2012, Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media
Jump Cut, No. 54, fall 2012
racial rhetoric in digital reception
of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete
by Marina Wood
Not many people made it out to the theaters to see Machete (Rodriguez, 2010), [open notes in new window] a border film with a “race” war thrown in. In fact, the only reason I did was because I heard that the main character was a jornalero (day laborer) and as an activist and an educator in my local jornalero and migrant community, I was intrigued. I was surprised that I enjoyed the so-called “gore-fest” so much. I found that its smart humor about immigration, its border-centric inside jokes, and its portrayal of women as strong characters managed to temporarily overshadow the film’s over-the top violence and overly sexualized portrayal of its female characters. My mixed yet overall positive reaction spurred me to turn to the Internet to gauge the film’s reception. What I found was that the film was seen alternatively as mindless entertainment, a racially charged political film with some problems, another blood-soaked Rodriguez movie with needless politics, and a ticking time bomb that would cause an all-out race-war.
The film’s trailer emerged online on May 5, 2010, just weeks after the signing of the controversial Arizona law SB1070, a law which would provide Arizona police with the power to detain anyone they suspect of being “illegal.” This law was criticized widely by human rights and migrant rights organizations and activists for being an overt legalization of racial profiling and was responded to with massive boycotts and protests. Reacting to the law, the film’s blood-soaked trailer opens with an angry Machete (Danny Trejo) dedicating a “special Cinco de Mayo message to Arizona,” and ends with the narrator saying the catchphrase “they just fucked with the wrong Mexican,” over a montage of explosions and throat slitting. Internet audiences alternatively have found this “message” hilarious and a not-so thinly veiled threat. Due to this trailer, regardless of if people viewed the film Machete or not, it managed to spark controversy on the blogosphere.
Machete has become a catalyst for a conversation about race, nation, borders, and migration in a space outside of the news media and among demographics that don’t typically engage in these discussions. I am approaching Machete by first discussing and defining race, racial formation, and what the racial context at the time of the film was and then analyzing websites and blogs and comments that discuss Machete.
Though Machete is not the perfect vehicle to raise sociopolitical consciousness in the masses, I argue it does succeed in accomplishing the “re-racing” of the immigration issue. So often immigration debates claim not to be about race, but this time people had to talk about skin color, language, and culture as factors in anti-immigrant sentiment because Machete uses exaggeration and overtness to make very clear that race and migration are inexplicably connected. A factor inherent to this discussion is how Chican@/Latin@ people fit into racial categories, which is an important part of identification, community, solidarity, and coalition-building.
About the film
The film Machete is the product of an idea for a character that director Robert Rodriguez had for Danny Trejo over ten years ago when doing the Mexico trilogy. After Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez collaborated on a number of film projects together, they created a double feature, Grindhouse, named in homage of Grindhouse theaters from the 70’s which showed cult, horror, low budget, and exploitation films. Grindhouse included two neo-exploitation films, Planet Terror (Rodriguez, 2007), a horror/zombie movie, and Death Proof (Tarantino, 2007), a horror/revenge movie. Rodriguez decided to use the character of “Machete” in a fake trailer for Grindhouse without the original intention of creating a feature length film.
Following on the heels of Grindhouse, Machete is a mixture of the 70’s grindhouse, low-budget aesthetic that Rodriguez used in Planet Terror and the genres of exploitation, cine fronterizo (border film), and narcotraficante (a Mexican police subgenre). Exploitation films generally were seen in the United States in the 60‘s and 70’s and brought issues such as crime, racism, poverty and other content not sanctioned in Hollywood to the big screen, even if that screen was only at a grindhouse theatre.
The film begins in Mexico, though it does not specify where. Danny Trejo is Machete, a tough-as-nails Federale who ends up relying on a vigilante form of justice when his corrupt boss instructs him not to seek out a missing girl. While Machete and his partner are driving to retrieve the girl, the partner says, “We don’t have to do this,” to which Machete replies, “If not us, then who?”
The partner is shot as they enter the building (by driving into it) and Machete is stabbed by the kidnap victim who turned out to be working for Torrez, the drug boss. After Machete is stabbed by the formerly kidnapped woman, she is killed along with Machete’s wife and child, and Machete is left to die in a fire.
“Hey, baby, que paso?” plays the music in the background as the film takes us to the other side of the border, a cachadero, or day labor zone, in Texas. Here Machete is working as a jornalero. After he beats a man one-handed in a street boxing match, he is solicited by Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) to kill Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro). Meanwhile, the Senator, along with a vigilante group clearly modeled after the Minute Men and run by Von (Don Johnson), roam the border and film themselves murdering migrants.
During a campaign speech, Machete is atop a building preparing to shoot the Senator, but Booth’s crony, a hidden sniper, shoots both the Senator in the leg and Machete in the head instead. Booth then points up at Machete and publicly scapegoats him. Machete violently escapes police and the Senator’s henchmen and is saved twice over by the two female protagonists, Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), the good-hearted and badass immigrant’s rights revolutionary/taco truck vendedora, and Sartana (Jessica Alba), the plays-by-the rules ICE agent who supports Machete because he was a cop. At one point Machete leaves Sartana to take care of some business and she gets mad at him for not texting her. He replies “Machete don’t text.”
Though much more happens in the film, the basic storyline follows Machete seeking revenge on Booth at the same time that Booth is trying to have him killed. The story unfolds, indicating that the Senator’s campaign contributor is the Mexican drug boss, Torrez (Steven Seagal). Throughout the film, Sartana (Jessica Alba) begins to understand that laws can be unjust and she exposes Torrez, Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey), Von (Don Johnson) and McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro), while Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) is shot by Von but survives and returns in the final scenes for the revolution.
Also, Machete ends up having a brother, a priest (Cheech Marin) who is later killed by Booth and a hitman. After this goes down, he texts Booth, “You just fucked with the wrong Mexican.” Sartana says, “I thought Machete don’t text.” To which he reples, “Machete improvises.” In the end, “the network” (migrants, jornaleros, workers, homies, pachucas, palateros, and more) which is loosely led by Luz or more appropriately, the mythical counterpart she invented to give migrant crossers hope, Shé (an iconic feminine version of the Ché image), come violently head to head with the border vigilantes in an all out civil war/revolution. The war culminates in a Machete/Torrez battle which Machete wins, and the revolution sort of fizzles out. The film ends with Machete riding off into the distance with Sartana straddling him on his motorcycle.
General consensus among racial theorists is that race is not biologically meaningful as a category though they have determined that social meanings are projected on race that are undeniably fraught with real-life consequences. For what Kwame Anthony Appiah calls racialists, “races” are small groups of people divided based on their supposed “essential” commonalities of heredity, biology, intellect and morality. Karim Murji says that the term “race” does not have a precise definition, but that it historically has included both visible markers such as skin color, hair texture, facial features, and skull shape and invisible markers such as blood, bones, and brain size. According to Appiah and Murji, ideas about race and racism today have changed since scientific racism’s heyday, but that regardless, the category is based on and shaped by its original definitions.
