Monday, March 12, 2018

Op-Ed: How "Gringo" (2018) exploits and mocks the kidnapped and murdered in Mexico

How "Gringo" exploits and mocks the kidnapped and murdered in Mexico

Violence gets inside you.  It whispers and calls your name, slinking and edging its way through your dreams, your private moments, your refuges.  I walk around with numbers in my head. 350 killings in Tijuana this year.  I do the math.  4 killings a day.  4 family members on average.  How many people impacted?

I run my hands over a 50 gallon blue drum. The kind that turn up with bodies stuffed inside.  It feels rough, scarred.  I wonder about those who die, those who kill, those left behind, and all who will die.  I think existentially about the killings, and I think in moments. The moments before you are tortured.  A single stylish nike trainer left outside the gym in Culiacan.  The knots tying the noose, to be wrapped around her neck.  The blood left behind after executions in a Tijuana neighborhood, staining the hard concrete, soap and hot water swirling atop the aftermath of carnage.

'Gringo', produced by Amazon Studios opened last Friday.  I have only seen the preview, which washed over me in waves of disgust and a kind of sadness.  I will say upfront I will not see this movie, but I will describe the basic outline.  A corporation in the US has patented a form of marijuana based medicine, which at some point involved doing business in Mexico, with what is referred to generically and quite inaccurately, as "The Cartel" in the preview.

Bare with me, as we proceed into the depths of the inane. The US based corporation sends a representative to Mexico, (the exact locale is not given in the preview, that I could tell) who is struggling with finances, and therefore, the movie implies desperate enough to go. He is the movie trope overeager and unlucky businessman, who will no doubt prevail, in the movies climax.

He is kidnapped for murky reasons, having to do with the marijuana patent, and the movie is about the wacky and hilarious premise of kidnapping and murder, complete with snarling and tan suited "Mexican cartel members", car chases, explosions, and plenty of automatic gunfire.  There is a possible love interest in the form of actress Amanda Seyfried.

People will sit in darkened theaters, order wine and beer, plates of food, laughing at the misadventures in Mexico, and the hilarity of brutal violence and killing.  They will smirk and grin, and walk away.  Enjoy a car chase and the sounds of AK-47's booming from the sound system.  I doubt many will love the movie, but they won't hate it's very premise the way I do.

I wonder, if the audience, or the actors, producers, directors, would participate the same, if they read ZETA Tijuana for a month? Or AFN? Or our blog, here?  Or maybe a week.  I believe 10 were killed in Tijuana yesterday.  Career opportunities! Such a fun script! We really had a lot of fun on set, they would say.  Isn't their problem.  Isn't their concern, or more accurately isn't their families, loved ones, friends, husbands kidnapped, tortured, executed in the street.

Not only that, but in typical fashion, the movie has painted a narrative that US citizens are the main targets of kidnapping in Mexico, which has never been true. The real victims are mostly unseen and unheard, disappeared in mass graves across the country, from Veracruz to Guerrero.  They find bones, families spend their last, and their lives devoted to recovering remains of those who were taken.  They sometimes find them.  Human remains in a ranch outside Tijuana.  An abanonded mine shaft in Iguala. They may appear in the streets, painted and naked, in the beds of trucks or thrown from bridges.

These are victims of kidnapping, for which there are no cute rescues or explosion filled escapes, just a grim death, and a void left in the hearts of family.  It is a reflection of who these people are, I suppose.  I won't shame their character or attack them personally, I don't know them.  I know some must be talented and smart people.  Yet, all I think is, this is what you have chosen to do with your life and time, privilege and opportunity?

Will they donate profits to organizations to provide resources to victims in Mexico?  I don't know.  Do you imagine whoever wrote the script or directed the movie has seen, up close, the kind of atrocities we have seen?  The children massacred at birthday parties in Juarez.  The 50 dismembered on Mothers Day near Monterrey in 2012.  The 26 in Boca Del Rio in 2011.  And those are the headlines off the top of my head.  The endless killings and abductions, that happen everyday. That are happening right now.

