Dear Mexican: Why is there, in every Mexican family, a jealous cousin driven by insecurity?
Must Excuse Vulgar-Ass Lingual Expression
Dear ME VALE: Take your pick. It’s because a) Your dad unwittingly insulted his or her dad back in the rancho when they were boys, and your cousin was taught to hate you as a result; b) Your mom unwittingly insulted his or her mom back in the rancho when they were girls, and your cousin was taught to hate you as a result; c) Your tío or tía insulted his or her aunt or uncle back in the rancho when they were children, and your cousin was taught to hate you as a result, d) Your abuelitos hated on his or her grandparents back in the rancho when they were young adults, and your cousin was taught to hate you as a result; or e) You unwittingly insulted your cousin at some point in his or her life, and he or she has hated you ever since, even though ustedes grew up the best of friends.
Point is, nearly all primo rivalries aren’t based in any concrete reason; instead, they’re due to a bunch of rancho gossip that rears its pathetic head at every funeral, when you see dozens of adults related by blood, standing as far away from each other as possible, and teaching their kids to do the same.
I am a Mexican who has been raised in New Zealand, miles away from the homeland. My father was a Mexican, and my mother is a New Zealander (Kiwi). Every time I hear there is a Mexican movie on TV or in a local film festival, I am excited to see it, as I am very curious and want to understand my culture better than I currently do. After watching the movie, however, I am left extremely depressed, as ALL of the movies I have seen revolve around the same themes: poverty, greed, gang violence, violent rape, illegal immigration, rancid corruption, etc.
Jesus Christ, does Mexico not have any nice stories to tell? Are these themes the only core elements of the culture? I dream of returning to Mexico to live there with my small family one day for a few years, but, wow, these movies really put me off.
Please help me. I really want to be proud of my Mexican heritage, but I’m struggling…
All Blacks and All Browns
Dear Mexi-Kiwi: The sexycomedia genre has obviously not reached the Land Under Down Under. But for all media-related preguntas, the Mexican turns to William Nericcio, English professor at San Diego State University, author of the scabrous Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America, and the man behind the traveling desmadre show known as Mextasy, a caravan of racist Mexican images; go to mextasy.blogspot.comfor more information.
Shameless plugs aside, on to Nericcio’s response: “I love these kinds of questions. Imagine a half-Russian, half-American living in Moscow lamenting that all he sees of Americans is Red Dawn, Dr. Strangelove and Rambo, and getting really, really depressed that all he ever sees of himself is loutish, loudmouthed, meat-brained ’Merican Neanderthals.
“Anyone, of any race, of any ethnicity, of any species (ask Flipper and the Taco Bell perrito) will think poorly of themselves if they look to Hollywood for existential sustenance. As I write in Tex[t]-Mex, show business is NOT into ethnography nor cultural anthropology. You are as likely to see a great Mexican in a Hollywood blockbuster as you would a Tea Party-produced YouTube video touting immigration reform.
“That said, there is a good short list of films by Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu online and at your local video shop that should restore your faith in Mexicans on film. Oh, and Salma Hayek—her semiotic figurations will restore anything!”
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!