Today, the term race refers to racial groups formed through practices of racism, racialization and racial essentialism, which treats groups of people “as if they share some common essence.” Murji adds that more recent terms such as “people of color” and “color-blind” reduce race to color, adding that in Latin America in particular color is a specific marker as there are several terms for varying skin colors, from “lechoso” to “morado.”
Though the term “raza,” which literally translates to “race,” is used by the Chican@ movement and its contemporary institutionalized forms, it is generally used to mean “the people” such as in the cases of the Raza Unida party and the National Council of La Raza. However, the term originated in José Vasconcelos’s 1925 essay, “La Raza Cósmica” (The Cosmic Race), which presented a utopian future that posited the opposite of racial purity, a future race comprised of all races.
Just as in daily life, in Machete blurry and contradictory lines are drawn between identity-based social groups. For example, “the Network” as described by Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) is made up of “all types, all races: lawyers, priests, doctors, homeboys…” Two characters who are shown to be part of the Network are a readably white man and a Mexican man (they mention this in a scene) who work together as dishwashers. Another group of characters in the Network are the doctors, nurses, and administrative staff at the hospital where Machete is taken after he is injured. Some of the staff are light skinned but appear to be of Latino descent, some appear white, and some are brown. Another set of members of the Network are two homeboys, one of which is clearly Latino, Jorge, and one of which is white with red hair, Julio. Though I assumed he was of Latino descent, there is a line in which he comes out as “adopted.” The following exchange between Machete and Julio was in relation to a possible war between border vigilantes and the Network.
Machete: It’s not your war.
Julio: I may be adopted, ese...
Machete: No shit.
The above exchange exemplifies the unwelcoming sentiment that many activists have towards those who are not Mexican. But in the film, the Network, which does end up fighting, is made up of people who connect less by race or nationality than by class, solidarity, and politics. The two dishwashers, the two homeboys, and the group of hospital staff are connected more by social class, friendship, work and upbringing than by any other factors. However, though white people and mixed race/culture people are part of the Network, this does not mean that their whiteness goes unnoticed. As demonstrated by the conversation above, Machete tells Julio it is obvious that he is not Mexican and Julio himself also acknowledges it. What this shows is that in Machete, the Network functions as a utopian solidarity group that is neither nationalist and separatist nor color blind and unaware of the consequences of perceived racial difference.
Race as we know it today can be easily conflated with terms such as nationality and ethnicity, especially when talking about Mexicanidad and Chicanismo. As a term, “race” is most often affiliated with Blackness, and secondarily with anyone not-white. Racial rhetoric when applied to Latin@ people is either reduced to color, for example the phrase “brown pride,” or nation, such as a specific country of origin. One’s nationality is a person’s membership in a nation, usually meaning they are a citizen of a particular country, but it could also point to groups within geopolitical nations such as indigenous groups and Chican@ nationalists. Mexican Americans and Chican@s do not fit easily into racial categorizations. The U.S .Census has historically only had the choices “white” or “Black.” Even when “Mexican or Mexican American” was finally put as an option, these numbers were counted as white.
The 2010 U.S. Census has decided that “Hispanic origin” is an ethnicity rather than a race. This origin, they say,
“can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States.”
Ethnicity then, though often used synonymously with race, is a whole other thing. Karim Murji defines ethnicity as “quasi-primordial collective sense of shared descent and distinct cultural traditions,” which is a break from the biological and physical markers of race. However, as we can see in the case of the U.S. Census, though one can be an ethnicity, a race, and a nationality, Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Chican@s, and Latin@s are raceless. In the case of the film Machete, the characters all live in Texas, one of the seven states which once belonged to Mexico and are collectively referred to as “Aztlan” or the home of the Aztec people within Chican@ folklore.
The moving of borders, the nonexistence of Latin@ races, and the definition of ethnicity including cultures just as much as descent, all point to the precariousness of race, nation and ethnicity. Though there may be legal implications to a person born on one side of the border rather than the other, their race does not change as they cross, their culture is not washed away, and their skin does not change colors.
In the film Machete, there is a scene in which an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, Sartana (Jessica Alba), pulls up Machete’s file on her laptop and it shows that his nationality is Mexican and his race is Hispanic. This is another example of how race and ethnicity are conflated, confused, and misused and over-used to the point of losing meaning. Why is race in Machete so explosive that it triggered such a huge Internet response? Because there are people who believe very strongly in biological races and white supremacy. Though Machete blurs these lines, many filmgoers could only see the Network as brown and the border vigilantes and right wing politicians as white. This is an inaccurate reading of the film, especially since the man behind the politician’s border fence and the supplier of resources to the vigilantes is Mexican. However, the strong reactions to the film’s portrayal of a group of people who fight against the vigilantes and the politicians, seeing it as a “race war,” show how race is still seen as something that is real and as something that is pure enough to have divisions.
Current racial context
Sentiment about race and immigration fluctuate radically in popular opinion and culture in the United States, usually based on economic factors and demographic changes and reflected by media representation. Certain analytic trends have emerged as to why outbreaks of anti-immigrant sentiment occur; the most prominent posit a national crisis. Machete, which was filmed in 2009 and came out in 2010, did so while the United States was facing a huge economic crisis. Pair that with post 9/11 raciality, which rhetorically and ideologically conflated immigrants with terrorists in politics, news media, and popular culture, and what we end up with is the scapegoating and targeting of immigrant (and those who look like immigrant) populations.
Anti-immigrant sentiment took many forms, one of the more obvious being Arizona’s SB1070. Supporters of the law, including the media, invoked the name of Robert Krentz, a white Arizona man who was allegedly murdered by an undocumented man in March 2010. However, two months later when a border vigilante group invaded an Arizona family home, killing Raul Flores and his nine-year old daughter Briseña and critically injuring wife and mother Gina, the media turned a blind eye. While SB1070 stirred up protests and boycotts from immigrants rights advocates, it also motivated several other states to propose similar laws.
Aside from legal means, groups like the Minute Men, the KKK, and the Neo-Nazi group the Nationalist Socialist Movement have, along with the Tea Party, organized anti-immigrant protests, marches, and rallies nationwide. Each group accuses Obama of promoting amnesty and demands more fortification of the borders. High profile politicians such as Rand Paul, Mark Kirk, Meg Whitman, and Jan Brewer also became notorious for being anti-immigrant mouthpieces. Though accused of lax immigration initiatives, under Obama there have been more deportations than under the Bush administration and Border Patrol and ICE raids are becoming more and more common.
The rise of the Tea Party also impelled many moderate Republicans such as John McCain to recant or reconsider their agendas and campaigns in order to meet the approval and vote of the conservative constituency. And in the wake of SB1070, Arizona also wrote bill HB 2281 which would ban ethnic studies. Thus, the film Machete exploited or, better yet, tapped into the anti-immigrant/Chican@/Latin@ political climate in the United States. But it is debatable whether Rodriguez did so in true exploitation style of making a quick buck.
