There are plenty of reasons to hate the movie We’re the Millers, starting with Jennifer Aniston’s striptease in a bra and panties set that looks like a little girl’s idea of what’s sexy. Aniston is toned but dances like a robot. Plus, what bad guy with a gun would let any stripper keep her underwear on?
Oh, and how about that Frankenstein of a security guard with the metal teeth guarding the gates of the drug cartel compound? I kept expecting him to say, “You rang?” in the bass monotone of Ted Cassidy playing Lurch on the original Addams Family.
But I digress. The real reason I hated We’re the Millers is because it’s just one more stupid example of Mexico-bashing in the media. For God’s sake. Is there really no other country where bad things can happen to stupid tourists?
Full disclosure: I don’t have a drop of Mexican blood in me. Nor do I live in Mexico. However, I spent my first six years of life in Mexico City, and since then I have returned to Mexico to teach school and to take several vacations. I set part of my new novel, The Wishing Hill, in Mexico because I wish I could be there more than I am.
Even that little bit of time in Mexico has been enough for me to see that, while certain areas of big Mexican cities are best avoided, just like certain areas of New York City or Detroit, there is a lot more to Mexico than whatever we see in movies and on TV. It breaks my heart that people who don’t have the privilege of traveling to Mexico see only this monochrome, grimy view of the place.
I had much higher hopes for The Bridge, the newest television show with a Mexican setting. The acting is phenomenal, the cinematography is captivating, the story line about a lesbian reporter being banned from the house by her religious mother is creative, and there are moments of brilliant, Breaking Badish-dark comedy. However, in this show we once again have to suffer through a Mexico where everybody is killing each other over drugs or raping anything in a skirt.
Is this really the best we can do, O Gods and Goddesses of Entertainment? Is there not one filmmaker or television producer out there who’s savvy and creative enough to set a story in Mexico that has nothing to do with drugs?
Mexico has been a cultural mecca for 500 years, and many cities in the U.S. have higher crime rates than even its biggest cities. While most U.S. tourists visit only Mexican beach resorts, the truth is that inland Mexico is rich in culture and natural resources—so much so, that a recent story in the New York Times reported on the new wave of immigration to Mexico from other, more economically and culturally stagnant countries, including the United States and many countries in Europe. Oh, and did I mention national health care? Mexico sorted that out long before we did.
So enough with the Mexico bashing. Let’s use our imaginations, people, and write a movie or a TV show set in Mexico that shows the country for what it is: a complex, culturally diverse land of opportunity that, at the moment, is attracting everyone from entrepreneurial business owners to artists seeking a better life in a country that welcomes new energy and ideas.