Cultural identity is an important concept that will be analyzed in this essay. Identity is “the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person” according to Freud (1921, qt. in Hall & Du Gay 3). Crash portrays the search for and development of cultural and gender identity or identities in films (Everett), the relationship between culture and social relationships and issues of individualism and community (Sefcovic), as well as relationships between high and low culture (Barnett and Allen). Understanding cultural identity entails the identification of cultural contradictions, doubts, and uncertainties that shape the formation and changing of cultural identities (Everett 2005). One of the contradictions that people experience is characterized by their race and gender. Cameron Thayer, and his wife, Christine, experience discrimination when a racist cop, Officer John Ryan, stops and searches them. For John, there is a contradiction between being black and being rich and successful. In order to humiliate Cameron further, John molests his wife by touching her private parts. Christine looks to Cameron to defend her, but Cameron is paralyzed by his fear of authorities. He has doubts about his own masculinity, because of his race. This scene explores gender and racial discrimination, where the white male exhibits power over the females and black people. Dorri also undergoes sexual offense, although in a verbal way, because of how the gun shopkeeper speaks with her. At
the same time, her race is a subject of uncertainty. Her father’s shop has just been attacked because they were seen as Arabs, even when in reality, they are Persians. They see the large difference between being an Arab and being Persian, and yet society treats the Middle East as a homogenous region. These women undergo psychological hardships because of how men perceive them as sexual objects, and how society demarcates and assigns different values to people because of their racial characteristics. The African American youth culture is a sub-culture that the dominant white society feels threatened of. The youth culture, in particular, is gangsta culture, with its repulsion of law and control, as well as parental authority. Peter abandons his mother, while his brother is the police. The youth becomes particularly chaotic when compared with the formalities and orderliness of conventional society. Two young black men, Anthony and Peter, leave a restaurant, and Anthony claims that they have been victimized by racial discrimination. Then, when they see Jean and Rick Cabot, a white couple, walk down the sidewalk, Antony notices that Jean clutches Rick's arm, after seeing them. Anthony believes that they are once again being prejudiced because they are two young black males. Apparently, however, Jean is right, because the two draw handguns and carjack Cabots' black Lincoln Navigator.