Race is social and cultural rather than biological. But how is it shaped and formed in order to have signifiers attached to each color, each characteristic, each geographic location? Critical race studies have generally focused on Blackness and whiteness. The one-drop rule, slavery, freedom, biraciality, “passing,” and anti-Black racism have been written about and analyzed at length. More recently whiteness studies have discussed whiteness outside of its relation to Blackness and have attempted to expose whiteness as several different things—such as property, privilege, and most importantly, something visible.
Also recently biracial and multiracial studies have emerged and interrogated the Black/white binarism of critical race studies and looked at the implications of multiraciality. Gloria Anzaldúa’s new Mestiza consciousness is a long-awaited theory which has been used extensively in Chican@ and Feminist studies to discuss the complicatedness of being a person descended from the Spanish colonizers and the Indigenous colonized people of Latin America. Anzaldúa, along with her colleagues, were able to discuss race and racial mixture in a Latin@ context. However, unlike the typical “white/Black in America” articles of critical race studies, her theory necessarily explores gender, sexuality, race, geography and the constructed borders between and among these identity markers as changeable and simultaneous. She discusses Chican@ identity in a way which de-centers race and citizenship. Even Mexicanidad isn’t necessarily about being from Mexico:
“Being Mexican is a state of soul - not one of mind, not one of citizenship. Neither eagle nor serpent, but both. And like the ocean, neither animal respects borders.”
To analyze how race is “formed” has been foundational for critical race studies as it has helped track how perceptions of race are constructed and how racial hierarchies function to oppress people perceived to be of color or Jewish. An important factor in looking at race is recognizing that the penalties applied to people of color are done so when they are perceived to be of color. Thus, while mixed-race, multiracial, biracial, and people who are not-white may identify as “a person of color,” if they are not perceived to be, they may benefit from white privilege in certain circumstances. Whiteness scholars have described white privilege as how whites benefit from living in a white-centric and white supremacist country. These benefits include historical legal benefits such as being in a family line allowed to own property, perceived as nonthreatening, represented in the media and in politics, and able to buy band-aids, wear nylons, and use crayons in “skin color” that matches their skin.
Sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant wrote their foundational work, Racial Formation in the United States in opposition to the assimilationism of ethnicity theory. They argue that ethnicity theory did not take into account that which keeps some ethnic groups from assimilating fully to hegemonic “Americanness” due to the equation of Americanness with whiteness. Omi and Winant argue that though race is not inherent, biological, or essential, color-blind policies which aim to deny race’s existence only strengthen its effect. Their theory of “racial formation” traces the “sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed.” They describe how race is formed and transformed through racial projects “in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.” Racial projects can be large-scale, institutional, ideological or individual and can be racist or not, but they are always at work. A major historical example of a racial project was the European conquest of the Americas wherein the “discoverers” began the project of categorical social reorganization of humans, in this case a hierarchical one.
In contemporary culture, blogs and especially their comments fora are textbook racial projects as the conversations, language used, and exchanges shape, reshape, and reflect interpretations of what race is and how it is discussed. In this light, Lisa Nakamura’s groundbreaking books Cybertypes and Digitizing Race have effectively disproved that the Internet is a raceless utopia, finding instead that the Internet is not only a place where “race happens” but is part of racial formation, what Nakamura calls “digital racial formation.”
Digital racial formation thus points to racial projects which occur on the Internet. For example, exchanges on a blog comment forum may begin with “trolling,” but each conversation can potentially inform someone of a term or an idea they had never heard before. In this way, when on a basically apolitical film site a comment like “all jews should be shot” pops up within a discussion of a movie with absolutely no references to Jewish people, the comment has causes and effects. Though this comment was most likely made in jest by a film fan who found racial discourse inappropriate on AICN (Ain’t it Cool News), it is still undeniably violent.
The fact that the commenter chose to introduce Jewish people into a conversation about people of color may show that there has been a relaxation in the acceptability of anti-Semitism as the popular culture version of “Jewish” is white (such as Jerry Seinfeld). Race and whiteness are often spoken about as being at-odds with one another, as in, one is either of a certain race or someone is white. But Daniel Bernardi has pointed out in his writings on whiteness and Hollywood that their meanings are linked or paired by being at-odds with one another. Race is defined against whiteness thus they are interdependent. Bernardi says that whiteness is constructed and represented in Hollywood but that though present, it is also “absent” as it is taken for granted and invisible.
Like many whiteness scholars, Bernardi is critical of whiteness, whether in its mediated forms or IRL (in real life), when it is portrayed as the default state. An oft-used example of the default state of whiteness is the avatar used in video games and many Internet sites, whether it be a whole person or just a hand (as in some shooting games). It is when whiteness stands as an unquestioned norm that academics, scholars and activists point out the inherent racism of the positioning of people of color as different or aberrant. Whiteness scholars are quick to point out that whiteness is an invisible, taken for granted privilege. But even such a critique which traces the difficulty of the racial project of making the invisible visible, as Sara Ahmed points out,
“may come in part from a sense that the project of making whiteness visible only makes sense from the point of view of those for whom it is invisible.”
Though Rodriguez’s Machete depicts the border vigilantes as stereotypical white rednecks, they are not the only white people in the film. White characters also include politicians, laborers, and members of the Network, which alters the stark divisions made by critics and past exploitation films. As depicted in the film, whiteness and race are much less simple then being either/or, default or aberrant, or necessarily at-odds with one another. In reality and in popular culture race and whiteness are mixed up, complex, and often arbitrarily determined. More and more Latin@/Chican@ youth are born into culturally, racially and generationally mixed families, thus going beyond bicultural/biracial and first generation and entering into tricultural/triracial, fourth and fifth generation, Afro-Latin@, Mestiz@, Hapa, and more.
Machete is an example of how a fictional narrative can just throw people together and not explain how Mexican they are, or if they are citizens or not, and just let the audience decide who is who. It is in the audience reception that we are able to see how people read the character’s races, ethnicities, and nationalities, and how they did so tells us more about the “reader” than it does the characters. Since so much reception is based around a white/Mexican binary, it is telling that mixture, in a number of forms, is still something that racial formation is grappling with.
The Internet as audience
The Internet is a vast network with seemingly endless forms of social discourse about a wide array of topics. The rhetoric found on the internet is rich in information about how people think and talk about race in their reactions to news and entertainment.
According to Fox, Machete was being marketed to “the Latino community.” It is important to note that I am discussing the reception on the Internet, a luxury which not all people have access to, much less use regularly. In fact, according to a 2010 report by the Pew Research Center, only 45% of Latino adults had access to broadband Internet last year (Meanwhile, 65% of white adults and 52% of black adults had access). Therefore, I would not claim that digital reception can be looked at as representative of all populations, but that in the case of the film Machete since there was a digital eruption about racialism and racism, it deserves to be looked at. Further, as the film was promoted in large part on the Internet via the fake trailer, Internet advertising, and video and print interviews online, the film’s viewership was already limited in large part to those with Internet access.
