It is a commentary on much of 21st century life that one of the strongest role models for social roles and behavior come from movies and television,rather than from community and family. Regarding gender terms,and social roles being influenced by movies: I remember how in the late 1940s, as a child I liked to attend “Mexican movies night” (actually all sorts of Spanish language motion pictures) at the (then recently desegregated theater) near my home town in Southern California.
Unlike generally quiet audience behavior for many of the theater’s films in English, there was plenty of audience commentary in Spanish to accompany the action. Villains were soundly booed and hissed at. Cheers,applause and whistling often accompanied behavior deemed admirable behavior in a film.
I was especially interested in films related to the Mexican revolution,because my grandparents,and many neighborhood elders had survived it.
I can remember being impressed by a film about the Mexican revolution, starring (I think) Jorge Negrete and Maria Felix.
In a scene in that film the male lead and his female counterpart were flirting. He bragged something along the lines of being a strong and virile male, muy macho (very masculine), and a man of his word. That was greeted by mostly male gritos and whistles of approval from the audience.
Not to be out done, she proudly replied that she was “muy hembra.” Very much a woman,which also was understood by all in the audience that she was interested in him, but not one to be “pushed around,” nor taken lightly. Then,the audience gave cheers of approval.
In many of the motion pictures of “Mexican night” there was admittedly a lot of what some current reviewers might think of as overly sentimental,and romanticized portrayals of stoicism in the face of danger and adversity.
Many of those Spanish language movies had a culturally motivated, values focus on devotion to duty, family, faith and honor,where even the humblest of individuals could be respected for such virtues.
Undoubtedly my retrospective perspective of such cinematic efforts,and the values they represented are nostalgic. But,I believe that those earlier films which often served as role models for impressionable youngsters were superior to those of later years.
Those early motion pictures, often supported and embodied cultural,social and civic virtues which seem to me and many others to be far superior to those of many later movies.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I find it sad that many movie role models feature the denigration, and objectifying of women,a lack of respect for life to the extent that a drive by shooting which can result in the deaths of innocents,including babies brings callous laughter and cheers from an audience.
And there are movies where a sick glorifying of a twisted masculinity, and supposedly being a real man as that of being the meanest bully in the neighborhood are somehow a more superior art form. I seriously wonder if it is not those twisted values which contribute to self inflicted, genocidal, barrio warfare as something worthy of aspiring to.
Maybe someday we will have those who are strong and brave enough to truly be “Old School”, muy “macho” and muy “hembra” to provide more positive movie role models for impressionable youngster to aspire to.
Copyright 2018 by Gilbert Chavez. All film art card graphics used under the “fair use” proviso of the copyright law.