Mar 29 2006

Is Crash a “White Supremacist” film?

GUEST: Robert Jensen, Professor of Media Ethics and Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, author of several books including “Citizens of the Empire,” and “The Heart of Whiteness : Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege”

“Crash,” a film with interlocking stories set in Los Angeles, took home the Oscar for best picture at the Academy Awards earlier this month. The film has been hailed by many critics as one of the most “intelligent” and “provocative” looks at race relations in recent film history. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, even noted that “Crash,” could be helpful for the city’s diverse residents to see their commonalities and move beyond prejudice. However, not all critics agree with the positive assessments of the film. Hip-Hop historian Jeff Chang and Sylvia Chan discussed the shortcomings of the movie in a piece published in Alternet entitled, “Can White Hollywood Get Race Right?” My next guest, Robert Jensen, Professor of Media Ethics and Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, is also critical of “Crash.” He calls the film “white supremacist.” Jensen was recently named one of the “101 Most Dangerous Academics in America” by right winger David Horowitz.

Robert Jensen will be speaking on April 4th at 4PM on at Chapman University’s Orange campus, at the Argyros Forum 209 A & B.

Read Robert Jensen’s piece on Crash.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Is Crash a “White Supremacist” film?”

  1. Marie Nubia-Felicianoon 29 Mar 2006 at 10:17 am

    As always, Robert Jensen provides a critical analysis of race and privilege in this society that is not often heard for fear of “mudding the waters”. I read his article regarding “Crash” and was glad to see him articulate so well what I felt after watching this film. It was a good attempt but fell short of addressing the real issue – the system in which all these characters found themselves in. This may be a harder issue to address but we must if we are to truly have an open discussion of race and privilege and their detrimental effects on our society.

  2. Linda Carreraon 29 Mar 2006 at 8:35 pm

    I was very happy to hear this discussion this morning because Crash angered me. It was so simplistic and when Haggis won the award,I thought, “Here’s a director that did C work on his movie and will now never go for the A+ because he was rewarded too soon. He has no incentive now to raise his social consciousness to a higher level.”

  3. John Carreraon 29 Mar 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Crash belongs to a genre of audacious filmmaking that tragically defines its intellectual abyss w/ the echo of its own applause.

  4. JustJackon 30 Mar 2006 at 8:48 am

    Fantastic analysis but for its fatal flaw; a fiction story is judged and branded because of its failure to live up to the impossible and irrational expectations for it. I agree with Jensen’s overall critique but, as a fiction writer, it is very difficult for me to accept that a story can be “white supremacist” merely because it fails to live up to the claims of its fans (or because it wins and Academy Award–a problematic distinction by a problematic entity). This is a work of fiction yet Jensen demands it be documentary or “real life.” In such a demanding climate is it even possible for any work of fiction to be judged within its corners and not by the claims made for it by its publishers/producers/marketeers or its critics?

  5. Joe Farison 03 Apr 2006 at 10:01 am

    I first want to thank the producers of Uprising for making their programs available on line free of charge after their original airing.

    Second, I very much welcome the wonderful diversity of opinion displayed on the show–opinions so often absent in the mainstream.

  6. Kevinon 03 Apr 2006 at 11:44 am

    What an unfortunately smug and ill-informed review. Jensen is recycling the same negative backlash remarks already heard from critics like Scott Foundas and one commentator at Counterpunch. On the one hand, we get comments that criticize the portrayal of various characters as racial stereotypes or as reaffirmations of those stereotypes. On the other, we get comments that the film is designed to comfort a white liberal point of view. Both of these are easily rebutted. Of course Haggis is reflecting a white liberal point of view – He’s a white liberal! How was he supposed to think? Would the movie only be relevant if someone of another ethnicity made it? Doesn’t anyone think that it’s important that a white person put something on film that forces whites to acknowledge their own behavior and beliefs? And as for the various comments that have been made regarding the ethnic characters being presented as this stereotype or that – keep in mind that the film deliberately complicates each character so that it’s impossible to pin them to a single stereotypical image. Every time the audience is ready to think a character is completely in one direction, the character surprises you and goes the other way. Simplistic and smug denunciations of the film may sound like the hip thing to do at the moment, but they don’t reflect an intelligent or informed analysis.

  7. john kevroson 15 Apr 2006 at 6:24 pm

    jensen is an ass. my partner went to UT and knows him very well. he’s a self-serving, solipsistic narcissist. he has zero credibility.

  8. Em Windon 20 Jun 2007 at 9:51 am

    Jensen’s review is simplistic. There may be a message of tolerance, but there are other messages as well. Christine, for instance, is not left with only the ability to thank Ryan after he saves her. In fact, when she looks back at him, she is not saying ‘thanks’, she is asking ‘Why?’ She hasn’t forgotten about their encounter the night before. Neither has he. Ryan gets caught in traffic at a stop sign as he’s losing it. He isn’t patting himself on the back, he’s conflicted. He’s not clearly a hero.

    Also, white supremacy is obviously portrayed in the film. When the DA’s marketing rep pulls the detective into the boardroom and makes an offer he can’t refuse–that’s clearly insight into who’s running the show. White power is clearly portrayed in that scene.

    It almost feels to me like Jensen didn’t even watch the movie. He sets up a strawman that is obvious to anyone who’s ever seen the film.