No doubt they vacation in Jalisco, they all do, though they may not know the state.  Tan in Punta Mita and Puerto Vallerta, not far from where 15 men were murdered in one day, over the weekend, in a brutal war for plazas of insurgents and dominant power.   It doesn't bother me to make movies based on the sprawling drug wars in Mexico.  The violence, the blood, the depravity, convoys of sicarios, executions and running gun fights.  There are many stories to tell, and many that have never been told. They deserve to be.  What they don't deserve, is to be used as a punchline, a laugh track, a cheap trick, in an empty, soulless movie.


-J

47 comments:

  1. Why doesn't Guillermo Del Toro, winner of several Oscars about an "allegory of 60's USA," direct a real profound film about modern Mexico????

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    1. What you are talking about is sicario.The 2part will be coming soon.

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    2. @ 4:40 p.m. "Sicario" sucked big time. Full of cliches and gringos.

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    3. Fuck Guillermo del Toro and the sicario movie. All it shows is Mexican people being killed by this fool like in the old Clint Eastwood movies. No fuckin American dies. As if Mexicans are wortb shit and only die is what they try and portray in films like these here and this mockery.

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    4. @9:18! Did you watch the movie?! It shows how the US government chooses their allies even within organized cartels in Mexico! You Dumb!

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    5. A true display and documentary of the reality of what’s transpiring in Mexico world be ideal.
      Many of us are only aware of what’s transpiring on news media sources. Like B.B.
      Grasping only a fraction of the human suffering and violence.
      The documentary series; The Trade gave an in-depth knowledge of different sides / views (America, Mexico) of an epidemic that has intertwined us .
      Suggest watching . More of your appeal.

      E42



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    6. Todo por andar de calientes.

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    7. Sicario is by far the best movie about what is going on, it's not perfect by far, but it is the most realistic.. I guess you have not seen it?? I have watched a shit ton of the really bad ones made in Mexico by the cartels on youtube and Sicario blows those the fuck out of the water, those are horrible (For the most part).

      All things considered this is a hollywood movie that no one will really see, and only one single there in my town of 750k serves food, it's not as bad as this post makes it seem. I love BLB, for years, one of the best sites on the net but this article is a little jaded. I have never even heard of this movie till now but I know about the real horrors of Mexico daily. I get the point though, the movie is not going to be realistic and maybe even glamorize stupid shit but hey... thats films for you, works of fiction not to be taken seriously .

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    8. To the “no American dies” comment... uhh, the naive little American girl who was going to change the world in the movie gets her world turned upside down and inside out in the movie... what the hell are you talking about, sicario was the shit son

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  2. Well said J. Well said...

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  3. j . not to be a culero pero que esperas de los gringos carnal..look ever since I had recollection of how this shit Yankee system works is actually very simple and disgusting. They manage to make money of others nations misery. I'm not going to get into detail because I would be here all night. Vietnam iraq Nicaragua Afghanistan Mexico el Salvador all victims of either war on terror communist or drugs. And at the end the American citizen's don't give a shit about anyone , they are narcissists. I'm an American and I'm guilty of wanting cheap gas drugs food and manual labor from homedepo parking lot illegals and to be entertain by any means necessary. America is the modern day Roman empire. We take what we want when we need it. Mexico just happens to be a neighbor to a green eye devil..because green is the color of the American dollars.

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    1. Leave then? Lol complains about America but lives here, you’re lucky people like my little bro and many young soldiers risk their life for people like you to be allowed to complain. You’re welcome

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    2. Your funny . Mexico is what it is because of Mexicos own problems you can blame who ever you want but nothing will ever change until the good people of Mexico put their foot down and make the changes that need to be made . America has its problems to but at least we rise up when we need to , and rarely will the average american blame another country for our problems . It's a waste of time and nobody really gives a shit what we think ... Deal with it or cry about it .

