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in the film Crash, it would be Officer John Ryan. When we are first introduced to Ryan, we get the impression that he is racism incarnate. He is rude, vulgar, and, worst of all, blatantly racist towards black people. Indeed, it seems highly unlikely that we could ever see Ryan in a positive light, especially after he sexually molests an innocent black woman. But when Ryan ends up saving the same woman he molested later on in the film, we as an audience are forced to change our perception of Ryan. And with our shifting perspective, we are able to see who Ryan really is: a character of hope. It is a curious statement. How could the most villainous character in the entire movie possibly end up becoming a beacon of hope for the audience? To truly understand the progression of John Ryan, we must take a closer look at his character. At first glance, Ryan seems like a typical racist, power-abusing cop of the LAPD who is determined to make life hard for black people. One could make an inference as to what Ryan’s character says about the stereotype of white cops who abuse minorities. Perhaps he is a reminder to the corruption rampant within police organizations, especially one such as the LAPD which is actually notorious for being racist and bigoted. And in the beginning of the film, Ryan supports this stereotype: he has power, and he isn’t afraid to use it. He is a testament to the systemic racism present in institutions such as the LAPD. Ryan demonstrates this when he arbitrarily pulls over an innocent black couple and proceeds to harass them in a disgusting show of police power. Of
as he is a white character who . polite white folks renounce such claims of superiority. for example. Wosnitzer) And of course one could see Ryan’s character in this light. The ideology of white supremacy is all around. and philosophy rooted in white Europe are still very much alive. Hispanic. Watch the resistance from white America when any serious attempt is made to modify school or college curricula to reflect knowledge from other areas and peoples. that white people are often perceived to be superior or “supreme” to other races. but the idea is still ever present in today’s society. the black couple is powerless against such a man and can do nothing. and African American.course. No poll can document these kinds of covert opinions. Another serious inference that is often made by critics of the film is that Officer John Ryan is an example of white supremacy in the movie. even as their civil rights are being violated. you rarely hear the words “Asian supremacy” or “black supremacy” tossed around. politics. But scratch below that surface politeness and the multicultural rhetoric of most white people. (Jensen. It is most often “white supremacy. but one hears it in the angry and defensive reaction of white America when non-white people dare to point out that whites have unearned privilege. and one finds that the assumptions about the superiority of the art. music. This inference is based purely on the fact that Ryan is white.” This goes to show that people and society in general have a stereotype about white people. such as Asian. culture. As critics Robert Jensen and Robert Wosnitzer (who denounce the movie for its white supremacism) put it: Today. Indeed. one could not say that he is an example of “Hispanic supremacy. if Ryan were instead Hispanic.” Of course whites themselves do not usually make claims to superiority.
he is sorry for being bigoted and racist. The traffic light turns green. In fact. After the event. Ryan recognizes the area and looks around until the car behind him honks at him to move on. but telling. This scene is incredibly significant because Ryan is confronted with his past actions by being reminded of what he has done when he looks at the familiar area. The scene that reflects this change in him is brief.goes around bullying black people. This is the same spot where earlier he had pulled over the black couple. We as an audience wish we could tell what Ryan is thinking. And the look he gives is one of regretful reflection. His character has been fundamentally changed by what he had experienced. He has understood the . Instead up cruising up to a stoplight. This is what we as an audience can logically conclude from this scene. Ryan cruises up to a stop light in a dark part of town. one could logically conclude that Ryan is no longer a bigot. Ryan instead cruises up to a stop sign with a lighted Christmas tree in the background. lost in his thoughts. he is remembering what he has done and he is sorry for it. John Ryan has changed into a better man. claiming Ryan supports the white supremacy in the film is to be blind to the dynamics of the character himself and be only open to the color of his skin and to the color of his victims. however. the argument that Ryan is a white supremacist character would be valid. Thus. then sure. but Ryan doesn’t notice. but actually it is quite clear. he goes through a major character reversal after he saves the black woman’s life and nearly getting killed in the process. The car behind him lays on the horn and he takes notice and pulls out Haggis 96). the scene is slightly different. But people should be wary if they do indeed judge the character and the movie in this way.” In the movie. This is how it plays out according to the original screenplay: “Back in his civilian clothes. If Ryan remained his initial bigoted self throughout the entire movie. But he isn’t a racist bigot for the entire movie. Ryan is sorry for having molested the black woman.
