Friday, February 22nd, 2013

'Crash': The Most Loathsome Best Picture Of Them All

Mallory: Has Crash suffered enough? Sure, it won homecoming queen at the Oscars, but then no one would let Crash sit with them at lunch for the next eight years. Ta-Nehisi Coates named it the worst movie of the decade; Natasha Vargas-Cooper referred to it as a "white guilt manipulation-a-thon." Even Slate wouldn't throw it a contrarian bone. It's The Most Popular Girl That Nobody Liked.

Anne Helen: No, it has not. This movie needs to keep suffering, because it will not stop hurting us. When it came up on Twitter the other night, someone suggested it's a PowerPoint presentation posturing as insight—and that feels true. It has the selfsame didacticism and banality of a white slide, Arial Font: RACISM IS BAD.

As the Oscars draw near, the next in a series about our strong movie opinions, past and present.

Mallory: Let us go back to 2005 and the year it won.

Anne Helen: This film was a bit of an indie-darling-that-could. Paul Haggis was hot stuff after writing Million Dollar Baby, which won Best Picture in 2004. Three months later, Crash hit theaters like the tsunami that hit all those nice white families on vacation in The Impossible. Critics kinda sorta liked it, the way critics kinda sorta do—it's the kind of film that curdles with time, so the real pushback didn't come until months later when a slew of nominations made it clear that people were taking this film, and its notions of race, seriously. And then it won Best Picture and Jesus wept.

Mallory: You are both correct and beautiful, Anne. This is the one that still stings. Every year we moan in chorus that the Oscars are terrible, that they reward cheap spectacle and sentiment over all else, that the idea that you can pick one movie out of an entire calendar year and call it the best in the first place is stupid and exhausting, something something How Green Was My Valley, but this was the most unkindest cut of all.

Anne Helen: We must wage a constant battle against the sort of toxic, seeping, ideological diarrhea that is Crash.

Mallory: The anti-Crash barricades must never be allowed to fall. According to Chuck Klosterman, it is wrongheaded and foolish to ever feel betrayed by popular culture. Yet I would argue that one can plot a straight line from Crash's Best Picture win to Californians passing a proposition banning gay marriage and a proposition making chickens being raised for slaughter more comfortable in the same year and congratulating themselves for doing so. Crash is the version of Cinderella where one of the ugly stepsisters successfully manages to slice off her toes and force her feet into the glass slippers; she strong-arms the prince into marrying her out of embarrassment and together they run the kingdom's economy into the ground, while Cinderella marries some cook's assistant and dies of TB before having any children.

Anne, shall we anticipate the cries of exhausted naysayers who think getting upset about the Oscars is a pointless exercise in trumped-up outrage?

Anne Helen: Yes, let's.

Mallory: Be warned, naysayers: we anticipate you. Of course Best Picture goes most often to forgettable middlebrow nonsense, but even those who slumber may occasionally be permitted to roll over in bed.

Anne Helen: It's a neoliberal shitshow. Its moral being: if individuals stop being racist or, more specifically, stop committing egregiously racist acts, like acts that even your five-year-old cousin can identify as racist, then VOILA, racism is gone. And then there's certainly no need for systemic change, or consideration of how systemic inequity has perpetuated racism between individuals.

Mallory: Right! It's "being racist" versus "doing something racist." Jay Smooth did a better job explaining this in three minutes than Crash did in however long Crash was. Crash is your friend's grandmother whose family is really proud that she doesn't say "colored" anymore. I mean, it is great that she doesn't say "colored" anymore; I don't want to take away from that. She's 83 years old and grew up in Georgia. That's not nothing. But it also very much isn't everything.

Anne Helen: If you need to understand that all people are racist towards all sorts of other people, just watch Do the Right Thing. On repeat, forever.

Mallory: Or season 1 of "Oz." But certainly don't watch anything where the writer rubbed his hands together and whispered "this is gonna blow their minds" after hacking his way through the last page.

Anne Helen: If Crash were just an annoyingly tone-deaf picture that won Sandra Bullock an award for Best Actress, I'd probably feel less harsh towards it. But Crash beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture, which, even now stands as a monstrous miscarriage of justice.

Mallory: Oh, Brokeback Mountain. People were so uncomfortable with that movie when it first came out. And, granted, it could have used a Sodomy Consultant for that tent scene. But it actually holds up quite well, inasmuch as it still holds the power to reduce me to a sentient, sobbing sore throat as of about a week ago.

