Daily Archives: September 6, 2010

Machete — The First Latino Action Hero?

“There are laws. And then there’s what is right,” says Jessica Alba in Machete, the new Roberto Rodriguez flick that hit the cinemas this past weekend amidst much controversy.

As Roberto Rodriguez movies go, Machete is intentionally over the top, edgy, sharp (no pun intended), violent, gory and certainly not easy on the eyes. It’s probably not for the likes of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer who is already paranoid about beheadings in the desert.

Earlier this year, a leaked script pointed toward a race-based war theme in the movie, supposedly vilifying whites and promoting Latino mob violence against them. Machete is not so much about race, as it is about class. The crooks are the capitalists who want to benefit from cheap Mexican labor and denigrate undocumented immigrants to win elections, and they happen to be mostly white. Sorry Roberto Rodriguez, but didn’t you get the memo that a B-grade slasher flick is only appropriate when a white guy or girl goes around killing others? See The American, Kill Bill and so many other Hollywood A-grade flicks.

Machete, played by Danny Trejo, will drive the tea baggers crazy. He is an undocumented immigrant who cannot be deported. He crossed the border; the border did not cross him. He not only steals jobs that Americans want to do but gets the hot girls that should be reserved for American citizens. And heralded as the first Latino action super-hero, he shall never die. Move over Terminator. It’s the ultimate nativist nightmare.

Of course, far scarier than Machete are the white nationalists protesting the movie with their very real machetes. A movie uprising about  undocumented Latinos is so scary.

Machete does pose interesting questions about media representation. The movie ultimately falls into the same trap of Mexploitation that it sets out to criticize. Why are Latinos only depicted as “illegal” immigrants, pregnant teenage girls and welfare mothers, criminals and gangsters in Hollywood movies, and mostly always somehow pose a threat to the dominant culture? With Machete, Rodriguez does not change this picture, even though his approach is a parody on white fear-mongering. But there is some reconciliation in the fact that he does attempt to change the dominant narrative with a successful commercial movie about Latinos with Latino actors in the lead that has crossover appeal.

There are good movies. And then there are ones that should be watched for entertainment value. Machete falls in the latter.

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Filed under Movie Reviews, Racism

Leaving Water In Desert for Undocumented Immigrants Is Legal

Even if you are against the concept of illegal immigration, arguing that it is acceptable for migrants to die of dehydration on their way to the United States requires a lot of hatred.

As part of “No More Deaths,” an organization that provides humanitarian aid to migrants, Daniel Millis placed water bottles in the desert along frequently traveled routes for immigrants unlawfully entering the United States to help reduce deaths.

Millis was given a $175 citation ticket for violating federal code 50 CFR 27.94 that prohibits “littering, disposing, or dumping in any manner of garbage” on a national wildlife refuge. He was cited at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona. Instead of paying the ticket, Millis contested it before a magistrate judge, arguing that leaving water out for undocumented immigrants constitutes humanitarian aide and that “humanitarian aide is never a crime.” In doing so, he risked a possible $5,000 fine and six months in prison.

Both the magistrate court and district court, upon appeal, found Millis guilty and upheld his conviction. But the Ninth Circuit found in favor of Millis, holding that it was unclear whether purified water in a sealed bottle intended for human consumption meets the definition of “garbage.” Under the rule of lenity, any ambiguity in the law shall be resolved in favor of the defendant, and hence, Millis had his conviction overturned.

The lone dissent on the Ninth Circuit panel came from Judge Bybee, one of the architects of the torture memo during the Bush Administration, who had no issue crafting legal fiction to justify that water could be used to drown people in a controlled setting. Alas, according to Bybee, torture is too vague a concept to justify criminal conviction, but leaving water bottles in the desert so that people don’t die of dehydration is a criminal offense.

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Filed under Immigration

Machete — The First Latino Action Hero?

“There are laws. And then there’s what is right,” says Jessica Alba in Machete, the new Roberto Rodriguez flick that hit the cinemas this past weekend amidst much controversy.

As Roberto Rodriguez movies go, Machete is intentionally over the top, edgy, sharp (no pun intended), violent, gory and certainly not easy on the eyes. It’s probably not for the likes of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer who is already paranoid about beheadings in the desert.

Earlier this year, a leaked script pointed toward a race-based war theme in the movie, supposedly vilifying whites and promoting Latino mob violence against them. Machete is not so much about race, as it is about class. The crooks are the capitalists who want to benefit from cheap Mexican labor and denigrate undocumented immigrants to win elections, and they happen to be mostly white. Sorry Roberto Rodriguez, but didn’t you get the memo that a B-grade slasher flick is only appropriate when a white guy or girl goes around killing others? See The American, Kill Bill and so many other Hollywood A-grade flicks.

Continue reading

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Filed under Immigration