Tag: Robert Rodriguez

WTF, Indeed

Yes, that was me driving down Sunset Boulevard while listening to a podcast on grammar. I was keepin’ it real.

Although I’m usually blaring an audio book, I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts, which I know puts me behind the curve, but who’s keeping track of such things?

In any case, I tuned into a few episodes of Marc Maron’s WTF. I listened to the much-hyped interview with President Obama (very cool to hear the leader of the free world in a relaxed setting) and also tuned into the Robert Rodriguez interview (that guy is a one-man Latino empire).

But for me, the most intense moment of my WTF crash course was Maron’s interview with Sir Ian McKellen.


I’m a big fan, of course. In fact, if I had to have my life narrated, I would choose his voice to do the honors.

McKellen ended his interview by performing a Shakespearan monologue. And he didn’t go with an old favorite like Richard III’s opening speech or King Lear’s crazy talk.

No, he picked an obscure passage from Thomas More (not really a Shakespeare play) that was all about… wait for it… immigration.

I have to believe that someone has socially conscious as McKellen did not pick this speech by accident.

As others have pointed out, McKellen “managed to make a strong moral point, important to the current social and political situation… merely by doing what he is most famous for, reciting Shakespeare beautifully.”

Here is the beginning of McKellen’s monologue:

Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,

Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,

And that you sit as kings in your desires,

Authority quite silent by your brawl.


It goes on, asking the listener what he would do if he had to leave his country:

As but to banish you, whether would you go?

What country, by the nature of your error,

Should give you harbor?


And it ends in breathtakingly powerful fashion:

Would you be pleased

To find a nation of such barbarous temper,

That, breaking out in hideous violence,

Would not afford you an abode on earth,

Whet their detested knives against your throats,

Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God

Owed not nor made not you, nor that the elements

Were not all appropriate to your comforts,

But chartered unto them, what would you think

To be thus used? This is the stranger’s case;

And this is your mountanish inhumanity.


Now That’s Violent

We’ve heard the stories. The border with Mexico is out of control. Mayhem is spilling over into America’s cities. Recently, illegal immigrants murdered an Arizona rancher. What more evidence do you need?

The escalating violence is a big reason that most Americans support Arizona’s new anti-immigration law. However, perhaps they would not be so enthusiastic if it were better publicized that “law officers on the state’s border report that claims of epidemic drug violence in their jurisdictions are overblown.”

Yes, despite all the political posturing, some Arizona cops say “the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure” and that despite increased violence in Mexico, “there is remarkably little spillover” in Arizona, where overall violent crime has actually dropped in recent years.

And as tragic as the death of Robert Krentz is, the Border Patrol says, “the slain rancher is the only American suspected to have been killed by an illegal immigrant in the Tucson sector in at least a decade.”

Does this mean that we have nothing to fear from Mexico’s worsening crime situation? Well, that’s a shaky conclusion.

The better question, however, is whether cynical politicians are playing to their base, exaggerating threats, terrifying their constituents, and targeting an ethnic minority to serve as rallying cry and scapegoat… but come on, what are the odds of that farfetched scenario?

Regardless, the inability of Americans to distinguish real violence from horrifying anecdote has been pointed out before. For those who need a primer, however, director Robert Rodriguez has stepped in.

I’m a fan of Rodriguez’s films, which include “From Dusk Til Dawn,” “Sin City” and “Desperado.” His latest, “Machete” is unlikely to be confused with a Merchant-Ivory production. It answers the cinematic question “What happens when you fuck with the wrong Mexican?” To see the mythical “illegal” trailer, check this out. Otherwise, you can see the original below. Regardless of which version you watch, I think you’ll agree it’s unlikely that we’ll ever reach this level of cross-border violence.

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