The Social Worker Role in the Film "Crash" | Free Essay Example

The Social Worker Role in the Film “Crash”

Words: 1018
Topic: Art & Design


‘Crash’ is a 2004 released film that traces the lives of various characters in different professions over two days as they struggle with racial tensions, dysfunctional family relationships, and work-related ethnic and racial confrontations. The lives and experiences of many of these characters are intertwined and they encounter each other at different levels of professional and personal engagements (Villalba & Redmond, 2008, p.264). The film deals with many social and multicultural differences and the characters are drawn from various ethnic and racial backgrounds including White, African American, Latino, Asian American, Persian, and Chinese.

Multicultural societies are fertile grounds for breeding ethnic and racial tensions. According to Marsh, Social workers – to acquire cultural competence – will have to be lifetime learners of multiculturalism and draw experiences from a multicultural society as long as they are in the profession of Social Work (2004, p.5). The general socio-economical context and setting of the film “Crash” offers a variety of areas for intervention by a Social Worker. The role of a Social Worker in the film “Crash” will cover three areas of practice; Case Management, Counseling, and Human Service Assistants.

These interventionist solutions are informed by the revelation in the film that some of the characters portrayed committing acts of discrimination and racism are not necessarily racist, and the pressure from their dysfunctional families, work-related stress, and other such triggers are what drive these characters to commit the racist and discriminative acts. This happens is because many of the characters who commit these racist acts eventually redeem themselves as the film progresses, or towards the end of the film.

For instance, John Ryan, the White police officer who sexually molests Christine Thayer, an Afro-American professional woman by suggestively touching her in the pretext of conducting a body search, redeems himself later by risking his life to save Christine from imminent death. Antony, a car thief, redeems himself by refusing to take money to sell illegal immigrants he bumps into, showing his high regard for humans irrespective of their racial background. This revelation, therefore, dictates that the role of a social worker in the film “Crash” be that of intervention to pre-empt the ‘explosion’ of tensions that lead to racist and discriminative acts by the characters.

Case Management Role

Some characters in the film can benefit from the Case Management role of Social Workers. Graham Waters’ mother is mentally ill. The woman has been left alone in an apartment that is shown to be without food as her sons busy themselves with work-related engagements (Graham) and other social pursuits (Peter). The strain of looking after their mentally ill mother plays a role in the stress that the sons are undergoing – leading to their unwitting involvement in various confrontational situations that eventually claims the life of the younger son Peter.

A social worker’s role here would be to ensure the mother is admitted at a relevant mental facility for treatment and therapy, relieving the sons’ the burden of taking care of her yet they have no professional expertise to do so. John Ryan’s father also needs to be hospitalized because he appears to be mentally unsound. A social worker’s task here would be similar to that done for Graham and Peter’s mother.

Counseling Role

Many characters in the film can benefit from the counseling services of a social worker. Counseling will help the characters manage their stress better and thus avoid unnecessary escalation of situations they find themselves in (which occurs due to the stress they are undergoing). Cameron and Christine Thayer’s marriage is plagued with arguments and fights, and they are headed for divorce if no intervention is made. This couple can benefit from counseling services to rescue their marriage.

John Ryan, a capable and competent police officer, is also prone to racial insults, self-destructive acts due to the stress of watching his father’s mental and physical health deteriorate, and yet he feels unable to help his ailing father whom he loves and respects. Counseling services for Ryan would help him to cope with the stress of living with a sick father, and thus reduce his proclivity towards being racially abusive due to the stress emanating from the home. Farhad, a Persian shop owner trying to buy a gun but denied the same by a racist gun-shop owner, is portrayed as easily angered and highly belligerent. Due to real and perceived threats, he nearly commits murder, almost killing an innocent man. Farhad can benefit from anger management classes and counseling organized by a Social Worker.

Human Services Assistance Role

The Human Services Assistance role of a social worker will be of benefit to various characters in the film. The first and most eminent case is that of Ryan’s father who needs his medical conditioned examined and referred to a relevant facility so that he may receive specialized care as opposed to the threadbare and unprofessional medical attention he is receiving from his son at home. A Social worker will ensure that the father’s case receives the attention it deserves from the relevant body, a task that a Social Worker can perform better than Ryan does.

A Social Worker can also handle the complaint against the insurance company that refuses to cover the medical costs of the father’s healthcare. Peter, who is unemployed, can also benefit from intervention from a Social Worker to ensure he gets the registers to the relevant Unemployment Bureaus and gets social welfare assistance. This will reduce his economic burdens. These interventionist roles by a Social Worker will ensure the levels of stress in the characters are reduced, and thus eliminate the chances of characters acting out of anger and mental strain, as they have been shown to do throughout the film.


The approach for solving the various societal ills like racism, stereotyping, discrimination, and sexual harassment portrayed in “Crash”, is an interventionist approach. These interventionist roles by a Social Worker will ensure the levels of stress in the characters are reduced, and thus eliminate the chances of characters acting out of anger and mental strain, as they have been shown to do throughout the film.


Marsh, C. (2004). Social Work in a multicultural Society. Social Work, 49(1), 5-6.

Villalba, J. A., & Redmond, R. E. (2008). Crash: Using a popular film as an experiential learning activity in a multicultural counseling course. Counselor Education & Supervision, 47(4), 264-276.