error of his ways.” The director has purposely left us with a positive scene with Ryan. He understands that his feelings of helplessness come from himself. that there is always redemption to be found. From the screenplay: “Looking in from outside we see Ryan. he is therefore more “real” and believable to the audience. After some difficulty he eases him down onto the toilet. Rather. hands bandaged. he is redeemed. By making Ryan such a complex and sometimes even contradictory character. This is the interpretation I drew from this crucial scene. The irony is that although he was powerful as a police officer. And Ryan kisses his forehead and holds him (Haggis 111). one that highlights his compassionate side. He understands that black people are not to blame for his helplessness. it is himself. The last scene we get to see of John Ryan is a final one of him and his father. and only himself. Whether or not the film succeeds in this depends on one’s personal opinion. We can understand how Ryan’s helplessness translates to his rage and anger. although not justified. just weeps. the film attempts to give us a sense of hope. And so. It seems that as Ryan changed. he had a soft side to him. and the only thing he can do is to keep caring for his father and trying to help him. It is only when Ryan is dealt a card by fate that he himself realizes that his anger at . No apparent reason. by showing that even someone as bigoted as Ryan could change his ways through a life-altering experience. Where his father weeps. Ryan wasn’t solely a bad guy. helping his frail and aging father into the bathroom. he has become a more compassionate individual. at black people. but for me I found Ryan to be a very moving character because of how dynamic he was. he kisses and comforts his father. Why do I say that Ryan is a character of hope? Ryan illustrates that hope is not lost in the racism issue. he was helpless in helping his father’s situation. evident by how he cared for his ailing father. Understanding this.
but through truly understanding him or her. more and more of Ryan’s story was revealed to us. he understands that he has been taking out his anger on the wrong people and has been worsening his situation rather than helping it. In fact. because he can do nothing for his father. we should truly understand people before we pass judgment. we are all human.” And likewise. John Ryan himself is an example of this. Only when Ryan’s story was complete could we accurately judge his character. I believe that the main message of Crash is that everybody has a unique story to them. and not as just as a “black person. his skin color.blacks was unwarranted. . We as an audience had formed our own opinions of Ryan at the very beginning of the film. By saving the life of the woman he molested. based on what he looked like. But we didn’t know the whole story. It was the realization that other people are not to blame that changed him and consequently changed his racist and prejudice attitude. and his actions. Ryan changed his racist thinking when he truly understood the black woman as a fellow human being when she was in danger. Because when it boils down to it. it is himself he is truly angry at. his profession. As the film went on. And the only way to know a person’s story is not through racist thinking or prejudice.
"Crash Screenplay. 2004. and Robert Wosnitzer. Web. 16 Dec. . 16 Dec. Paul. 2011." 18 Mar.Works Cited: Haggis. ""Crash" Is a White Supremacist Movie!" 18 Mar. Jensen. Robert. 2011. Web. 2004.
and so I switched to Officer Ryan because he had the greatest impact on the film I feel. I found it easy to write about the character of Officer Ryan and how he sends the audience a message about race. Revision Plans: Initially.Writer’s Memo Strengths: I feel like my strengths included a good thesis. but I found it difficult to analyze his character. They gave me lots of helpful suggestions. And so I did. I tried to create a good thesis to write about and include a lot of analysis. Weaknesses: I had some parts where I struggled with analysis. I had written about the character of Graham Waters. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate my analysis with evidence from the movie or with evidence from other sources. such as suggesting that I include more sources. Peer review: My experience with peer review was great. I tried looking for sources that would be most relevant to my thesis. . I also struggled with too much description of the character himself instead of my overall thesis.
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