Without its many cultural, linguistic, culinary and blood-ties with Mexico, California might as well be some particularly boring zone of the Midwest. Because of the debate over the issue of economic refugees pouring over a divide described by Octavio Paz as "a scar, not a border," today, May 1st, is marked by USA-wide demonstrations and walk outs on schools and jobs. The activity is meant to draw attention to what one Berkeley street poster called "La Raza sin papeles." A nation without papers...and for that matter, a paperless race that's not just composed of Mexicans or the rest of America's Latinos.

 What does all this have to do with movies? Note that one slogan for the May Day demonstrations is "A Day Without Immigrants"--a reference to Sergio Arau's indie film, A Day Without Mexicans. This no-star 2004 film was a more popular item south of the scar, I mean, border, than it was in the Estados Unidos. In 100 minutes, Arau (a popular cartoonist and artist in Mexico) unfolded a Twilight Zone-style story of a magic fog that cuts California off from the rest of the world. The sinister fog (not unprecedented in the movies) vanishes all Mexicans in the state for one entire day, leaving California to cook its own meals, pick its own oranges, sweep its own trash and change its own oil.

 A Day Without Mexicans is just plain wrong from so many angles. Is it only the dirty jobs that Mexicans do? Not hardly. Californians all over the color spectrum change their own kids' diapers and clean their own kitchens. Yet they still must shout, as I will right now: Put my white self down on that long list of people who don't want to live in a world without Mexico and Mexicans!  But on this day of boycott, note that Arau's film is a hopeful, sentimental fantasy of reconciliation. Despite decades of discrimination, and patronization, there's apparently no such thing as  Mexploitation movies about an angry Mexican getting an AK-47 and going on a blood-curdling payback rampage against anti-immigrant politicians.
categories Movies, Cinematical