Though Fox aimed to target “hispanic audiences,” the people taking notice of the film have been political extremists, Rodriguez fans, and left academics, activists, and writers. The characters in the film, migrant border crossers, dishwashers, gardeners, and day laborers are not the main demographic viewing the film and thus not filtering their own representations. Thus, the conversation about filmic representation in the digital sphere ends up focusing less on class and migrant status and more on race.
In order to focus within the vast network of materials on the Internet which referred to the film Machete, I will be describing and quoting from a few specific forums, each of which I chose to be representative of a certain general reaction from Internet audiences. The comments sections of the respective reference and rating sites the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Rotten Tomatoes represent folks who enjoy and often take very seriously the rating, reviewing, and/or critiquing of movies. Since Machete caused such a racially charged stir on the Internet, the sites both attracted users who may not normally post on them as well as caused apolitical established users to engage in political/racial discussions. These sites are an important sample as each site has no raciopolitical agenda whatsoever; an average entry reads the film for things such as plot development, character dimension, and professional quality. Additionally, I am quoting from a conversation between two contributors on the pop culture blog Racialicious in order to represent anti-racist concerns and views about the film. Since this blog does center on race, it represents how the film might appear when looking through a racial lens which rejects the idea that whiteness is the norm or supreme “race.”
The next two samples are from the articles and comments sections at Ain’t it Cool News (AICN), a newsite for TV, DVD and comic book news; and “conspiracy king” Alex Jones’s two websites, Info Wars and Prison Planet. These two sites’ user demographics represent polarized viewpoints on the film. AICN (Ain’t it Cool News) is ran by Harry Knowles, a fan of Rodriguez. Knowles’ readers are generally also pre-existing fans of gore, Rodriguez, or film in general. Like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) this site is generally not a forum for political or racial conversations, but AICN uniquely brings in a more “fanboy” audience which includes “Comic-Con” goers; fans who might go so far as to buy several versions of the DVD, posters, and action figures; and viewers who generally read the film in relation to other Rodriguez films or other films in the exploitation genre rather than see it in terms of plot, politics, or race.
Alex Jones and his readership, however, whether or not they actually watched the film, responded to it with pre-existing anti-immigrant biases. Jones’s two websites are overtly focused on politics and are much more pre-occupied with the film’s effects on viewers then anything else. To Jones and his readership, the film’s “message” may actually cause racially motivated violence, and thus its reception is loaded with fear and anger. I have found that the anonymity of Internet posting with “handles” has allowed for a startling amount of exaggerated hate speech, violent threats, and disrespectful language. This is certainly the case in the way commenters responded to Machete, though further study would be necessary to determine if the people posting these insults and threats use similar language in real life (commonly abbreviated online as IRL).
Lastly, looking at the race-focused pop-culture blog Racialicious, I intend to show how the film Machete is discussed with an anti-racist racial lens. Racialicious is run by Latoya Peterson, a self-described anti-racist feminist media junkie; it is run by a team of about 10 writers and editors though it also accepts submissions. Unlike Ain’t it Cool News, the blog is overtly political, and unlike Info Wars and Prison Planet it is overtly left-leaning.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Rotten Tomatoes
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has become a go-to for movie consumers to see what a movie is about, what actors are in it, and what other movies or television shows an actor has been in. IMDB also has a lot of other uses, such as a user generated 1-10 star rating system. It can also be used to look up a director or producer’s CV, find quotes from movies, and have discussions about TV shows or films with other IMDB members. Rotten Tomatoes has also become a one-stop reference point for filmgoers. It uses a “Tomatometer” to indicate a rating percentage from 0-100 by either all critics or top critics and another rating percentage from audience members. Rotten Tomato users can read reviews by droves of Internet, magazine, blog, and newspaper film critics, top professional critics, and audience members who write in amateur critic style. Each of these websites are used by a wide audience as cinematic reference points.
Unlike other blogs and websites, IMDB does not have a review of the film and then allow comments. It simply has a very basic synopsis; then users can either review the movie or have conversations on message boards of their own making. A quick look at IMDB shows that Machete has a star rating of 6.9, 333 user reviews, and five pages of message board conversation topics. Message boards cover a range of topics such as the portrayal of Catholicism; the rating and discussion of the actresses bodies; the music the film’s liberalness, stupidity, or humor or lack thereof. The review section focuses largely on plot, character development and quality of acting. For example one reviewer spent several paragraphs critiquing how many minutes each character had of screen time and how many minutes were devoted to action. Another reviewer criticized the casting of Steven Seagal due to his weight gain.
Rotten Tomatoes, a widely-used reference site, earned a 73% on its Tomatometer from critics, and a 64% from audience members. The site has 174 reviews of the film by professional and amateur movie critics, 26 of which are hosted on the film’s main page, half good (fresh) and half bad (rotten). This site, unlike sites with comments boards, does not foster conversations, exchanges, or arguments as the critics each wrote reviews independent of the other reviews. The reviews generally make similar critiques, that the film was “repetitive,” “messy,” “crudo,” or “lack[ing] in subtlety.” Most all reviewers, if they did have something good to say, said the film was “fun.” More than anywhere else, probably due to the lack of exchange on the site, Rotten Tomatoes did not have comments about the film’s politics as correct or incorrect, just a general consensus among critics that the politics were too simple, and too obvious.
Alex Jones and Ain’t it Cool News
The next sites I am discussing seemed to have a direct conversation with each other over Machete. Alex Jones, is a loud mouth white Libertarian with a number of websites, the main ones being Infowars and Prison Planet, and a six-day-a-week Austin, TX-based independent radio show with an estimated million listeners a day. Jones’s conspiracy theories about such things as 9/11 being an inside job, FEMA running concentration camps, and the government poisoning the water to dumb down the population are what Nightline has dubbed “paranoia porn.” In this light, many news outlets have linked violent incidents including an assassination attempt on the President to Jones’ fans. On the Infowars site Jones’ bio includes the fact that he defends “our nation’s borders,” which, paired with his Austin location, makes the film Machete a high interest case for this “conspiracy king.” Jones found the film Machete threatening enough to devote articles, interviews, and Youtube videos warning of its anti-white racism. A reader of “pro-white” news site White News Now said in relation to Jones and Machete, “I'm normally not a big fan of Alex Jones, but it seems like this movie has maybe stirred a spark of white identity in him...” pointing to the fact that whiteness is not a primary theme of Jones’s media.
