-By Warner Todd Huston
The new film Machete is born of a joke. No, really. In 2006 when Quentin Tarantino was gearing up for his double feature movie experience Grindhouse, he solicited other directors and even the fans to make fake trailers for bad 70’s exploitation moves. These trailers were shown between the two features in a takeoff of the coming attractions shown between movie features in those old 70s era B-picture film houses Tarantino was spoofing with Grindhouse. Machete was one of these over the top, fake movie trailers and it featured the catch phrase, “This time they f**ked with the wrong Mexican.” It got such a rousing reception from Tarantino’s fans that he and director and partner Robert Rodriguez thought it would make a great sendup film of its own.
But the joke has soured. In this film white America is the enemy and the United States is an oppressive force. It gets so extreme that in one scene a pair of white men shoot to death a pregnant Mexican woman merely so that her baby won’t be born in the USA. The pair then cruelly say, “Welcome to America,” to the dead woman’s Mexican husband.
That is some pretty harsh stuff. Sometimes Hollywood doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. As a two-minute fake trailer in context with the Grindhouse experience it was funny. I attended the full Grindhosue movie experience and had a great, laugh-a-minute time. Unfortunately, Machete is now a full movie of its own, one that is polarizing people instead of entertaining them like the original, fake trailer was able to do.
The timing of this film couldn’t be worse. Machete arrives in theaters just as tensions between Americans and the illegal aliens, most from Mexico, are at their highest. This film depicts Mexicans as militant, self-righteous, hateful, anti-Americans out to selfishly grab whatever it is they think they deserve from those evil, white, Americans they hate so much. This movie is made to attack whites, undermine American laws and sovereignty, and push Mexican nationals to an obdurate disdain for America.
Some may scoff at this claim saying that it is all supposed to be funny, a paean to the Blacksploitation movies of the 70s that played to black pride and sticking it to “the man” — meaning whites. Lighten up, they’ll say.
But there is a major difference between the Blacksploitation movies of the 70s and Machete. Those horribly acted, badly produced films of the 70s that Machete is trying to spoof (just with a Latin flair) were not released with million dollar ad campaigns supporting them. Nor did they ever appear in all that many theaters at any given time, quite unlike what will happen with Machete. Blaksploitation movies were never as culturally explosive as this film could be. In fact, those 70s films weren’t expecting ever to get such a wide release that real race troubles could result.
It is patently obvious that director Robert Rodriguez intends this film to give succor to militant Mexican nationalism to the denigration of the USA, too. Proof of that is in the introduction he hastily added to his tralier just prior to Cinco de Mayo this year. At the beginning of his ad for the film, Rodriquez added a segment from the star of the film, Danny Trejo, depicting the lead character menacingly giving Arizona a message.
“This is Machete with a special Cinco de Mayo message…” the gravely voiced character actor begins. “To Arizona!,” he says ending with a grimace. Clearly the message is that “Machete” is coming for Arizona and is out to start a race war.
The film’s star, though, counters the anti-whites message in his pre-release comments. He says that Mexicans themselves come in for ribbing right along side the white folks so the film offers a tit for tat that shouldn’t make anyone mad. As The Hollywood Reporter writes:
“I think Arizona is going to like this movie,” said the man who is Machete. “It doesn’t just deal with the guy who comes over the border to support his family; it deals with the corruption on both sides — the drug dealers, the guys who are getting paid to bring people here and the politicians who, any time they need a good platform, choose immigration. So the feds may now really do something.”
In an effort to support the actor’s assessment, the Hollywood Reporter goes on…
At the same time, the movie has fun with cultural cliches attached to Chicano culture. Characters make verbal references to pinatas, cucarachas, papers, deportation and burritos. A fight played for laughs includes Machete wielding a weedwhacker, hedge clippers and other gardening tools. An underground network for illegal immigrants is headquartered in a taco truck.
This is thin gruel as an excuse, though. While the Mexicans in this film are lambasted with the hi-jinx of jokes about taco trucks and lawn care tools, whites are given no such lighthearted treatment. In this film whites are murderers, rapists, exploiters, oppressors, and politically corrupt. If only they were having fun with lawn tools!
This hatred for whites also rings quite hollow in this day and age. As Director Rodriquez tries to paint all whites as evil wrongdoers, real Mexican citizens in Mexico itself are being murdered by the thousands by real life drug cartel kingpins. Also immigrants from further south are being kidnapped, held for ransom, raped, and murdered by the thousands by Mexican nationals eager to exploit them for quick cash and cruel fun. Yet as these truly evil things are being done on a daily basis by Mexicans to Mexicans and to other Hispanics, Rodriguez tries to paint white people as the monsters.
Any clear thinking person can understand that holding a Tea Party sign that might seem unwelcoming to illegal immigrants is hardly in the same class as the kidnapping, rape, and murders that are being perpetrated against Hispanics in Mexico every single day!
It is a cynical game Rodriquez plays and he may be awarded federal funds to do it!
In any other era we might be more disposed to taking the buckets-o-blood, Mexpolitation nature of this film as just good, over the top, fun. But in this racial and historical climate, the film is bound to bring despair instead of enjoyment.