Eh, gringo. I gonna kill you. This would seem to be the central message of Machete.
Stephen Holden, writing in the New York Times, noticed that the White men in Machete are portrayed in one of two ways: as either sadistic vigilantes murdering pregnant women in the desert (kinda like the Israelis) or as venal, corrupt politicians murdering each other out of pique or just out of habit. Even so, this reviewer decided that the movie wasn’t really racist because it is so over the top it can’t be taken seriously. I wonder what he would say if the roles were reversed and a White American hero was leading the slaughter of the invading army of Mexicans while the Mexican women were swooning all over him?
The Mexicans are uniformly depicted as hard-working, well organized, intelligent and deeply supportive of their oppressed community. The two leaders are young women — slim, sexy in painted on jeans and oh so sharp. Mind you, these Mexicans are not only way past all that macho thing; they are positively cool.
Still maybe there is a little bit of macho in Machete. Our handsome hero not only gets the girl, he gets all the girls, including the daughter and wife of the evil minded huckster who set him up. And of course, being part of the corrupt venal culture of the Americans, they are shallow and self-absorbed.
Lindsey Lohan, plays herself as April, the daughter, a fall-down drunk and druggie. Dad has to shoot all the innocent Mexican mules to rescue her from one of her favorite hangouts, the safe house where they stash the dope being brought over the border. She promotes her modeling career by taking nude pictures of herself and posting them on the Net. She and June, her Mom, while filming themselves naked in the pool, invite the gardener — Machete —to join them. He obliges.
Gringo gets killed with machete, AK-47 and Rambo knife. He gets sliced and diced as Machete leaps out of the window swinging on his intestines like Zorro. And of course, the heroic Mexican liberator screws the slutty women, too.
The caricature of a viciously racist, anti-immigrant politician is reduced to a cartoon by Robert De Niro who repeatedly refers to the Mexicans as parasites. His venal, corrupt advisor/campaign manager hires our hero, Machete, to shoot the De Niro character, get the pity vote and so guarantee a landslide win.
Now the Senator trying to get re-elected is named McLaughlin, sounds like McCain, and being an evil-minded cruel White man, campaigns on an anti-immigrant platform, unlike the real McCoy, John McCain, who supported amnesty for illegals until it became impolitic to do so.
And then, of course, those evil White men blame the poor little Mexican guest worker, who introduces himself to the audience by murdering, was it eight or ten, or maybe it was fifteen guys with his machete? Machete could be in the running for the most blood soaked first 3 minutes of any movie.
But it’s OK because he is murdering the henchmen of the evil drug lord, Steven Seagal, who is the only Mexican in the movie who is a bad guy, and why? Because he is in deep with the American politicians. Their secret plan is to build a fence, and keep the mules — his competition in the drug racket — out of the US, and hence keep the price of drugs high. This cruel plan will prevent the innocent, hard-working Mexican drug dealers from earning an honest buck. And isn’t that what America is all about?
And in a desperate attempt to keep the plot moving, the campaign manager confesses his sins to a Mexican padre, which is a little odd as the priest is a member of the enemy camp. Keeps an arsenal in the sacristy as a matter of fact; and padre is brother to Machete, too. And what does he confess? Everything, including wanting to sleep with his daughter. Shootin’ the boss and screwin’ the kid. It’s just another day in suburbia. Whatever. And of course, padre keeps a CD record of those confessions, which wind up on the local news.
And She is running the revolution, not some macho love ’em and leave ’em Latino lover boy. No sirree, chico. And who is she? She is the voice of the people. She also has an arsenal in a garage. And She shoots from the hip, or should I say, from the low slung, hip-hugging, jeans plus black bikini top She wears to combat. As a matter of fact, She launches rocket missiles from her hip huggers.
I don’t know. I think I might have worn a bullet proof vest, or maybe even a sweat shirt. I mean it is combat, chica. I wonder if they make bullet proof bikini tops? And what colors do they come in? OK, I’m straying.
But She and Machete, do lead the undocumented community to make mincemeat out of the White vigilantes. Yes, mincemeat. And why? Well, because they’re rednecks, man, and everybody knows, that not only are they evil incarnate, they are totally uncool. And man, they, like totally suck. And in today’s world that is a far greater crime.
And the Mexicans win because they outnumber us. So keep that in mind. Yes, that point is underscored in the dialogue.
But they will keep coming. Does kind of make you wonder why? Why do they risk life
and limb to come to this horrible racist country to work at McDonalds?
And in today’s twist on an old plot, the invading army crossing the border illegally feels perfectly justified in mass murdering the locals. Why? Because the welfare check didn’t arrive on time? Because the housing supplement isn’t big enough? Because they can’t afford a decent piece on $8 an hour McJob? And the locals, the ones losing their jobs to these people, are portrayed as the bad guys.
One fascinating visual is that of the padre being nailed to the cross by the Senator’s advisor in his church. Is Hollywood really resurrecting the Catholic Church?
You have to laugh. After decades of denigrating the Catholic Church in every possible way, Hollywood now shows us a Catholic priest, who for starters, isn’t a pedophile. Instead he is a “Christ figure” and why? Because he is sacrificing himself for his people. The message is that if the Church supports illegal immigration as a form of “social justice,” it will be forgiven its sins by the Hollywood priesthood.
In South America the church was traditionally seen as part of the aristocracy. Then came liberation theology. But this is something else again. The church here is not supporting the poor in Central and South America. It is seen violently supporting illegal immigration by heavily armed gangs of thugs.
The final frame says Machete will be back. And he’ll be killing. And killing some more. Looking forward to that.
No, it is not surprising that White men are depicted as spasmodically hateful people that will do anything to hurt someone of another race just for the sheer pleasure of it. American politicians are played as venal and corrupt beyond all reason. And White women are represented as mindless sluts. No surprises there. What is surprising is that no matter how blatantly Hollywood churns out their hatred of White America, nobody is willing to stand up to it.
Stephen Holden is a case in point. He hems and haws, rationalizes, and finally seems to miss it altogether. The very thought of questioning this hatefest is somehow beyond the pale.
On the plus side, Machete only lasted two weeks at my Cineplex.
Penelope Thornton (email her) is a freelance writer and a serious student of the media and its games.