Wilkomen, meine Freundinnen und Freunde, to another edition of “Hollywood, What Were You Thinking?” also known as “Whitewashing,” where we watch white actors embarrass themselves, and us, as they try to play non-white characters. This week, we move to an example of the “gang movie” oeuvre of the 70’s, with Robby “Sure, I Can Play That” Benson playing a Chicano gang member from 1970’s East L.A. Because sure, if he can play a Native American, a Hassic Jew, and a Disney animated Beast, why can’t he play a Mexican-American? Just slap some skin-darkening makeup on him, shove some brown contact lenses into his eyes and have him do an accent that would make Speedy Gonzalez wince and Robby’s good to go! Not that this movie is devoid of Mexican-American actors! It’s just that nobody thought that the lead should be played by one of them. Meet Emilio, a member of the Aztecas gang, navigating his way through the world, trying to figure out who he is, all while falling for an Anglo girl who is desperately looking for a personality. Does Robby rise above this incredibly awkward casting? Is the story enough to make you stop wondering why Robby has blue eyes in one movie and brown eyes in this one? Hop into your big car, low to the ground, and drive up and down the boulevard with us, all day and all night!
Poll question: actually, this is a compound question, containing several sub-questions, because we don’t take the easy way here at Max, Mike; Movies! When you go to the movies, in actual theater (remember those?), do you get snacks or no snacks? Booze or no booze? Do you run for a bathroom break in the middle, or wait? We need to know!
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