The second site, Ain’t it Cool News, is a movie gossip and fanboy website run by now notorious Harry Knowles. Knowles says he started the site in 1996 to leak information from insider sources about movies that were in production or in pre-screening, much to the public ire of filmmakers. Since its inception Knowles has been embraced by studios and provided information and invited to pre-screenings, but Knowles insists that he still remains unbiased in his reviews of the films. The website is one of the most infamous sites for film reviews, spoilers and gossip and has even been parodied in the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Smith, 2001). Knowles, once just seen as a white, nerdy red headed college dropout on a computer, has since become known as a movie critic whose reviews can make or break a film. Though his site is not overtly political about anything but the freedom to provide the public with information, his name is published online as being a contributor to the 2008 Barack Obama campaign.
The back and forth over Machete began when Ain’t it Cool News published what director Robert Rodriguez called the “illegal” trailer for Machete on May 5, 2010. According to Harry Knowles, Rodriguez and actor Danny Trejo dropped the trailer off at his house after talking Fox into allowing them to put together a “Cinco de Mayo message for ARIZONA” (sic). Knowles’ small write-up that accompanies the trailer calls the forthcoming film a “silly fun project” that is “real exploitation at its height,” noting, “that shit was pulled straight out of the headlines, even sometimes slightly before they were the headlines.” The trailer begins with Trejo saying, “This is Machete with a special Cinco de Mayo message...to Arizona!” and then cuts to scenes of a violent border battle. The trailer ends with Machete soaring through the air on a motorcycle that shoots bullets with an explosion behind him. The narrator says in reference to the politicians and vigilantes who were trying to kill Machete, “They soon realized- they just fucked with the wrong Mexican.” The post had 275 pages of comments (and counting) of back-and-forth polarized insults against Rodriguez, Arizona, immigrants and other commenters.
Some themes that emerged were the wishing harm upon Harry Knowles, best exemplified by jeditemple’s comment “fuck your politics harry. I hope you get raped by mexicans.” Other themes were angry and often violent exchanges between commenters who identified each other as “liberal” or “rednecks.” For example, ron2112 mentioned in a comment, “The left is really making asses of themselves,” and mattheius2783 commented that people who didn’t agree with SB1070 were “liberal idiots.” Meanwhile ptsdpete commented, “STFU and die, Redneck Teabagger Scum,” and quantize commented,“stupid redneck cunts who DO NOT GET IT.” Another theme asked if Ain’t it Cool News (AICN) was meant for liberal readers. One comment asked, “there are still conservatives who read this site?” and another said, “I didn’t realize so there were so many white trash, rednecks on this site.” One comment said, “as much as it pains you libs, conservative do read AICN.” Though there were many different responses to the trailer/blogpost, many of which were just jokes and insults, one last theme I want to mention questions if AICN is a place for a political debate. Boogieboy said, “fucking idiots discussing politics on a film site,” and turd_has_risen_from_the_grave asked,
“Who'd have thought that a silly exploitation movie could inspire such fervent political debate?”
Rhetorically, commenters exchanged words in a clearly uncensored, over-the-top, extreme way. Hurled insults and threats seemed casual. However, what one can glean from the comments is that AICN and Knowles himself are left-leaning, that anti-immigrant “conservatives” get labeled as white rednecks, and that commenters do not find film review sites appropriate places for political debates. Additionally, as many comments which simply posted apolitical positive responses to the trailer/blog such as “Rodriguez for God,” this overtly political film is easily seen by some, as Knowles puts it, as just a “silly fun project.” Interestingly, the strongest language used in the comment forum was directed against white people, against Knowles for his liberal politics and “rednecks” for their conservative politics. The language used did not insult or threaten anyone because of their race or color, but it did assume that “rednecks” are ignorant. Here the slur points to class rather than any essential white characteristic.
In an impressively rapid response, Alex Jones coauthored a three-page article on his Infowars site four days later, on May 9, 2010, arguing that the film “evokes race war” and could hinder the “long history of co-mingling and harmony among white and hispanic populations” in Mexico and Texas. Jones’ grossly inaccurate account of harmonious white/Hispanic “co-mingling” and Texas-U.S. history provides him with the basis of his argument: that the film has the power to ruin racial harmony and incite racial violence. Considering that several of Jones’s articles on his sites defend his own documentaries from being censored for inciting violence, he ironically then accuses the film Machete of doing exactly that. The article also sys the film glorifies violence against white Americans and quotes two crew members of the film “who happened to be hispanic” who feared the film “could cause a cultural backlash and do harm to the otherwise positive image of the hispanic community.” In fact, as Charles Ramirez Berg, Rosa Linda Fregoso, and Chon Noriega painstakingly outline, Chican@ and Latin@ representation is so regularly underrepresented and stereotyped negatively most of the time, that simply saying that there is a “positive image” does not make it so.
When I first visited Jones’ article, it had pages upon pages of comments; the site now says “comments are closed” and there are none. However, the comments are not dissimilar to those on the following articles, comments which I did manage to save before they were taken down.
Ten days later, on May 19, 2010, AICN released a new blogpost with an exclusive interview with Robert Rodriguez stating, “the truth about Machete” is that the trailer was a fake and was “cut...to make it look like the entire film was about Machete leading a revolt against anti-immigrant politicians and border vigilantes” when that is not what the film is really about. “What can I say,” he says, “it was Cinco de Mayo and I had too much tequila.” In the interview Rodriguez self-identifies as being fourth-generation Mexican American, asserting it as a sort of street cred for understanding “both sides,” explaining that there is corruption on either side of the border in the film and that the villain is Mexican. He downplays the “fake” trailer, saying it is satire. “It’s just a damn fun movie,” Rodriguez says, going on to compare the film’s sense of reality with Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2009). When prompted about his thoughts on Arizona, he responds, “zzzzzzz,” expressing boredom at the question, then says he doesn’t believe in marches, protests or rallies, stating that “the real power is in voting” for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Such advice is peculiar, considering that the people most affected by immigration reform cannot vote in the United States.
Some of my own thoughts on this interview are reflected in the comments. For example, ebonic_plague said, “RR’s vague answer [was] probably due to studio pressure,” and neo zeed said, “Sounds like Rodriguez is feeling the backlash.” Indeed, Alex Jones stirred up quite a storm and Rodriguez most likely was tired of the bad press. There were posts on the Internet of various cities planning protests of the film, one group even claiming that they were “bringing their own machetes.” Additionally dozens of websites and news sites picked up on Jones’s articles and videos about the trailer, many of them angrily agreeing with Jones’s idea about the film’s inciting a race war. The rest of the comments to the interview were again full of insults, this time mostly directed at Rodriguez; commenters were either disappointed there was no race war or were Jones fans saying things such as, “9/11 was an inside job.”
