Two of the greatest stories told about the city of Los Angeles come from different art forms, but both tell just as equally thought-provoking tales. Twilight: Los Angeles, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith, is a one woman play that recalls several interviews of LA community members that talk about their experiences during the 1992 Rodney King trial verdict. Crash, directed by Paul Haggis, is a story about racial tensions amongst citizens of Los Angeles. Although both stories tackle similar issues, they differ in terms of critical race theory, feminist views, and their narrative structures.
One of the main topics of both stories involves racial tension within a community, focusing specifically on the tension between white and black Americans. Many of the people that Anna Smith interviewed had something to say about the race of Rodney King or how the white cops controlled the power of the city. With racial tensions boiling in the ghettos of Los Angeles between the white policemen and the black communities, violence became all too common in the community. By the 2000’s, the time setting for Crash, violence from the police became less prominent, but still evident.
Every character in Crash had some sort of prejudice against another race in the city, including the white woman afraid of the minority man, the black couple afraid of the white cops, and the Middle Eastern man stereotyping the Hispanic man. Both Twilight: LA and Crash focus on race more than any other topic and neither would be such a deep story without this main theme.
Another similarity in their themes of race and critical race theory happen to be which perspectives they include. Crash is a story that involves many different races and has the plot revolve every character’s views on the other characters. Twilight: LA is also a story that takes raw dialogue from characters of different races and compares them one after another. All ethnicities and how they feel about the situation are covered and the biased is kept to a minimum. Twilight: LA does focus more on the minority opinion of the verdict and a little less on the police or white side.
One theme that Crash analyzes more than Twilight though is the power struggle between men and women. Smith focuses more on the racial tension amongst the community whereas Haggis touches on a few feminist issues. It could be argued that because Smith decided to perform the play and all the characters within it, she could be making a feminist decision by excluding men, but it isn’t a very plausible argument. The female characters in Crash though can easily be placed in an argument about power between the sexes in film.
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