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    3. Amen, Gringo........more like “ we take what we want “ when we WANT it.
      Great Op Ed J
      I hope you just discouraged more than a few to not waste their time or money on crap like this. Too bad so many actually like unrealistic crap or don’t know the difference.

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    4. At 1:32 please tell me how the following fits into your views. American citizens donate more than a null body else (both as a total and relative to GDP) and the federal government gives more foreign aid than anyone else. I could go on with more of your views bit I'll start here.

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    5. 1:32 you my friend are correct. Esa gente es el mismo diablo

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    6. @942am. I'm 132am.think about it. We as Americans as a nation a super power on world issues are the cause the root the precursor on proxy wars and conflicts. Iraq oil. Vietnam political control over communist China. Even with American the dollar we create turmoil.Any war we fight or conflict we get involved is because we want something "oil or political is like a chess game " the average American like me an you are simple "tax cash cows" work and pay taxes go to yhe mall have kids watch MTV buy the lates fashion drive the newest car get a bunch of cool tattoos on your arms with coy fish or whatever is popular.when it comes to our armies we have young Americans- soldiers of fortune that we send over seas to fight wars drawn in congress to please the business corporations that lobby heavily with money in congress marines are "Roman centurions" nothing less or nothing more. They get brain washed at home that they are fighting for their country and their families.armed forces are given financial crumbs in forms of benefits "gi bill health care and so on" mainly attracts young poor Americans to go fight for a chance to break the frustration they face in their communities or neighborhoods. We have poor whites blacks Latinos even Asians. Is like a perfect state system of tit for tat. Plant the seed of inequality and we harvest desperate frustrated young Americans willing to go fight proxy wars. With superbowl commercials for the marines "the best the strongest the marines" and the army "be a you can be" don't get me started on drug use. Is created by the way we program Americans socially by breaking down the family values by forcing them to work none stop to achieve the American dream of material stuff and the way we worked them. "Americans" 60 hours plus every week just to survive is all an illusion getting deeper on debt just to compete with the Jones..is a rat race..✋ read some books

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    7. One of the many great things about the US is you are free to leave at any time. Go somewhere else if you don't like it here.

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    8. And Mexico doesn't put the dollar first? That's what BB is ALL about.

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    9. @6:49 your little bro is just fighting rich old white mans wars for their own inteest he is a pawn. We havent had our freedom threatened in a long time

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  4. Hilarious premise? There is nothing hilarious about the war on drugs. Synthetic or not. Marijuana or not. Legal or not. It's a mind controlling substance. Thanks for such an excellent read J! Such a huge fan of ur writing style :)

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  5. What are the chances of this review appearing in a MSM newspaper... I wonder why anyone would enjoy a movie like this, the 2 hours spent watching it would be gone forever.

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  6. Mexican cinema should film a movie about white drug users dying of overdoses also. Also shooting schools up also while they are at it! A comwdy as well.

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  7. Rottentomatoes rated it a bond. 42% audience liked

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  8. Huh,you are making no sense whatsoever . Why would they donate money to families that got kidnapped? Di you think Mexican producers that made narco films in the 70 s ,80s,90,present gave any money? The fact if the matter is that Mexico has become a failed country .Why dont you write about Carlos Slim? What is he doing to help the county? Opening museums is not helping families dying of hunger and violence .I'm not defending the movie,mist likely it will be a flop,but this article is biased towards American Corporations.

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  9. It's funny you can condemn a movie based solely on the movie trailer without actually watching the film.

    I'm thinking a little kidnapping murder entertainment would be nice for a change. Kidnapping and Murder are now part of the Mexican culture. Life imitates art.

    I'm looking forward to watching Sicario 2. The first Sicario was awesome.

    As a US citizen I can't differentiate between entertainment and fact so I group all cartel films as documentaries..

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  10. Am I detecting racial tones ? How would you like the story to go ? The Badest operators in the world come to extract a drug lord for extradition and the Aztecas kill them all and free him ? So far nobody has been able to uses force successfully against the US government . Aint that why they all tread lighter on this side of the border ? I liked the movie !!!