Five days later Alex Jones’s Info Wars site had a response. “Robert Rodriguez Backpedals on His ‘Message to Arizona’ read the title of Amy di Miceli’s article, though the first sentence added that he was also “pathetic” and “arrogant.” She argues that “it matters not” if the trailer becomes something other than it appears because his “racist propaganda piece cannot be undone.” This article did not have much else to say and seemed unsure of about how to react: first seeing the trailer as evoking a race war only to find out it was a joke. I find it telling that Alex Jones himself failed to comment on the fact. Once again, this article closed its comments. Come September 5, 2010, when the film came out, it seemed to vindicate Jones in his original position. He once again coauthored an article, this time on Prison Planet, entitled “‘Machete’ Producers Lied About Racist Bloodbath.” The article states that the film portrays Southerners as racist stereotypes and Minute Men as “sub-human animals who hunt and murder illegals.” He says there has not been “such an openly racist film in America since...the pro KKK ‘Birth of a Nation.’ He also focuses on tax incentives that the film “had practically already been assured,” and questions if the film might glorify a “‘Reconquista‘ view” of the United States.
Jones accuses the film of pitting whites and Latin@s against each other and states that it was “dripping with hate.” However, the protagonists and antagonists in the film are more complicated than simply white and Latin@. Class plays the largest part in the groupings of characters: the white minute-men types are seemingly of the same class status as much of the “network” of multiethnic dishwashers, gardeners and jornaleros. The other groups are also made up of both Brown and white people such as the drug boss, Torrez, who is Mexican but working with the white Senator’s men; and the hero, Machete, who is also Mexican but working with the Mexican Americans Luz and Sartana alongside the multiethnic “network.” The network, though implicitly endless, consists of a few main characters, the dishwashers, the homeboys, the hospital staff, seemingly all gardeners shown, and the scores of brown faces who come out from the woodwork for the final battle. Thus, there is not a clear white=bad, brown=good set up as Jones suggests. Even the “bad guy” vigilante group is portrayed as having human feelings as one of the characters vomits each time someone is shot.
Unlike the comments on AICN, the comments on the September 5 Prison Planet article were all in support of the article save for one. The discussion took for granted that the film was “anti-white hate propaganda” and a large portion of the comments discussed which weapons they either already had or were going to get in order to be ready for the Latin@ uprising. Several commenters feared that the target audience of the film, “Hispanic” and “illiterate mestizo Latins,” are “very impressionable and will believe just about anything they see on screen” so there would be no avoiding the race war that Jones was predicting. Other commenters agreed a race war was impending but were pleased that the film would bring it at a quicker rate and would garner more support for the white “empire.” And though the basic themes of the comments had to do with Latin@/white relations, a few said anti-Black phrases. One comment by ranger labeled Obama, “the community organizer,” and said that Obama and all blacks want a “black controlled USA.”
This is an example of Black being a pseudo-synonym for race. It is very rare that people talk about “race” without at least mentioning Blackness, at least as a historical reference. Even Alex Jones alluded to Birth of a Nation when discussing Machete as an example of a movie that incited racialized violence. One last comment that caught my eye was,
“We can expect more and more of these sort of movies because whites will never complain for fear of being labeled racist.”
However, considering the loud opposition engendered by the film, this is clearly untrue.
Racialicious is a blog “about the intersection of race and pop culture” and a “critique of questionable media representations.” The “Racialicious Review of Machete” was a conversation between Latino managing editor Arturo R. García, who usually covers “the geekier side of the spectrum” and Asian American Deputy Editor Thea Lim, an “anti-imperialist Third Culture Kid.”
García begins by critiquing the exploitation genre choice as a vehicle for a political message, stating that setting out to make “an ‘intentionally bad’ movie” sets you up as an “unreliable narrator.” Lim, on the other hand likes the idea of bringing the issue of immigration to an audience that won’t go see documentaries about it and will cheer up audiences affected by it. Lim’s argument echoes that made by Cheech Marin in reference to Born in East L:
“The best way to make a statement is you slip it in the coffee so that don’t taste it, but they get the effect.”
Though Lim said the film seemed to be for a target audience of Rodriguez fans and people against SB1070, García said that he didn’t enjoy the film even though he is both: he wanted either “full on camp” or “a fully realized action thriller.” Lim speculates,
“I have to wonder how much, in a sense, coming out as a politicized Chican@ in this film, affected the quality of his film.”
But Rodriguez has remained tight-lipped about Chicanismo and has never really come out as Chicano. Even in his interview with AICN he self identifies as “4th generation Mexican-American” rather than Chicano. However, it is unclear, as Lim imagines, how Rodriguez’s coming out might excuse cinematic “lower quality.” If indeed the film were meant to be a semi-personal coming out, then the film’s not resolving the problems associated with immigration reveal where Rodriguez stood politically at the time of it’s making. Perhaps a lack of a long-term vision for revolution could have affected the quality of the plot.
The two reviewers go on to analyze more than just the racial, ethnic, and national aspects of the film to agree that its gender politics were “half-assed,” though the only examples they gave were to mention Alba’s “Sexy Cop” outfit and the plot’s lack of closure for Luz. Perhaps anyone who watched Machete, myself included, might critique its gender politics, although the film did pass the woman-centered, Internet-based “Bechdel test.” Does the film have three dimensional female characters? Does it contain overt sexualization of the female character’s bodies. It certainly has sex scenes unnecessary to the storyline other than to make Machete even more macho, and yes, as Lim points out, Luz gets the shaft, in that though she is the ultimate strong three-dimensional woman of color, her storyline has no closure
If the reviewers were to change anything about the film, García said he would have liked Mexico to be shown with “indoor plumbing and paved streets,” for Luz to have given the speech declaring “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” instead of Sartana, and for the “redheaded cholo” to die. Lim said she would have liked to see other immigrant communities of color and could have done without Torrez’s Asian fetish. This conversation was entertaining for me as it resembles many thoughts and conversations I have had. However, I was surprised that García was so staunchly opposed to the film for what seemed to be no good reason. He kept insisting that Rodriguez has done a better job at portraying Mexico in past films and that this film just “wasn’t clever.”
Lim, on the other hand, sounded critical of the gender presentations, hopeful about Rodriguez’s intentions as a politicized filmmaker, and even happy to see the redheaded “mixed culture” kid, Julio, whom García wanted dead. I found it interesting and distasteful that García wanted Julio to die, especially since the reason was simply that “he bugged” García. This is an extreme reaction to a character who has little signifying factors besides his light complexion. García’s overemphasis on the portrayal of Mexico and de-emphasis on the characters and politics in the film or even the portrayal of revolution made the critical conversation seem like it was between a feminist and a Mexican nationalist rather than two pop-culture race theorists.
Hollywood & Fine, Ain’t it Cool News, Racialicious, and Alex Jones’s websites offer just four examples of how the Internet can collect and store valuable cultural data. Each of these sites and every person behind them has their own definition and opinion about race and whiteness. All groups here should be looked at with a critical eye. In watching Machete I was inspired to think through my seemingly contradictory states of being white, Mexican American, Chicana and a woman. The character of Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) became my new hero as she was Mexican American, a believer in revolution, and a leader. Also, as an activist and an educator in my local day labor community I am pleased that jornaleros are shown at all. However, the film’s camera angles, character arcs and sexualization of two female protagonists were nothing short of a disappointment. Similarly, the lack of character development of the other jornaleros besides Machete shows that this film provides just the beginning of what it might look like to humanize ignored populations.
