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Selective Perception In Paul Haggis' Crash

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Sociology 113AE

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Selective Perception in Paul Haggis' Crash

Prejudices are the strong backbone to the concept of racism. They are the labels and images that we designate to a group of people on the basis of what we imagine to be the characteristics of all members of that group. More often than not, they are incorrect and incomplete. The film Crash, directed by Paul Haggis, addresses the strong existence of prejudices against many groups from various perspectives in today's society.

One of the more predominant prejudices presented in Haggis' film comes in the form of selective perception. Selective perception prevents people from seeing the truth of other individuals because of the labels we place on them. Selective perception allows for people to see only what they choose to. Several of the characters in Crash exhibit selective perception while identifying the race of others outside their own. Often times when someone identifies someone outside their own race on the basis of looks, they are quick to make a wrongful assumption of that person's heritage. These assumptions are often insensitive to a person's true race and viewed as ignorance by the victim of them. An example of this in Haggis' Crash involves a situation when an Iranian store keeper and his family finds hateful words about Arabs written on the walls of his store after a robbery. The family is insulted by these terms because Iranians are not Arabs, they are in fact Persian. "Since when are Persians Arab?" the mother asked. Whoever performed the vandalism made a wrongful assumption of their heritage, due to selective perception. Other similar instances to this can also be found in the film. Two young black males refer to a Korean man as a "China-man", while another man refers to his San Salvadorian and Puerto Rican significant other as "Mexican". Those who commit this form of prejudice almost never are aware of doing so. They are affected by the labels that have been drilled into there heads by the group they belong to. Haggis' use of selective perception in this form holds very true to everyday society and people. However, it is not something easily changed. People who watch Crash are likely to recognize that they have passed the same kind of judgment on another. Nevertheless, they are likely to continue to do so.

Selective perception doesn't only affect people in the form of determining ones race. It is even more so present when trying to determine one's character and actions. Just like making wrongful assumptions of ones race, wrongful assumptions are also made when predicting ones character based on ethnicity. A person exhibiting selective perception will choose to see a person's character based on the negative labels that have been condemned to their race, rather then looking at the



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