Anne Helen: I can't forgive the Academy for seeing a movie about people living in Los Angeles, identifying, and voting with their "hey look, we're assholes, but curable assholes!" guilt—over a film of uncurable beauty. Brokeback Mountain is the anti-Crash. It tells us all that we are the assholes who perpetuate homophobia, who keep the jean jacket in the closet. My uncontrollable weeping at the end of that film was as much for Ennis as it was for our sad, scared selves.

Mallory: Here we part ways. Brokeback Mountain is not a movie about homophobia in the same way that Crash is about racism. It is about someone who has the misfortune of falling in love with someone incapable of change, and also about how hot it is to make out with someone that you are not supposed to be making out with.

Anne Helen: I heed your point, Mallory, and expand it: someone somewhere said that the more highly specific the situation, the more universal. So even though Brokeback is a highly specific story about man-love in a particular time and place, its resonance is universal in a way that Crash, with its billion-plot-lines-all-intersecting, HEY DID YOU KNOW WE'RE ALL HUMAN can never be.

Mallory: Oh my God, can you even imagine the Crash-y version of Brokeback Mountain?

JACK: I wish I knew how to quit you because socially, that would make my life easier. Yet I also regularly engage in unprotected anal sex, as is my right. Does this make you uncomfortable?

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: You people disgust me.

ENNIS: I hate Mexicans, but a Mexican woman saved my life. What am I supposed to do with this?

The MOUNTAIN crashes into everybody. They die. The MEXICAN WOMAN names her daughter Ennis, who grows up to be Hillary Clinton because anything is possible.

Mallory: But enough of Brokeback Mountain's virtues. It is a good and a fine movie and well worth watching, but that is not the task at hand. Let us list the reasons Crash's victory demeans us all.

Anne Helen: The music during the car crash scene is just horrible. The music during all the scenes is horrible. Ryan Phillippe is horrible, Thandie Newton is horrible, Terrence Howard's mock turtleneck is horrible, all these people are horrible. But redeemed through a moment of dramatic self-realization! If only Farhad had listened to what the locksmith was trying to tell him without being blinded by prejudice… but then, do any of us ever really listen? There are more cultural epiphanies in this movie than a "Sex and the City" voiceover. Crash is basically why Brecht starting being Brechtian.

Mallory: Also: every single one of the movie posters shows at least one of the characters howling in primal agony.

Anne Helen: Also Brendan Frasier being bloated.

Mallory: Here again we part ways. Brendan Frasier is above reproach, and I will not join you in your bloat-shaming.

Anne Helen: Also a curse on both your Scientology houses, Paul Haggis, for ruining "Adagio for Strings."

Mallory: You can't pin that on Haggis. That was ruined years before.

Anne Helen: Crash is one of those movies that when someone says it's one of their favorites, I have no choice but to dislike them. Guaranteed antipathy for the rest of our lives. Fuck being such an overdetermined signifier of worthlessness.

Mallory: Liking Crash is a symptom of the worst kind of moral and cultural laziness. I feel free to make the wildest assumptions about Crash enthusiasts: they probably also enjoy Dave Matthews' "Crash" and making Guy Fieri jokes. They pronounce it "cue-pon," not "coo-pon." They eat at the kind of restaurant where the provenance of each ingredient is carefully listed but the servers and bussers don't get health insurance. They buy scented candles and the wrong kind of disposable napkins. Crash fans also wade into the comments of news articles to take issue with referring to George Zimmerman as a murderer because "we don't have all the facts yet" and pride themselves on their objectivity. Related: I am a monster.

Anne Helen: Can we talk about how for many years the movie was perpetually #1 on Netflix's most-rented list? That fucking kills me. Why do people rent this movie? Do they rent it and realize that they never want to watch it because it's so self-congratulatory and head-thumpingly moralistic and thus never send it back? Or, WORST NIGHTMARE, do they rent it, watch it while sharing a bottle of Chardonnay, turn it off, and talk about how awful those things were but thank god we don't live in a place where racism is actually a problem?

Mallory: I do worry about this! I worry about these people very much (you're welcome, people. I am looking out for you).

