For more than 25 years Susan Granger has been an on-air television and radio commentator and entertainment critic. Her commentaries, reviews and interviews are distributed around the world by SSG Syndicate. I can appreciate some of her commentaries but her criticism of Robert Rodriguez’s new Machete Kills movie seems to be a bit out of touch and out of date.
Even though Granger considers Rodriguez’s movies “cheesy” in his collaboration with Danny Trejo, I’m not sure the critic understands there is a want for these types of movies out there. It is evident other cheesy movies did fairly well with regard to movies featuring Jack Black in Nacho Libre and Napoleon Dynamite. More importantly, visionary filmmakers will be astute to the fastest growing Mexican American / Latino demographic in our Nation with Hispanic buying power nationwide of at least $1 trillion, larger than the economies of all but 14 countries in the world. (2010 DATOS/Selig/U.S. Census)
Global box office grew to a record $34.7 billion in 2012, with domestic totals reaching a benchmark $10.8 billion, according to the annual theatrical statistics report released on March 21, 2013, by the Motion Picture Association of America. According to Andrew Stewart:
“A steady four-year decline in teen attendance per capita is reason for concern, but that was offset by a surge in attendance from Hispanics and moviegoers aged 40-49, noted MPAA chief Chris Dodd and John Fithian, prexy and CEO of the National Assn. of Theater Owners. … Fithian described the occurrence as a “good news-bad news” scenario offset by all-around growth among Hispanic audiences. While the average U.S. moviegoer goes to the multiplex 4.1 times per year, the average for Hispanic auds is 6.4 times per year. And Hispanics currently buy a quarter of all tickets sold in the U.S., continuing a strong upward trend.”
Is Rodriguez tapping into international Spanish speaking markets around the globe? You better believe it, and what better way is there when you have cheesy comedy movies with the memorable one-liners? Today I still hear Mexican American Chicanos quoting Jack Black one-liners from the whimsical comedy Nacho Libre.
According to CNN, Charlie Sheen has dropped his stage name for birth name Carlos Estevez for Robert Rodriguez’s Mexican American film when he played President Rathcock. One of the funniest one-liners in this movie was when he told Machete, “You know Mexico. Hell, you are Mexico,” as he swills his tequila. I think it would be a smart move for Charlie Sheen to make Carlos Estevez a permanent move. Chicanos (Americans who are of Mexican descent) are coming into an awakening. As we get older we long to revisit our roots because we want to pass a bit of our culture to our children unashamedly, after all, there was a time when Catholic nuns would slap our parents’ hands with a ruler for speaking Spanish and that negative reinforcement transcended into our current generation.
To sum it up with regard to Machete Kills, the President of the United States enlists Machete (Danny Trejo) to help save the United States and the world from nuclear destruction. The President offers Machete United States citizenship if he eliminates Marcos Mendez (Demián Bichir) a psychopath who has a split personality and threatens to fire a nuclear missile if the American government does not intervene in the rampant corruption of the government of Mexico. Mendez acquired his missile technology from a corrupt American arms manufacturer played by Mel Gibson. And ultimately Machete is that Mexican who accomplishes his mission in helping save the United States and the world.
Despite the naysayers who say Machete Kills is absolutely nothing of consequence, I would respectfully have to disagree. I saw an endearing underlying message amidst Rodriguez’s humorous childhood-like fantasies of watching bullets being fired from bras, explosions and gory killings galore, Star Wars inferences, and sexy strong women, because ultimately I saw a Chingon (bad ass) Mexican like Danny Trejo who saves the U.S. and gets called a traitor for his Patriotism and allegiance to the United States in the process.
Think about that message for a moment. You have millions of Mexican American Chicanos living in the United States who see Danny Trejo (of Mexican descent) as a hero helping save the United States. Can you see how that heroic subliminal message captivated some of our hearts?
I see a successful visionary filmmaker who has the ability to make movies for a growing market knowing we spend billions in the movie ticket sales industry. Rodriguez essentially answers to nobody and we are glad to see this filmmaker make a move to the small screen, launching his very own television channel called the El Rey Network with the idea of attracting a modern, English-speaking Latino audience. Texas resident Rodriguez believes the Mexican American Latino community has been under-served by Hollywood and the broadcast networks — and I agree. Maybe he also sees Chicanos, Mexican Americans and/or Spanish-speaking persons who gleefully appreciate pocho inferences because we are starving for familiarity. There is a large chunk of us here where English is our primary and first language, and as we get older, we sort of have this longing to get back into touch with our roots sometimes.
As a Chicana, I applaud Rodriguez for his creativity as a filmmaker. My favorite movie is still Desperado though — and perhaps it is because it has been one of my own fantasies to see mariachi rock stars stand up against more evil and the corrupt with regard to humanitarian issues, except in my fantasy the mariachi can also make a killer espresso shot or latte in addition to firing high powered weapons. We are excited to follow and see Rodriguez’s career grow. Now if we can just see him with a David Letterman-like Late Show — but instead of Paul Shaffer, it would be pretty damn cool to see Chingon imbued with Alex Ruiz vocals and the Del Castillo brothers with their amazing guitar.
Wouldn’t that make your heart skip a beat with Mexican American or Latin pride?