When Paul Haggis directed this film he did a fantastic job of showing how individuals from different cultures, and countries, sometimes interact with each other in society. It goes into great depth to link the problems and situations in the characters’ lives in the setting of the movie making sure they are involved with each other in some way. Intercultural Communication is defined as “an act that involves interaction between people whose cultural perceptions and symbol systems are distinct enough to alter the communication event. ” The text explains that the importance of Intercultural Communications have grown in the United States over the years.

    In the U. S it is made up of many people and demographic shifts. The increasing number of Asians, Latinos, and Eastern Europeans immigrate here to make their homes. When this takes place these individuals bring their cultural values, and styles of communicating.

    Wood, pg. 79) When “Crash” starts the first scene is a car accident that takes place at an active crime scene where an Asian woman hits Detective Graham and Ria from behind at a stop light. Language barriers are almost immediately known as they begin to argue over who was at fault. While they both speak English the Asian lady simply uses what she feels is direct communication in stating that “She break to fast” and “Mexicans don’t know how to drive” the direct response from Ria is that she was breaking and she attacks the Asian by making fun of her horrible grammar. Saying “I blake to fast” She also made sure to state, that it needed to be noted that the Asian didn’t stop on time.

    Using a direct stereotype showing the barriers to intercultural communication. Stereotyping, can be positive or negative. It is information that a person has gathered about a certain group of people and take that knowledge and over generalizes it and often times makes a negative evaluation about that group. An example would be if a person see’s a show and it conceives a person to be a certain way, and you assume that all people of that race or gender are the exact same. An example of this is how the locksmith was often viewed in the movie. When he was changing the locks at the Cabot’s he was referred to as a thug, a thief, and someone who must be dishonest based on how he looked.

    He was later perceived as someone who ripped the store owner off when he was actually explaining the situation with the door correctly, yet the language barrier didn’t allow the store owner to understand. The locksmith was nothing as described instead he was an honest man trying to provide for his family. Instead stereotyping, prejudice, and language were all barriers for these individuals not have effective verbal communication. In another seen Officer Ryan calls his father’s insurance company to see if he can see another doctor to get the proper care for an infection that is keeping him up at night. Shaniqua the agent at the company is a black female who is very respectful and as helpful as she can be is attacked by Ryan when he doesn’t get the answers that he wants. He learns her name and states that she is worthless in helping him because she is black.

    When he comes into the office and still doesn’t get the answer he wants and once again attacks her verbally stating that she has her job because of his father. And that white people are much better qualified for the position. He showed prejudice in the aspect that he feels his race was better and more qualified than hers. The obstacles that take place in the movie in regards to intercultural communication besides stereotyping which is seen more than once, also include perception, prejudice, self-bias and discrimination.

    I see multiple times in the viewing of “Crash” how perception played a part, the book for this class states that perception is “the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting data in a way that enables us to make sense of the world. ” For example during the traffic stop of the couple with Officer Hansen, and Officer Ryan, Hansen’s perception it that Ryan handles his traffic stops in an unprofessional way, yet he does nothing to stop him. Ryan’s perception of the couple is that because they were of darker skin they might be dangerous. At the end of the movie when Hansen gave Georgie a ride, his perception of him caused him to take Georgie’s life. He was a black kid, reaching into his pocket, so he must have been dangerous.

    Another thing I took notice of in the movie in regards to our book was the use of owning your own thoughts and feelings. Owning your thoughts and feelings are part of the Guidelines for effective verbal communication. People don’t think that the way we speak sometimes makes a person perceive what we are saying a certain way. The text states “to take responsibility for your feelings, rely on I-language and you-language. The I-language identifies the speakers or perceivers thought and feelings, where the you-language attributes intentions and motives onto another person. (Wood, pg.

    89) In “Crash” When the Thayer’s got home after being pulled over Mrs. Thayer attacked the Mr. by saying you didn’t protect me, you let him molest, you didn’t want people you work with to see us on the news and know you’re black. Later when she went to his job she changed the you’s to I’s yet still didn’t get his full attention in that moment. Another scene at the end of the movie shows Mrs. Cabot explaining to her friend that she is lonely, and angry and that is why she acts out and treats people the way she does.

    Self-serving bias is when an individual constructs attributions that serve our personal interest. It takes place when a person is inclined to attribute positive actions and successes to internal and stable factors. Though we make assumptions about behaviors that are developed they are not always accurate. (Wood, pg.

    52) In my opinion the best example of a self-serving bias in this movie took place when Mrs. Thayer got into an accident and Officer Ryan made the choice to save her. Knowing that he molested her before the accident at a traffic stop, I believe him saving her was his way of telling himself he isn’t a bad person, that saving her would make him better and erase what he had done prior. The same works for when Anthony let the people in the van go free, he could have made money and sold them yet decided that while he is a thief, and a thug if he did this act he would be a better person.

    Intercultural communication, verbal communication, self-serving bias, stereotyping, and perception play a major role in the movie “Crash” The director links the many cultures and races and brings them together forming relationships that show struggle and how the situations are dealt with. There’s many positives that come from the situations in the movie as well as the multiple negatives, you can look at the situations and form your own perceptions of what you think of a situation and perceive what should have taken place instead of what did.


    Wood, Julia T. Communication Mosaics: A New Introduction to the Field of Communication. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. , 1998.

    Print. Crash. Lions Gate Entertainment, 2005. Film.

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