Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My Son Got it Right

In a perverse way, I'm hoping that "Crash" sweeps the field at the Academy Awards ceremony. Not because it's good — quite the contrary. But I figure that turning up the spotlight on the movie's vision of Los Angeles as a simmering, racist hellbroth might finally stem the flood of Canadians and New Yorkers who keep driving up local real estate prices.—LA Times OP-Ed 2/26/06 Matt Welch

The section of a multi-segmented op-ed piece, of several movies nominated for the Academy Award this year, which points out the discrepancies between reality and Hollywood’s take, was way off the mark, if not entirely annoying in tone. Welch is L.A. Times assistant editorial page editor, which used to include in its op-ed section such a luminary as Robert Scheer, until he was fired, so maybe that says something for the angle.

But really, as a proponent of tolerance and trying to appeal to our “higher selves,” I was appalled at this particular reaction to the movie, Crash, a multi-leveled story of peoples’ foibles, prejudices, and their ultimate potential for redemption.

Instead, Welch panders to the “Bill O’Reilly” knee jerk tendencies of our base natures by swinging with flailing left-and-right punditry jabs:

Haggis wrote "Crash" after his Porsche was carjacked. A rich Hollywood progressive, he wanted to understand his attackers (in a similar act of condescension, he cast rapper Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as one of the movie's articulate black thugs because Bridges brought "authenticity, the street").

It's hard to observe street-level race relations from an opulent perch (Haggis' house was used as the district attorney's mansion in the film).

Oh come on, Welch, are you 12 years old? In this vein we would assume that Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee would have no identification with the shepherding gay men of Wisconsin in Brokeback Mountain, despite the possibility that Lee may have seen the same kind of repression and prejudice growing up in his culture in Nationalist China. Not to mention the more obvious reference of mega-multi-millionaire Steven Spielberg and his depiction of the Holocaust of Schindler’s List.

But my goal is not to tear apart Welch’s attempt at some vague humor just to fulfill his assignment as one of five elements of an op-ed Academy Award piece. Rather, I aim to shine the light on the prescience of a fine young man, a teenager with a vision of the world in its reality, and of his view of a moment of cinema as an example of high art.

That high-schooler is my son. As he and an actor-friend of ours were both enthusing about the greatness of Crash several months ago, our friend said it was too bad it won’t win the award for best picture. My son simply said, “You’ll be surprised, it will win.” And so it did.

That’s how sure he was about the meaning behind this film, because he has learned the lesson of appealing to our best natures, and of tolerance, and of not needing to be cynical to be cool.

My son’s favorite car is not a Porsche, either—it’s a Lamborghini.

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