I said I wasn’t gonna do it. I did. I said I was gonna leave shit alone and not bother with it because that’s not my bag, baby. That’s your bag! At least that’s what I told myself and here I am holding a goddamned bag. But here I go again, which is also a song…but never mind that for now.
Identity politics is something I wanted to leave behind in 2016. Truly! Why? Because it’s become this festering, toxic shitpile that turns almost anything it touches into, well, festering and toxic shit. I believe it’s partly to blame for landing us in a real-life episode of The Twilight Zone…or the film Idiocracy, depending on how you look at it. But it’s what brings me here today – to you – talking about something few will care about. Why? Because it bugs me.
See, I’d resolved myself to not making a peep in 2017 until something struck me. I’m bored to tears of The Donald Trump Show, which is now on 24/7 ZZzzzzz…so I avoid it. But it didn’t take long to find something to drag me back, and usually when I find it, the sensation is like a rock in your shoe. This, here, is me taking that rock out.
Anyway, what the hell am I babbling about, right? Right. Rest assured, it’s not Trump-related. Whew!
So, I’ve been keeping a low profile here in 2017 and will continue to do so because things are going well. I am in treatment and recovery for the need to puke my every waking thought out on The Social Machine and I’m also busy – that’s enough. I hadn’t planned on making any noise until the new book is done but the rock in my shoe got the better of me.
One of the things I enjoy is horror films and I spend a great amount of time watching them, collecting them and reading about them. It’s pretty much all I watch. The other day I came across a short horror film in production called “The Cholas,” and the title alone piqued my interest. Imagine my complete lack of surprise to find it’s just another parody piece with people playing dress-up.
And let me pause here for a second, because I’m sure many people will be puzzled with the intent of this essay. I’m not a ‘witch hunt’ person. I might have been once but no more. I’m also an advocate for the freedom of speech and expression, so I’m not writing this in an attempt to destroy this film or its creators. Nor am I writing this to harass the filmmakers. I think far too many people who go that route shoot themselves in the foot and only end up promoting the things they rally against.
That said, I am writing this as a critique of the film and of the Hollywood Machine at large, which sees fit to use Chicanos as its favorite low-budget punching bag. Why? To get the fuckin’ rock out of my shoe.
Make no mistake, Chicanos are cheap fodder for Hollywood.
“The Cholas,” as it’s so aptly titled, features a crew of white women dressed up in cheap Halloween store chola costumes playing, well, stereotypical cholas. According to the website More Horror, the tagline for the film reads:
“A group of cholas get a request for an unexpected delivery for an unusual client.”
The film is written/directed by Patricia Chica and is being filmed in Los Angeles. The film stars Tiffany Shepis, Devanny Pinn, Eileen Dietz, Michelle Romano, Tonya Kay, Ivan Sharudo and Philip Friedman…
If I told you that the film was about a group of Black slaves your knee-jerk reaction would be one of shock if you saw that the cast was all-white. However, when Hollywood parodies Chicanas, no one bats an eyelash.
The film also is part of the “Women in Horror Month” celebration. WiHM, according to the website is:
“an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries.”
All well and fine – that’s not what bothered me about this film. What bothered me – as I knew it would – was seeing production photos from the film.
This was the first shot I saw was this:
And then there’s this:
These images are cringe-worthy. They should embarrass the director and anyone connected to this film.
Why? Because they look ridiculous. I mean just look at them! The person in charge of wardrobe and makeup should be fired! The prop person, fired! This is bottom of the barrel stuff here, folks. I mean it when I say it looks like a sorority from Montana walked into a Halloween store and snagged some “chola” costumes for their party. Unreal.
And listen, I’m not here to be the patron saint of cholas and cholos but Geesuz Christ on a bicycle, you’re shooting in freaking LOS ANGELES for fuck’s sake! And you can’t find more suitable actors to portray cholas?! How long did your “research” take? Five minutes on Pinterest? Fuck!
I mean, if a casting call even went out, I can guarantee you that more than a few people showed up who look and ARE the part. Hell, I KNOW people who can fill those roles but I digress. The machine does not work like that and this is just more fodder.
Time and again, Hollywood does this. I’m convinced they get off on it. You would think that they would know better by now. Nope. Whether it’s the tough chica (who is actually white and was spray tanned brown) in Aliens or Sandra Bullock making a joke, Hollywood uses Chicanos as a place to wipe its feet. This is not only offensive it’s bizarre at this point.
The director of this shit show, who is originally from El Salvador by way of Canada, should know better but alas, no. This film is just another in a long line of brown-face buffoonery and shuck and jive horseshit from the land of La La. These actors look like caricatures and clowns and I, for one, cannot wait to hear these people speak their lines.
[INSERT EARTH SHATTERING EYEROLL]
“Wassaaaap, esa? Ehhhhhhh? Joo talkeeng to meee mang?! Joo gotta geeve mee the gun, mang! We gotta do eet it for Johnny, mang!”
And so on. See? I could write for Hollywood! Huzzah!
Every single time I see shit like this I am reminded of Robert Townsend’s film “Hollywood Shuffle,” which I am convinced should be taught in film school. If there is such a thing as ‘Black Acting School’ (as hilariously depicted in the film), then there should be a Mexican Acting School as well.
Wanna learn how to play a chola? A gardener? A spicy Latina? A tough as nails prison con?? Come to Mexican Acting School where you will learn all the tricks!
Patricia Chica’s film looks like it belongs as a skit in Townsend’s, which is probably giving it too much credit. Townsend’s film is a work of genius whereas Chica’s is just another embarrassing notch in the belt for parodying Chicanos on screen.
And to be quite honest with you, no one will care. It’s a non-issue and this is a low budget short film that no one knows about and will be met by mild applause from an echo chamber of even more clueless people. So why bother?
I only mention this film because others won’t and because it bugs the shit out of me when I see things like this…because I’ve seen them my whole life. And I say this as someone who thumbs their nose at being politically correct! That’s not what this is about.
Truth be told, I’ve made fun of the “we’re a culture not a costume” movement and I think it’s ridiculous that people want to police what others wear. In my day, we simply punched people who did that shit in our faces but I digress. I also don’t mean to say that only certain people should make films about certain cultures. But goddamn it, if you’re gonna do it, do it right!
I’m mocking this film because it deserves mockery for being so brazenly absurd and clownish. And LAZY! Like comedian Chris Rock said, you have to try not to hire Mexicans in your films in Hollywood. Rock’s point was not original but it was amplified due to his popularity. It struck a chord, even though we’ve been saying this same thing for decades now. Still, nothing changes.
I published Lowriting in an attempt to portray lowrider and Chicana/o culture in a positive light and was successful in doing that. Nine point nine times out of ten, we get portrayed as clowns, so I took it upon myself to try and counter that. I also published an essay by actor Del Zamora in ¡Ban This! about the lack of Chicanos in Hollywood, so I’m not new to this issue and take offense when I see the opposite being done and by outsiders at that.
Again, I’m not advocating to ban this film or anything like that. Take this as a teachable moment. If any of the crew happens to read this, this is for you: It’s 2017 and we’re still dressing up white people as extras in Hollywood Shuffle.
Hollywood is largely irrelevant these days, full of elites preaching to their own choirs about the inequalities of this or that, but it’s interesting how some things never change. For whatever reason, Chicano culture remains the favorite low budget punching bag of Hollywood and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.
You would think, with current demographics, that things would change but you’d be wrong. Then again, with President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho at the helm, anything is possible…
Anyway, I feel better now. The rock is out of my shoe and I give it to you to do with what you wish. Thanks for reading.