Latino Images in Fast and Furious

Yesterday Mariela and I went to see Fast and Furious. She’s a huge fan of Vin Diesel and I wasn’t about to miss any opportunity to see my homegirl Jordana Brewster on the silver screen (I fell madly in love with her after seeing her as international supercriminal Lucy Diamond in the movie D.E.B.S.). After seeing the film my mind was left spinning, there were so many images of Latinos to digest in Fast and Furious. I could write a book on the subject but I’m just going to break you off with something short and digestible.

The last Vin Diesel movie I saw was A Man Apart and after seeing Fast and Furious I can’t help but wonder if any other actor has been responsible for more on screen deaths of Mexicans than he. Both films have record bodycounts of snarreling Mexican drug dealers and anonymous thugs. Is there anyone who has murdered more Mexicans in their film career?

"I studied at Julliard to land this role as a cholo. The joke's on me!"

Fast and Furious portrays a fascinating swath of Latino images and quickly establishes what are “good” and “bad” Latinos. The “good” Latinos can be found in scenes taking place in the Dominican Republic and Panama. The music, language dialects, landscapes, and women of those countries are fetishized, objectified, and held up as an example of what is ideal and somewhat innocent.

On the other end of the spectrum are Mexicans, both in the United States and Mexico. They are the “bad” side of Latinos, corrupt, ruthless, back-stabbing, and dirty drug dealers. From the unnamed cholo that Paul Walker hunts down and brutalizes in the beginning of the film to the Mexican main villain and his gang of generically evil and greasy henchmen. The audience is pumped-up to cheer every evil Mexican that dies in a fiery car crash or at the end of a bullet fired by Paul Walker.

Personally, the most heartbreaking element of Fast and Furious is that it’s directed by Justin Lin. In the interviews I’ve read with him he has spoken with much self-awareness and acuity on his experiences as an Asian in the film industry. He was a participant in the documentary The Slanted Screen which critically analyzed images of Asian-American men in Hollywood. He even graduated with his masters from UCLA for crying out loud! If there would be anyone who should know better it’s Justin Lin. Fuck!

Shit is racist,

Rio

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