Anne Helen: Crash pushes the sort of middlebrow pseudo-intellectualism that I have zero problem decrying. I'm not a total asshole; I'm constantly interrogating the conflation of taste and class. But as you say above, admiring Crash is lazy. Thinking it's deep is lazy.

Mallory: Also this movie has the worst and weirdest moral equations going on, like Q: If someone who sexually assaulted you later saves your life, is he still racist? A: My daughter is dead.

Anne Helen: Watch Queen of Versailles and think about whiteness and class, people! That's an indictment that will make you uncomfortable, which is what a movie about race and class should do.

Mallory: Crash winning was Achilles fighting Hector and losing. It was Harry Potter losing to Twlight (I actually do not hate Twilight and think Harry Potter got mega-ultra-boring by the end, but I know which world it is better to live in, especially if you know that you would be a supporting character). Crash is why we got The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock, there is much for which you will be asked to atone in the next life, even if you do have great hair and the kind of soporific smile that makes me feel like everything is going to be okay and your face looks like a friendly sun.

Anne Helen: TRUTH, MALLORY, TRUTH. Because even when people stop renting Crash on Netflix, its legacy is still with us. It's in The Blind Side, but it's also very much in The Help. I'm actually surprised there isn't a single "white people solve racism" film in this year's Oscar bunch—it's so incessant, so culturally assertive, so eager to be green-lighted by all manner of white execs who want to show that they're willing to cast black actors so long as their salvation is rooted in the extravagances of white privilege. Crash hurts my soul—but it's also an incredible teaching tool. When I'm talking about the mid-2000s in class, twenty years from now, I'll be able to point to it as a perfect crystallization of all America wishes it was and all it was not. That's a fucking tragedy, but that doesn't mean I'm not glad this film exists.Traces matter, however repugnant.

Mallory: I think it's wonderful that you think there will still be human teachers in American universities twenty years from now.

Previously in series: 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Is My Favorite Movie Of 2012

Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area. Her work has also appeared on The Hairpin, Slacktory and Ecosalon. Anne Helen Petersen writes Scandals of Classic Hollywood.

83 Comments / Post A Comment

dj pomegranate (#201,598)

My ex boyfriend would constantly recommend to this movie to whoever would listen, especially in conversations about racism. ("Dude. You really should watch Crash. It's amazing. It's all about racism. It's really deep. Really deep."( I'd only seen the opening few scenes –enough to know it was terrible– and really wish I had had the presence of mind to respond with, "Crash pushes the sort of middlebrow pseudo-intellectualism that I have zero problem decrying….It's a neoliberal shitshow."

Little Book of Calm (#157,178)

@dj pomegranate argh reminds me of when i went to see the Help with a bunch of friends and all of them were tearfully, exuberantly extolling its virtues afterwards… I just stood there aghast- had we seen the same fucking movie?!?!

then when i enragedly went on about how the movie was essentially self-congratulatory "racism is bad, and isn't everything so much better now" twaddle, they just looked at me indulgently and smiled at each other, "oh, she's on one of her rants again, how cute". AARRRRGHHHH. so glad pieces like this exist on the internets…

adidas (#14,359)

I saw Crash after reading the following, from David Denby:

"'Crash' is hyper-articulate and often breathtakingly intelligent and always brazenly alive. I think it’s easily the strongest American film since Clint Eastwood’s 'Mystic River,' though it is not for the fainthearted. In the first twenty minutes or so, the racial comments are so blunt and the dialogue so incisive that you may want to shield yourself from the daggers flying across the screen by getting up and leaving. That would be a mistake. 'Crash' stretches the boundaries: after the cantankerous early scenes, it pulls us into the multiple stories it has to tell and becomes intensely moving."

…and never trusted another Denby review again.

freetzy (#7,018)

@adidas Mystic River was a turd.

adidas (#14,359)

@freetzy No no, definitely not saying Mystic River is a tour de force; it's terrible and definitely worthy of comparison to Crash. The bits about the hyper-articulate, incisive, dagger-like dialogue that is "not for the fainthearted" were what got me in the theater.

chrissth (#250)

'Crash 2: Lincoln' FTW!

