Crash and the Coasts

Blogger Anthony Kaufman makes an astute observation about the divided critical reaction to Paul Haggis’ Oscar-nominated Crash:

“According to the top-ten lists available, not a single critic who resides in New York or Los Angeles placed Crash in their top five. ... So the vast majority of Crash fans come from everywhere in between.”
Kaufman concludes that this is a function of the movie being simple and unsophisticated:

“It means that it’s mainstream; it means that it plays to the middle.”

This argument essentially claims that only the highly superior Coastal People know good art when they see it; Midwestern critics are stoopid and gullible.

While I don’t buy that conclusion, I find the pattern intriguing and significant. What does it mean? I’m not sure.

I’d guess it has something to do with the level of cynicism and detachment among New York and L.A. critics. A movie as earnest as Crash makes these jaded folks suspicious and uneasy, and because they’re afraid to submit to it, they sneer at it instead.

I’m not suggesting that Crash is a great (or even good) movie. I simply mean that critics who eat and sleep movies and film culture, who spend weeks each year buried in festivals, have built impenetrable defense systems against naked sincerity. Crash never had a chance.

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