Industry News

Cinco De Mayo, “300” & Racist Movies

Op/Ed by AL Blanco

Today is Cinco De Mayo, a holiday commemorating the unlikely victory of a Mexican army over a much better equipped and larger French army during the Battle of Puebla, an army which had not lost a battle in 50 years.

This holiday commemorates a real “300″, the movie in which a small Spartan army similarly defeated a large Persian army.  300 is based on real events, as in the battle, but other than that the movie is a piece of racist fluff.

In 300, the Spartan army is portrayed as brave, valiant and noble;  fathers and sons going into battle without fear.  While Leonidas is bravely fighting the Persians, his wife is at home getting raped and trying to keep Sparta together.  They are all extremely muscular, and pretty well groomed.

How are the Persians portrayed?  As eccentric, barbaric and perverse.  In the Persian lair there is monsters and homosexuality, all headed by an egomaniac and quasi homosexual leader.  Who would you rather be, the humble, brave and masculine Leonidas?  Or the androgynous, morally suspect and flaky King Xerxes.

300 is a fictional retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, which happened about 400 years before Christ.  As accurate as a story that old can be, it has many parallels to the Battle of Puebla, except the Battle of Puebla took place about 150 years ago when we actually got that historical record thing down pat.

What if the Battle of Puebla was made into a film?  I think that would be awesome, however we would never see it portrayed in such a way as 300 was done.

Picture this:  The Mexican army is a strong, family oriented unit.  They work hard at home, and are eager to defend Mexico at all costs.  Their wives are dutifully loyal to their husbands at war and strong women who raise the children all alone.  The Mexican warriors look like they are roided up, and all of their mustaches are painstakingly trimmed.

They are called to battle by a fat, hairy and smelly French army.  The French army obsesses over cigarettes and weird, freaky sex; in fact most of them don’t even know if they are gay or straight, if it’s a hole in the ground they will fuck it.  The French army has come to invade Mexico over an unpaid debt and claim the land of the sun for themselves, chain-smoking and wheezing the entire time.

That movie would never get made, but how is that different than what happened in 300.  Let me give you another example of a racist movie.

When I was a kid, I loved the Three Amigos, and it’s a funny movie.  Unfortunately there are some offensive things in that movie.  For one, the Mexicans only drink Tequila and they all have yellow teeth, even their leader the powerful and rich El Guapo.  They all always look disheveled (except the women).

All the white people in the movie are depicted as clean and with nice clothes.  The Three Amigos, the Frenchmen, the studio people.

The worst scene is at the end, when Martin Short’s character is attempting to pump up the Mexicans into defeating El Guapo’s gang.  He says they have to use something they are good at in defeating El Guapo, and he asks what they are good at.  The all look at each other in bewilderment, with a look on their face that says, “we are stupid Mexicans, we are not good at anything.”  Then one of the has an idea.  What is used to defeat El Guapo?  Their sewing skills.  Yes their biggest collective talent was sewing.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom is another racist movie and if you’ve seen it, think real hard and if you need help let me know.

On Cinco De Mayo, which is not Mexico’s independence day (which happens in Sept.), we should take time to look at issues all immigrants face around us.  The federal DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act has was introduced into Congress on March 26 by Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Harry Reid (D-NV), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), and Russel D. Feingold (D-WI), clearly a bi partisan effort of which we do not see in Washington normally.  I encourage everyone to look into the issue of tuition equity for undocumented students and how immigration reform is the new civil rights struggle of our generation.

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