Friday, May 03, 2013

We are just a cliché.

To Hollywood, all Hispanic actors can play all Hispanic characters and all Mexicans are the same. Case in point: The new television show The Bridge is shooting on my street today, and yesterday I asked the neighbors what they knew about it. The lady next door told me they were shooting at their house. They are getting $2,000 a day. I asked her why her house and she told me the production designer told them their house looked like a “typical Mexican house.” I wanted to say, “Maybe typical poor people’s house” but I didn’t. Their house is falling apart, and from what I can see from a distance, it’s cluttered with tacky, cheap knick-knacks. Yet, I’m a real Mexican from Mexico and if they had come into my house they would have seen modern art and photographs on the walls and eclectic décor. No clutter or knick knacks or Virgen De Guadalupe altars or plastic covered sofas. I told her that this was LA and any house could be a typical Mexican house. She shrugged.

Hollywood isn’t telling our stories; they are just using us to decorate their warped vision of the world. The production designer probably hasn’t been to Mexico. What he knows of Mexico is what he’s seen in movies. In Hollywood, deviating from formula and type is a no-no.  That’s why Hollywood entertainment is one huge boring fucking cliché. And it’s not going to get better because now they only care about the Chinese box office.

Yes, I’m a proud Mexican and I resent having to tell people how wonderful and beautiful my country is, but that’s not the only reason it bothers me. This view of the world perpetuates Americans’ ignorant view of the world. Hollywood is aiding and abetting perception of world affairs and U.S. government involvement. This is why there’s violence and death and suffering everywhere and when it happens on US soil Americans are like, “Huh, whuut happened, dude? Like, what did we do to them? It’s so sad, bro. WHY DO THEY HATE US SO MUCH?!”

This brings me to this excellent article a friend sent me a few days ago which you should read.

10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America

I direct your attention to No.6: The Rest Of The World Is Not A Slum-Ridden Shithole Compared To Us

“As Americans, we have this naïve assumption that people all over the world are struggling and way behind us. They’re not. Sweden and South Korea have more advanced high speed internet networks. Japan has the most advanced trains and transportation systems. Norwegians make more money. The biggest and most advanced plane in the world is flown out of Singapore. The tallest buildings in the world are now in Dubai and Shanghai. Meanwhile, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.”

And guess what? Migration of Mexicans is at net zero. That means just as many go in as go out of the U.S. And you know why? Because the Mexican economy is growing and the U.S.’s is still shrinking. And guess what else? We’ll be paying $20/lb. of tomatoes any time now.

Americans need to step back and take a wider look at the world. Just the way the author of the article describes in his intro:

“You know when you move out of your parents’ house and live on your own, how you start hanging out with your friends’ families and you realize that actually, your family was a little screwed up? Stuff you always assumed was normal your entire childhood, it turns out was pretty weird and may have actually fucked you up a little bit. You know, dad thinking it was funny to wear a Santa Claus hat in his underwear every Christmas or the fact that you and your sister slept in the same bed until you were 22, or that your mother routinely cried over a bottle of wine while listening to Elton John.

The point is we don’t really get perspective on what’s close to us until we spend time away from it. Just like you didn’t realize the weird quirks and nuances of your family until you left and spent time with others, the same is true for country and culture. You often don’t see what’s messed up about your country and culture until you step outside of it.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t watch Hollywood shit because it’s shrinking your brain. Subtitle reading is good for you. Trust me.

I also asked my neighbor where else in the neighborhood they were shooting. She said down the road because it looked like a typical Mexican road. I responded, “Yeah, a typical road with the LA skyline in the background.” I bet the only reason they cast Demián Bichir, a real Mexican, it's because he was nominated for an Oscar. Otherwise, they would have resurrected Jimmy Smits from wherever he is.
Like they say in typical Mexico, que chinguen a su puta madre.