NorieY (#232,373)

So, confession time I guess? When Crash first came out, I liked it and thought it was important and a worthwhile message about racism. To be fair, I was a 13 year old white girl. I didn't understand racism AT ALL. Now that I've grown and am learning more about what racism really means, and what it is, and what my place is in it, I am sickened by how easily duped I was by Crash and other movies like it. I get what Anne is saying, though, that I'm almost glad it exists, because it's a good teaching tool about how white people think about racism, and what our cultural response has been to it.

Little Bobby Tables (#241,853)

Oh man, I'm 100% with you @NorieY . 14 year old (male, Indian) me loved this movie so much I saw it three times. 14 year old me was also an asshat.

Charlotte Flax (#234,743)

@NorieY This reminds me of the time I watched Higher Learning as (I think) a 12-year-old. It took a few years to realize that "LOOK RACISM EXISTS" wasn't an insightful commentary on anything at all.

deepomega (#1,720)

One day you're gonna have to explain Crash to your kids. How did we let Crash happen? Why didn't we stop it sooner? There will be a generational reckoning.

"not a single 'white people solve racism' film in this year's Oscar bunch"?

Hello? Lincoln?

AHP (#240,564)

@Matt Carlson@facebook INDEED. You are correct. I am incorrect. Now anticipating this same piece ten years from now re: Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty.

NorieY (#232,373)

@AHP This time next year: The Suffragist, a bold new film about the battle for the vote, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ralph Finnes, and Tom Hanks.

Little Book of Calm (#157,178)

@NorieY say it ain't so

metoometoo (#230)

@Matt Carlson@facebook Django Unchained, too, since Dr. King Schultz is the real hero/protagonist from a structural POV.

@AHP Actually ten years from now, the piece will probably be "Remember Argo?"

melis (#1,854)

@metoometoo I would have loved to have seen a version of Django Unchained that was actually about Django.

Little Bobby Tables (#241,853)

@Matt Carlson@facebook Slightly different, since Lincoln freed the slaves and won the civil war. Brendan Frasier did neither of those things, although to be fair I have yet to see Encino Man.

cupcakecore@twitter (#233,315)

@NorieY And for this, Leo will finally get his precious Oscar.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@melis Pretty sure there are no exploitation films, great or obscure, that focus on the black man's struggle. None whatsoever, certainly none about "Django". So what can QT do? How can he make a movie about movies when those movies don't exist??

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Matt Carlson@facebook Uh, Blacula?

Myrtle (#9,838)

@Danzig! "The Pursuit of Happyness" makes me raise my hand here.

And yet strangely, Haggis' next film was 'In The Valley of Elah' and it was everything 'Crash' was not. Elliptical, ambiguous and very genuinely sad…which is probably why no one saw it.

I blame Scientology.

Charlotte Flax (#234,743)

@Lionel Mandrake That movie was amazing, yet you and I are probably the only people who ever watched it.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

I'm not just imagining things when I say that there was an interpretive dance to Crash at the Oscars the year it was nominated in which that dance was so awful and hilarious that I laughed until drool flowed through my gritted teeth, right?

City_Dater (#2,500)

Thank you both for providing a link I can send to people who ask me "what do you meeeean you don't watch the Oscars and hardly ever see most of the nominated movies until years after they come out?"

CRASH. CRASH did that.

Leon (#6,596)

@City_Dater – For me it was when that pile of shit "Braveheart" beat out "Babe".

rcolin (#241,846)

While I don't want to defend the film too much, I do think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of Crash's version of liberalism. To me, the film has a "Canadian-white-liberal-guilt-problem" rather than a straightforward one. As Haggis was a Canadian-white-ex-pat, is think that part of the film's problem is a naivite and fundamental misunderstanding about the problems of race in America, and an earnest (and also equally naive) attempt to solve the problems. To me – as a white Canadian ex-pat living in America, this is a position that I relate to, as well Haggis' naivite (and various misunderstandings) which I know that I share., but that I think is very important to understanding the film, Haggis' position, as well as the film's version "white guilt." In other words, it's impossible to separate the fact that the film was a little movie that could (a story that Oscar voters love, regardless of the subject matter – see Leaving Las Vegas) as well as an outsider-looking-in piece which presents a very different tradition of liberalism which is more idealistic (and perhaps less realistic) than what is compatible with the American version. At the very least the film acknowledges that racism (whether structural, personal or institutional) actually exists, which is more than I can say for almost every other film or cultural work emerging from Hollywood does…
(Thanks for the provocation – and Lionel – the Valley of Elah is a really good film!)