Additionally, Machete was jornlero-centric, completely leaving out jornaleras such as domestic workers. Machete has sex with a total of four women in the film, something in line with the exploitation genre but unrealistic and unnecessary to the plot. The film ends after the “revolution,” which is more like a small-scale civil war, yet stops short of becoming “la revolucion” that Luz anticipated. Robert Rodriguez’s quote regarding Machete’s character sums up his (and the film’s) stance on xenophobic and racist immigration issues,
“You create superheroes to take care of problems that can’t really be solved another way.”
Thus, as Rodriguez is a nonbeliever in a solution, his film acts as an exaggerated pipe dream. However, I believe that though Rodriguez ultimately means the film to be an unrealistic, superhuman answer to real-life problems, he tapps into a real-life immigrant rights movement that does believe in varying levels of revolution and reform.
Aside from representations within the film, the digital reception of the film is telling in terms of where certain demographics are in terms of discussing race. Pitting action and gore fans against hard line anti-immigrant Libertarians and mixing that in with Chican@s and cinephiles of many political persuasions on the Internet, racial debates about film moved from Black and white to Brown and white. Only in Racialicious were the white and mixed heritage characters who were not part of the vigilante group even discussed, and the array of terminologies used only proved how seldom people have racial debates about Latin@s. Too often immigration debates claim not to be about race, but this time people had to talk about skin color, language, and culture as factors in anti-immigrant sentiment because Machete so blatantly put it out there. Though Machete’s reception has not been very far-reaching, it, like Born in East L.A., has managed to bring a message to Hollywood, and people noticed, were forced to think about it, and responded to it. The racial project never really ends, but for Chican@/Latin@s, being seen as “raced” might just be beginning.
1. Though Machete had a fairly average gross of $14,102,888 for an action film its opening weekend, the gross plummeted 62% the next weekend, and 59% the weekend after that, and didn’t stop falling. Box Office Mojo. “Machete.” Box Office Mojo. 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 26 Aug. 2011. [return to text]
2. The border film, also known as cine fronterizo, is a Mexican film genre that though historically tied to exploitation cinema has of late been taken up by Hollywood filmmakers in the United States such as Cheech Marin’s Born in East LA (1987) and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Jones, 2005) Though the “border” in Machete I am primarily referencing is the geographical Texas/Mexico borderlands in which the film takes place there certainly are more spiritual, cultural, identity-based, and other Anzaldúa n borders at play in the film.
3. "Jornalero" comes from the word "jornal," which comes from the Latin root "Diurnus," which means "day." A "jornal" is a single day's wage, or correspondingly, the work done for that wage. The idea that goes along with this is that a jornalero works from day-to-day with no security about the next day's work. This virtually guarantees a hand-to-mouth existence. At the same time that this circumstance comes from a disparity in status between worker and employer, the instability that the system generate reinforces and recreates that disparity.
Day work is one of the oldest documented professions. It is mentioned in the Book of Exodus (12:45) in the context of the Passover and the return from Egypt (jornaleros, understood to be 'foreigners,' are not permitted to eat the unleavened bread of the Passover ritual) and again in Leviticus (19:13), when the faithful are enjoined against abusing day laborers. Thus there is a long tradition dating back to Biblical times of both discrimination against (à la Exodus) and requiring justice for jornaleros, and that identity has long been tied up to ingroup/outgroup identities in respect to nationality and borders.
4. Stephen Holden. “Growl, and Let the Severed Heads Fall Where They May.” The New York Times. 2 Sept. 2010. Web. Apr. 2011.
5. The film’s first trailer was a fake trailer which preceded the Grindhouse films, Planet Terror (Rodriguez 2007) and Death Proof (Tarantino, 2007). It wasn’t until later that Rodriguez decided to make Machete feature length.
6. Randal C. Archibold. "Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration." The New York Times. 23 Apr. 2010: A1. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
7. Curtis Pendergast. "Narratives in the News: SB 1070 Boycotts." The Sonoran Chronicle. 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
8. The Mexico Trilogy or the Mariachi Trilogy follows the character of a Mariachi through three films, El Mariachi, (1992) Desperado (1995), and Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003).
9. The comeback of the exploitation film can be seen as beginning with Rodriguez and Tarantino’s From Dusk till Dawn (1996) and Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997).
10. Rodriguez was surprised to find that audiences and Trejo himself pushed him to make the trailer into a feature length film. Christina Radish, "Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo Interview MACHETE." Collider. 29 Aug. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.
11. Cachadero is a slang term in Spanish for where day laborers “catch” jobs. It could be a corner, a site, a center, or in the case of the film Machete it is just an unmarked area.
12. Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project seeks to secure the US/Mexico border through “volunteers” who “man” the border to prevent border crossers.
13. Anthony Kwame Appiah, "Race." Critical Terms for Literary Study. 2nd ed. Eds. Lentricchia, Frank, and Thomas McLaughlin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1995. Print.
14. Ibid. p. 276
15. Karim Murji, “Race.” New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society Eds. Bennett, Tony and Lawrence Grossberg. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing: 2005. Print.
16. Ibid. p. 291
17. Ibid. p. 294
18. The terms Chicano and Chicana have been debated about in terms of if they points to race, ethnicity or nationhood. Rosa Linda Fregoso answers the quandary of “whom to consider for membership into the Chicano nation” by “de-emphasizing the biological claims to authenticity, yet accentuating its political dimension.” Charles Ramírez Berg said the term “implied pride as well as activism and oppositional politics.”
19. Campbell Gibson, Kay Jung. "Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, For The United States, Regions, Divisions, and States". Working Paper Series No. 56. Sept. 2002. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.
21. Karim Murji, “Ethnicity.” New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society Eds. Bennett, Tony and Lawrence Grossberg. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing: 2005. Print.
22. Much like the term “raza,” the term “Aztlan” is not always necessarily literal, but is more of a mythological home.
23. Kevin R. Johnson. “Pursuing Equal Justice in the West: Driver’s Licenses and Undocumented Immigrants: The Future of Civil Rights Law?” Nevada Law Journal. Feb 2004.
24. Though the character Machete was first imagined in 1993 when Robert Rodriguez was making Desperado, he never realized the script he had been writing until he made the fake trailer for Grindhouse in 2006. The film Machete was filmed in 2009 and 2010.
Ryan McKee. "The Origins of Machete: How Danny Trejo Went From Convict to Action Hero." Next Movie. Ed. Kevin Polowy, Breanne L. Heldman, and Brooke Tarnoff. N.p., 2 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Mar. 2011.
Bruce Simmons. "Machete Filming has Wrapped." Brusimm. Ed. Bruce Simmons. N.p., 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 19 Mar. 2011.
