Crash Rhetorical Analysis Essay

For your first formal essay you will be required to write 5-6 pages discussing the film Crash. This will be a ?thesis-driven? essay, meaning you will have to make an argument and prove your argument through evidence. Your evidence will consist of references to the primary text as well as from at least THREE secondary sources. At least two of these secondary sources must be academic essays, and the other(s) can consist of reviews, interviews, articles, or any other source that supports an ?academic ethos.?
Specifically, your essay will address the following topic: In his essay Racial Privacy, The L.A. Ensemble Film, and Paul Haggis?s Crash, Hsuan L. Hsu calls the film?s treatment of racial relations in Los Angeles ?problematic.? Hsu argues that like many of the LA ensemble films that came before it, Crash?s focus on ?Individual and interpersonal relationships…occludes crucial and profoundly damaging institutional, legal, and historical aspects of racism? (13). Further, Hsu takes umbrage with the film?s central philosophy, which he calls ?abstract universalism,? a notion that holds all the film?s characters?regardless of race?equally accountable for, and capable of, racist behavior. This ?color-blind? or ?anti-racist? message, according to Hsu, perpetuates a legacy of ?white male privilege? that allows current forms of systematic racism, like income inequality and access to public health, to ?run on autopilot.? In other words, Hsu argues, ?racism paradoxically assumes the form of ?racial-blindness.?? Hsu uses the example of Ward Connerly and Prop 209 to make his point.
For your essay, you will respond to Hsu?s ideas. Take a position of agreement or disagreement with his thesis that Crash?s treatment of racial relations in LA is ?problematic.? If you agree with Hsu elaborate on his criticism of ?abstract universalism.? Aside from the examples he gives, how does Crash ?occlude crucial and profoundly damaging institutional, legal, and historical aspects of racism?? Also, you might like at Hsu?s other criticisms of the film, for example that its portrayal of non black and white characters is marginalizing.
If you disagree with Hsu, you may write a rebuttal in support of ?abstract universalism,? and how it?s illustrated in the film (see Paul Gilroy). You may also show how Crash does in fact take into account ?crucial and profoundly damaging institutional, legal, and historical aspects of racism.? Where and how does the film do this (the assistant DA?s speech, for instance)? You may also argue that the film?s reliance on melodrama is not na?ve, but an effective rhetorical choice.

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