Let's not drag down The Blind Side with this. Sure, it pandered to the middlebrow a bit more than, say, Moneyball, but it was pretty true to the book, and Michael Oher now has a Super Bowl ring.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Clarence Rosario Whoah, what? The book was about systemic structures of class and race. The movie was about a white woman saving a black dude.

@deepomega Hang on, I thought they were both about the monetization of the left tackle position?

Dan Packel (#10,421)

@Clarence Rosario And Oher now plays right tackle, so my faith in all of Michael Lewis's reporting has been shaken.

Well, yeah, the movie as a whole is ridiculously un-subtle, but the bit where James Spader fucks Rosanna Arquette's leg-wound in a car dealership really made me think about racism.

Alternate take : "the bit where William Shatner finally figures out the whole thing was due to a blown lightbulb"

melis (#1,854)

"The part at the end where you realize it all takes place in a snow globe at St. Elmo's Hospital."

Hanna Marin (#241,847)

There's only one point on which I disagree, and that's the assertion that it would be better to be a supporting character in Harry Potter than in Twilight. Being a supporting character in Twilight is way better, because you'd be ignored by all the worst people.

emberglance (#7,305)

Another thing, everyone knows Crash is a novel by JG Ballard and a David Cronenberg movie. There are a hundred other names Haggis could have chosen – "Whites In Pain," for example, or "Sadness And Confusion In The First World." Why go and name-bomb like that? On the other hand, talking about "Crash" to someone then peering into their eyes to see which movie they think you're talking about is quite a good way to work out what kind of person you're talking to.

rcolin (#241,846)

@emberglance An aside is that Cronenberg actually took out a public letter in one of Toronto's papers (and signed by other Canadian filmmakers) specifically telling him that it was bad form to use the same name, especially for the other, uh, more audacious, film…

@emberglance True fact I have to share every time this comes up: Until about a year ago I did not realize that there were two movies called Crash. So I knew there was a best-picture winning film about racism called Crash, but I also thought that film was directed by David Cronenberg and somehow involved people who were sexually excited by car crashes.

It was very confusing and I think I actually shouted, "OH, there are TWO!" when I figured it out.

Wanda_Tinasky (#241,848)

"self-congratulatory and head-thumpingly moralistic" Was that line about the movie or this article?

melis (#1,854)

I see what you did there.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Eh? I didn't hate it so much. Also, you could easily view Brokeback Mountain as equally smug, in its own way. There are dam-fool orthodoxies on all sides. But then, I didn't read Crash as How To Solve Racism, either. Just more like a weepy popcorn movie.

melis (#1,854)

@barnhouse Maria! Oh, this is exciting, we haven't gotten to have a good fight in a while. The smugness of BBM cannot begin to touch the smugness of Crash and you're a monster to say so. The "invisible cloak"? The scene where Sandra Bullock tells her maid she's her best friend? Crash fits more smug in eight seconds of frenzied, blubbering-Thandie-Newton screen time than Brokeback Mountain fits into three hours of watching sheep graze on the hills.

ericdeamer (#945)

@melis not to mention the fact that problem was Crash actually was pretty much conceived as How to Solve Racism and was received as such by the rich limousine/lifestyle liberals of the academy and that's why it won Best Picture. It may really have just been a weepy big budget melodrama but it was pitched as and talked about as much more than that and that's the problem.

hockeymom (#143)

@barnhouse @melis Smug Sandra in The Blind Side bugged me the most. The scene where she takes on the drug dealers was just annoying. Such a strong, southern woman standing up to those awful people! Out of the three movies, TBS irked me most which is kind of amazing, since it's basically a true story.

I'm a bad person.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@melis I'm in the car! Gird thy loins, though.

melis (#1,854)

@barnhouse I'm ready anytime, anywhere!

rcolin (#241,846)