25. Raul A. Reyes. "Brisenia Flores Was a Victim of Border Vigilantes and Media Indifference." Huffington Post 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
Terry Green Sterling. "U.S. News More U.S. News The Minuteman Vigilante's Arizona Murder Trial." The Daily Beast 26 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
26. Joe Tacopino. "Neo-Nazi groups take up arms in Arizona to combat illegal immigration." NY Daily News 18 July 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
Sarah Viets. "Neo-Nazi Activities Target Immigrants." Imagine 2050. Ed. Jill Garvey. N.p., 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
27. Frank James. “Deportations Higher Under Obama Than Bush.” NPR. 26 July 2010. 2 April 2011. Web.
28. Nicole Santa Cruz.“Arizona bill targeting ethnic studies signed into law” Los Angeles Times. 12 May 2010. 5 April 2011. Web.
29. For more on this see:
30. Excerpt from McIntosh 1988 Working Paper #189, published in Peace and Freedom, July/August 1989; reprinted in Independent School, Winter 1990.
31. Ibid. 55
32. Ibid. 56
33. Lisa Nakamura. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge. 2002. Print.
34. Lisa Nakamura. Digitizing Race:Visual Cultures on the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2008. Print.
35. People who say things solely to start fights or make trouble.
36. A comment by noiretblanc on AICN’s May 5 article. This AICN reader’s other comments on the site are strictly fangirl/boyish.
37. Daniel Bernardi, ed. The Persistence of Whiteness: Race and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. Abingdon: Routledge. 2008. Print.
38. Sara Ahmed. “Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism.” Borderlands, 3.2. (2004) Web.
40. Nikki Finke. "George Clooney's 'The American' Wins Weekend, Robert Rodriguez's 'Machete' #2, Drew Barrymore's 'Going The Distance' #5." Deadline Hollywood. Ed. Nikki Finke, Mike Fleming, Nellie Andreeva, and Tim Adler. Mail.com Media Corporation, 4 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.
41. Socioeconomic status factors greatly in these numbers as people with similar levels of education and salary tend to have similar access to the Internet regardless of race. Gretchen Livingston. "Pew Hispanic Center." Latinos and Digital Technology. Pew Research Center, Feb. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.
42. "Machete." Internet Movie Database. Amazon, Sept. 2010. Web. 19 May 2012.
43. “Machete.” Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter, Sept. 2010. Web. 19 May 2012.
44. Alex Jones. Info Wars. Ed. Kurt Nimmo, Aaron Dykes, Marleigh Jones, and Matt Ryan. Free Speech Systems, LLC , n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2011. http://www.infowars.com/
45. Alex Jones. Prison Planet. Ed. Kurt Nimmo, Aaron Dykes, Marleigh Jones, and Matt Ryan. Free Speech Systems, LLC , Web. 13 Feb. 2011. http://www.prisonplanet.com/
46. Dan Harris. “Angry in America: Inside Alex Jones' World.” Nightline. 2 Sept. 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
47. Dan Harris. “Angry in America: Inside Alex Jones' World.” Nightline. 2 Sept. 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
William Yardley. “White House Shooting Suspect’s Path to Extremism.” The New York Times. 20 Nov. 2011: A13. Web. 22 Nov. 2011.
48. Anti-Defamation League, Center on Extremism. (2009). Special Report “Rage Grows in America: AntiGovernment Conspiracies.”
49. Negative3. “New Robert Rodriguez movie promotes violence against White Americans.” White News Now. 6 July 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
50. Lianne Hart and Elaine Dutka. “This Guy is Driving Hollywood NUTS!” Los Angeles Times. 6 Aug. 1997. Web. 5 Nov. 2011. http://articles.latimes.com/1997/aug/06/entertainment/ca-20007
51. “Obama for America.” Notable Names Database. Soylent Communications. n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
52. Harry Knowles. “Hey Arizona, Don't Fuck With This Mexican... MACHETE has some Cinco De Mayo words for you!!! Now in 720p!” Ain’t it Cool News. Ed. Jeremy Smith. Steadfast Networks, 5 May 2010. Web. 24 Mar 2011.
53. Harry Knowles. “A Family Friendly “Machete?” What do you mean no Race War? & A Secret Frazetta Project?? Exclusive Robert Rodriguez Interview!!” Ain’t it Cool News. Ed. Jeremy Smith. Steadfast Networks, 19 May 2010. Web. 24 Mar 2011.
54. Inglorious Basterds is a fiction film about a team of Jewish American Nazi killers in World War II Germany.
55. Lauren Smiley. “White Nationalist Group To Protest 'Machete' Movie With Machetes This Weekend.” SF Weekly. 31 Aug. 2010. Web. 13 April 2011.
56. Amy di Miceli. "‘Robert Rodriguez Backpedals on His ‘Message to Arizona’." Info Wars. Ed. Kurt Nimmo, Aaron Dykes, Marleigh Jones, and Matt Ryan. Free Speech Systems, LLC, 24 May 2010. Web. 14 Mar 2011.
57. Jones, Alex, and Aaron Dykes. "‘Machete’ producers lied about racist bloodbath ." Prison Planet. Ed. Paul J. Watson, Steve Watson, Kurt Nimmo, and Aaron Dykes. Free Speech Systems, LLC, Sept. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2011.
58. Whether or not a film is overtly racist is subjective, however I personally believe Birth of a Nation is hardly the last overtly racist film.
59. The tax incentives to which he is referring were going to be from Texas for filming there, but were eventually denied, allegedly for portraying Texans in a negative light.
Martin Bartlett. “Texas' denial of incentives to ‘Machete’ likened to censorship.” KVUE 9 Dec 2010. Web. Mar 23 2011.
60. A “reconquista” view or a “reconquer” view of the U.S. refers to the so-called “Aztlan conspiracy” which is based on the literal interpretation of the1969 document the "Plan Espiritual de Aztlan" which argued that Chicanos should “reclaim the land of their birth.” Many nativist groups believe that this is a blueprint for a coming war by Chicanos to “reconquer” the Southwest.
Southern Poverty Law Center. Intelligence Report, Summer 2007, Issue Number: 101.
61. Arturo R. García and Thea Lim. "Table For Two: The Racialicious Review of Machete." Racilicious. Ed. Latoya Peterson and Thea Lim. N.p., 10 Sept. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2011.
62. A Third Culture Kid is according to David C. Pollock, a person who has spent a significant part of [their] developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.” David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken. Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 1999. Print.
63. Chon A. Noriega. “‘Waas sappening?’ Narrative structure and iconography in Born in East L.A.” Keyframes: Popular Cinema and Cultural Studies . Ed. Matthew Tinkcom and Amy Villarejo. New York: Routledge. 2001. Print.
64. To pass the test the film must have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. “Machete 2010.” Bechdel Test Movie List. bechdeltest.com.
65. Throughout the film Torrez is flanked by a silent Asian woman who is sexualized and styled in an Orientalized manner.
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