Thursday, May 27, 2010

Watch out for those zombie strippers

!su evas su pleh namdam a si poolF

So Jones and pretty much every conservative broadcaster and journalist in America has been freaking out over the upcoming Robert Rodriguez film Machete. They're insisting it's basically a green light for Mexicans to become violent toward Americans, sanctioned and funded by the state of Texas. The kerfuffle began on the sinister occult holiday Cinco de Mayo, when Rodriguez released a joke trailer for the movie (which you can watch on YouTube, if you don't mind some naughty language and violence) that gave the impression it was all about a campaign of violent retribution against anti-immigration officials. It opens with actor Danny Trebejo delivering a message directly to Arizona, days after the infamous "Papers Please" anti-immigration law was passed.
Though Rodriguez quickly assured everyone that violence against Americans isn't really the gist of the movie (which doesn't have an official trailer yet), Jones and company aren't buying it. Jones claims he received phone calls from people who had worked on the film, expressing their opinion that the film really does encourage racial division and could lead to a backlash against Hispanics. He acquired a copy of the script and found that the movie is all about a race war between disgruntled immigrant labourers and white Americans, particularly Minutemen, with many violent confrontation scenes.

Jones' primary beef is that Machete might receive funding from the Texas Film Commission, meaning Texas taxpayers could end up footing the bill for a movie they consider pro-immigration and/or racist. Also, this funding is made possible by Governor Rick Perry - a man Jones loathes.
What Jones didn't mention until yesterday is that the Texas Film Commission doesn't directly finance movie production. It just provides 5-15% tax breaks to selected projects, to encourage filming in the state. Film projects are very lucrative for any state.
Though an article at Infowars implied the funding is already in the bag, a Film Commission spokesperson says it isn't. No money has been released to Troublemaker Studios; Rodriguez's application is still pending.

Jones' second-biggest complaint is that if the movie was about white people declaring war on Mexicans, it would never receive government funding. Ignore, please, the umpteen major Hollywood films that have portrayed Hispanics as career criminals, drug pushers, gangsters, or lowlifes. Aside from J-Lo flicks and Rodriguez's movies, it's damn near impossible to find mainstream films that portray Hispanics in a favourable light - and you can't tell me that not one of these films received some government funding.
He's also annoyed that the Texas Film Commission "refused funding" for a big-budget movie about the Waco tragedy. What actually happened is that when commission director Bob Hudgins expressed concerns about the script, the production company decided to withdraw its application.
No one has complained about the Texas Film Commission's support of the Coen brothers' remake of the vigilante cowboy flick True Grit.

"In hindsight, Robert Rodriguez probably oughta thank me for giving this film so much hype, it's been in hundreds of newspapers."
(Alex Jones, May 26th News Alert)

So what is Machete about, anyway? The eponymous character is Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo), who most parents with teens will recognize as the crazy inventor Uncle Machete from the Spy Kids films. In the first film, he and Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) patch up their relationship after Machete helps his niece and nephew defeat an army of kid-bots. Believe me, folks, I know way more about this movie than I want to.

Rodriguez built the Machete character around Trejo back in the early '90s, envisioning him as the Hispanic counterpart to Charles Bronson - famous for a string of vigilante movies.

Machete's next appearance was in one of the fake trailers attached to the 2007 Rodriguez/Tarantino double feature Grindhouse, alongside other imaginary gems like Hobo With a Shotgun and Don't (which I found hilarious). Rodriguez announced at that time that Machete would be getting his own movie.
It's interesting to compare the faux Grindhouse trailer with the Machete joke trailer. It's even more interesting to study the public's reactions to the two trailers. The Grindhouse trailer, being for a non-existent movie, received no negative attention whatsoever. Not one person griped that Rodriguez was encouraging Hispanics to go out and chop up white folks. No one accused him of trying to spark a race war. No one wondered why an inventor had suddenly turned into some kind of vigilante. The same goes for the other trailers; no one worried that homeless people might take up arms and go on shooting sprees, for example.

And why would they? We're not exactly dealing with Oscar-calibre dramatic cinema, here. Rodriguez's work is a wacky blend of action and gore, painstakingly styled after B movies of the '70s (he also likes to plunder the cast of Lost for some reason, but I digress...). Like all Rodriguez films, Machete is high camp. If you're willing to believe it's an earnest attempt to mobilize Mexicans against Americans, then you should also believe that CIA agents are being abducted and transformed into characters on trippy kids' TV shows, or that your weird high school shop teacher really was an alien, or that strippers might eat your face off after sundown.

But then Jones' grasp of film is, um, tenuous. Remember his bizarre review of Watchmen, which he mistook for a New World Order propaganda piece? To make his take on the film even weirder, he somehow got it into his head that the same man who wrote From Hell was a Freemason. Then, months later, he praised V for Vendetta - same writer and some of the same themes as Watchmen, but basically a paean to religious terrorism and violence. WTF?

At any rate, all of this is moot now. Rodriguez has conceded that, yes, his joke trailer was a bit too incendiary, and Jones now says he doesn't want Rodriguez to lose his state funding (even though Austin 360 quotes him as saying, "We need to get the funding at the state level stripped out of the film commission if they do not stop this.").


TK said...

I think it comes down to Alex Jones not being that bright. He literally doesn't get stuff. But maybe that's what high levels of irrational paranoia does to your critical thinking skills. Or lack of critical thinking skills lead to paranoia. Very chicken and egg.

As kids films go, I find the spy kids ones bearable. Which is a good thing, else I would have cracked seeing them twenty times each. And husband is like a kid waiting for xmas to see the Machete film -- he loves Rodriguez's films (including Spy Kids).

S.M. Elliott said...

It is chicken/egg, isn't it? But I don't think it could've helped that a family friend exposed Jones to John Birch material at a young age. What we read in our youth can have a profound lifelong effect.

Admittedly, I'll probably like Machete. And the stepkids adored Spy Kids. For years, my stepson used some variation of "floop" as an online password, then would wonder why his sister always managed to crack it. ;D

TK said...

"But I don't think it could've helped that a family friend exposed Jones to John Birch material at a young age. What we read in our youth can have a profound lifelong effect. "

Wow, yeah. That's a terrifying world view to give to a young mind.

My little one loved spy kids, not least for contributing the subversive use of 'shitaki mushrooms' to her vocabluary.

S.M. Elliott said...

Ha! I forgot about that. "You're so full of shiitaki mushrooms." Classic.

Anonymous said...

You referenced the "paper please" bill....I call it the ID check.

Its a mild law to deal with a crime, race is never mentioned in the law....cops have to already be engaged with someone in a lawful stop/detention before they can then use reasonable suspicion to inquire into immigration status....a Arizona drivers permit satisfies the requirement.About 45-50% of the cops doing this job will be Latino...

.some say that some cops will abuse the law, but some cops abuse some laws all the time anyway, so what else is new? sb1070 addresses that too

Foreigners here have had to have their "papers" on them since about 1940....42 states require that you have your ID on you....Federal immigration law is much tougher than Arizona's, re: reasonable suspicion, Muehler v. Mena.....

Anonymous said...

The concern with the film is legit.

A Clockwork Orange did trigger threats or violence, which caused it to be pulled in Brit...'The Warriors' caused violence too....

Machete casts whites as evil, and latinos in the US as heroic, capped off by a revenge bloodbath....since illegals here are already promising violence if they dont get their way, the film can only add, if only a small amount, of log to the fire.

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