@ericdeamer I do want to add context and state that the film was an independent in the true sense of the word (As opposed to simply being made by and for H'wood liberals). Shot for only 6.5 million, by a first time director (who leveraged and shot in his own house) and featuring a cast of actors who were not only not popular at the time, but in many cases seemed to have had their best days behind them (including Sandra Bullock and especially Matt Dillon, Brenden Fraser, and Ryan Philippe). I agree with you that this is a story for a particular audience, but the fact that it even reached that set is a feat in itself, given the realities of production and distribution. In all likelihood, all of those factors, as much as the film's message, and its underdog story, played into the Academy's sensibilities. These are voters who are not necessarily ever voting for a best picture, but only for whose professional story (ie, Crash was a little picture that could…) is the most compelling.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@melis The movie that explains Crash best is It's a Wonderful Life, a likewise sentimental movie that was likewise loathed by the intelligentsia of its time, cf. John McCarten's review in The New Yorker, which the above discussion rather resembles. In each case you have a film which everyone will admit was made with a loving heart, and for a good purpose, but goodness yucks people out when it's not aesthetically correct. Too much reveling in the goodness will yuck them out to the nth degree. (Brokeback Mountain is a similarly moralistic movie but an aesthetically correct one, sophisticated, cynical, stylish.) I can see that Crash is shallow and sentimental but I can only honor the impulse that is looking to make us see past all the bullshit of our stupid society and be more loving. That can only and ever be a good thing, as will in the fullness of time become evident, just as it did in the case of It's a Wonderful Life (though a lot of too-cool people still complain and always will.)

NormaDesmond (#13,452)

I just want to mention that I had to stop reading this in the middle, log in to facebook, see which of my friends are fans of it on said website, and immediately feel gratified in my already-established disdain for every single one of them.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I'm OK with the movie itself. Sure, it's a caricature "message"-wise, but at least it's filmed well and does a thorough job of exploring the location and rooting itself in it – visually and cinematically.

But yeah, the problem is that after it gained some publicity and ended up winning the Oscar, it became a favorite movie of people who know nothing about movies, and a favorite work of philosophy for idiots who can't think to swear by and talk loudly and gesticulate about, while it's really the dumbest thing to have a discussion about.

So, I don't hate the movie, I hate the people who love it.

@Niko Bellic Every time I see that publicity photo for "Crash", I remember my high school acting teacher telling her astonished students that Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" was the easiest role in any play to perform, because "the easiest thing to do on stage is scream, and the second easiest thing to do is cry."

The last scene alone of 'Brokeback Mountain' is better than the entirety of 'Crash'. And to put it in straight guy calculus – when Ennis smells Jack's shirt, it destroys me the same way the death of Spock in 'Wrath of Khan' does.

SuperMargie (#1,263)

@Lionel Mandrake Both of those scenes caused me to ugly-cry and almost take to my bed in the worst way. Once when I was twelve, the other time when I was thirty-five.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Lionel Mandrake When I finally forced myself to watch Brokeback Mountain, I was "meh" through the entirety of it, until that last scene at which point I finally gave it a pass as a worthy film in my book. Ending a movie is an art in itself, and (apparently) very difficult to do well. But in this case, that great ending totally "tied the room together".

blueblazes (#238,044)

@Niko Bellic Credit the book with the good ending. The movie just did what the book did.

nonvolleyball (#9,329)

@Lionel Mandrake the other day I started crying while describing that scene to someone else–& I haven't seen the movie since it came out. that's some successful filmmaking right there.

Mr. B (#10,093)

Man, nobody likes movies up in here. I totally think Brokeback should've won, too, even though it dragged in the scenes with the Larry McMurtry-added filler. But I'd still take Crash over LOTR, Titanic, Chicago, or that worst-ever Russel Crowe vehicle which name I will not utter.

PoignancySelz (#238,693)

The best part is when Sandra Bullock marries that white supremacist.

LondonLee (#922)

Heath Ledger was robbed too.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@LondonLee That was the greater Oscar crime of that year, although Ledger did have a good quip about it. ("I thought the award was for the best acting, not the most acting.")

illcommunication (#13,090)

I haven't seen Crash but I read this for the authors. Please continue co-write things, AHP and melis. Also… I like Dave Matthew's "Crash"… melis please don't judge me? It was one of the first albums I owned, ok?

I am not particularly high minded, but I did not like Crash. Really, about the only thing I even remember about it now is thinking, there are only two policemen in all of LA? It's like Mayberry.

Can I just say one more thing? For me, The Greatest Show on Earth (Cecil B. DeMille, 1952) is the worst-ever Oscar winner. Have you seen it? Man, is it bad. Charlton Heston at his hammiest.