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    1. @4:01

      "So far nobody has been able to use force successfully against the US govt."

      Vietnam
      Beirut
      Khobar Towers
      Twin Towers 93
      Nairobi
      OKC
      Ft. Hood
      Benghazi
      USS Cole

      Just a few that OUR gov't couldn't hide.

      Definition: "Nobody" means not a single person, or not a single member of a particular group or set.

      Try explaining your inept statement to the family members of the victims and survivors.

      Maybe this time my comment won't get censored- I mean "moderated"; for providing factual information.

      It doesn't hurt to turn off the tube and read about this country's history before spewing off at the mouth.

      Knowledge is power.


      El Ocho

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    2. EL OCHO is the size of yoUR IQ.
      Attacks don't mean success!

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    3. El Ocho . You don't have to answer . I can tell how get on your rant , you must be a refer addict . I like they way you got on that play with words and took the post and turned it to mean literally word for word. Sure any one can attack and Americans and kill them but there will always and always has been dire consequences . I would say the former Empire of Japan probably killed more Americans than any foreign power in history . How did that go for them ? Get the point yet ?

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    1. Correction:
      "...panties in a bunch..."
      Not bundle.

      Not sure what "reality" you're citing, smart guy, but maybe you too should open up a history book every now and then. Look up Zoot Suit Riots, Mexican Repatriation, Anti-hispanic hate crime statistics, etc.
      And in case you're too lazy to do your research, here's what your beloved FBI had to say in their 2016 hate crimes report, don't take my word for it, I'm a Mexican American afterall:

      As has long been true, hate crimes based on race were by far the biggest category, with more than half of reported hate crime incidents motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry. Among those, nearly half were anti-black crimes, and nearly 10 percent were anti-Latino. About one in five were anti-white, although white people were still much less likely, when accounting for total population, to suffer a hate crime than minority groups.

      I believe it's you sir, who needs to heed your own advice and politely stfu.

      Knowledge is power

      El Ocho

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    2. 5:35 the ignorant hold on to their panties in their hands
      While they get raped, and can't say why.
      War movies are propaganda and little else

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    3. Knowledge is power??? Yet you won't check the facts. And it's bundle unless you are a millennial crybaby. Mammas home, did you clean the house ???

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  12. Nice work J. We really appreciate your thoughts.

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    1. @8:41. Good to hear from you Kid.

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    2. Thank dd, I'm having a really horrible start to 2018.

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  13. I watched this movie saturday i did go in thinking the same as you. American pop culture brainwashing the dumb masses with this whole cartel war bullshit. Just gives them more material for action movies while the people are thinking mexico is all about killings.
    I didnt really like the movie it had its funny parts and the narcos were a bit medicore. I knew it wasnt going to be accurate or good but just went for the hell of it lol

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  14. Looks like a wannabe pineapple express....

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  15. My dear Mexico you are so far from God and so near the Greencoats that have no culture , the day that Mexico gets near god and prays and really look deep of how sickening their minds are .....

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    1. Mexico is awesome homie I don’t know what you’re taking about.

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  16. Ja a stupid movie by the US and yet we love the cartel shows on Spanish tv. Blame alwzys others and not us.This is always the problem.

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  17. Yep . All the "good people" of town are keeping their heads down in fear . Just like all the Mexican criminal movies produced in Hollywood for over 60 years . Subtract the bad ass gringo from the scene and shit , that's the way it is in many of those little out the away towns just across the border . Hollywood has depicted the Mexican people occupied and lorded over by criminal always . Can you think of those circumstances being real ?

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  18. Ok void all my posts . I watched El Gringo on amazon . It aint the same show . Why don't these people see if they can give a film a distinct name that will distinguished them from a dozen other films with the same name ?

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  19. Thanks J! Been reading bb since 2012. My friends and family are clueless as to what happens in Mexico! The average American Joey has no clue as to what kind of impact violence has on Mexican citizens on a daily basis!

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