Poubelle (#214,283)

@LyingOutOnDecaturRoad It beat out High Noon, too. I would also rather watch the Quiet Man, Ivanhoe, or Moulin Rouge than Greatest Show on Earth.

This was so awesome and perceptive, except for this point: "I'm actually surprised there isn't a single "white people solve racism" film in this year's Oscar bunch—it's so incessant, so culturally assertive, so eager to be green-lighted by all manner of white execs who want to show that they're willing to cast black actors so long as their salvation is rooted in the extravagances of white privilege." Hello!! Have you not heard of Django Unchained?!

melis (#1,854)

@District Diva@twitter Very true! Both 'Lincoln' and 'Django' can definitely fit into this category; Anne and I should have caught that.

Danzig! (#5,318)

Which is worse, do you think: Crash, or the cavalcade of Alejandro González Iñárritu films that came after it?

Matt McCabe@twitter (#226,611)

Speaking of weak, "As Good As it Gets" really wasn't.

I might feel the way you guys did if I hadn't seen the movie in a Magic Johnson Theater in Harlem where some people behind me ululated every time the Persians were on screen. You think a movie's heavy-handed until you've experienced that in real time. Also I think it's worth something that a person's racism or misogyny or anything else, no matter how deplorable, is not the whole of that person and not necessarily permanent (re: almost everyone's grandmother and George Wallace). Also, I would have given the Oscar to any movie over Brokeback solely because of how bad Hathaway's aged makeup was toward the end.

It's Brendan FRASER. Sheesh.

The other obvious point about CRASH: If you want to see an ACTUAL multiple-plot-line-set-in-LA tour de force look no further than Altman's SHORT CUTS, of which CRASH is a blatant ripoff.

questingbeast (#201,738)

Also, apart from Brokeback the other nominees were Munich, Capote and Good Night and Good Luck, which are all pretty decent. They had to try really quite hard to pick something that was not.

pliley@twitter (#241,914)

There was a "'white people solve racism' film"; it was called Lincoln. It pretty much ignored African American activism against slavery.

Quadrophenia (#241,916)

I can tell you why that movie has stayed at the top of the Netflix most-rented list. The list was started around the same time that Crash came out on DVD and won best picture, and there is no worse time to work in Netflix's customer service than Oscar time, because people go NUTS renting anything that won or was even nominated. The list didn't count any rentals before it was created, so Crash got an early foothold in the top spot. Then people kept renting it because hey, it's the most rented movie on Netflix, it must be good. Ad infinitum.

Crash is only on my Netflix queue because I put all of the Best Picture winners in it. I also put the AFI's 100 greatest movies in it.

contradicto (#443)

"If Crash were just an annoyingly tone-deaf picture that won Sandra Bullock an award for Best Actress, I'd probably feel less harsh towards it."

Sandra Bullock won for the other white guilt movie.

Inverness (#250,980)

I get the problems with "Crash." But it does seem like they are trying a bit too hard: "Those who like (the film) probably also enjoy Dave Matthews' "Crash" and making Guy Fieri jokes. They pronounce it "cue-pon," not "coo-pon." They eat at the kind of restaurant where the provenance of each ingredient is carefully listed but the servers and bussers don't get health insurance. They buy scented candles and the wrong kind of disposable napkins. Crash fans also wade into the comments of news articles to take issue with referring to George Zimmerman as a murderer because "we don't have all the facts yet" and pride themselves on their objectivity. Related: I am a monster.


joeclark (#651)

Annie Proulx wreaked merciless revenge.

Note that the same crime occurred again in miniature when the old liberal Jews of Hollywood voted for Searching for Sugar Man (romantic vizmin guitarist reeking of authenticity despite being a fraud) over How to Survive a Plague (authentic).

Myrtle (#9,838)

One of the theories presented in this chat, proven true by Saint Brad Pitt Saves the Day in this years' Oscars.

heyjackie (#231,336)

Thank you for this write up. Crash gives every mediocre movie that wins Best Picture a comeback: "Well, Crash won, so…"

FredR (#282,494)

Come on Mallory. I know you're better than this cheesy hipster Crash-hate. talk about middlebrow!

165576146@twitter (#282,513)

Oh no! White people are offended about a movie that makes them look bad? Well… WELCOME TO EVERY OTHER ETHNICITY'S WORLD!!! Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, you name it, are stereotyped in Hollywood ALL THE TIME!

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