¡Qué Naco! Popular Mexican Cinema: The Audience and the Nation
Under Contract, SUNY Press
The primary focus of this manuscript is to study popular Mexican films, which proliferated soon after the fall of the “Golden Age” in Mexican cinema. Often referred to as exploitation or border cinema, these Mexican films of the 1970s and 1980s frequently detailed the lives of recent Latina/o immigrants in the United States. Produced primarily for profit, not quality, these films have repeatedly been described as “naco,” or low class, for pandering, as assumed, to its audiences’ baser instincts of simpleminded pleasures and self-indulgences.
In this study, I resemanticize naco cinema and challenge the conventional understanding of a marginal cinema that has been disavowed and derided by dominant critical discourse. I define this popular, entertaining, naco cinema as a transnational art form that has both stimulated identity creation and embodied the recent Latina/o diaspora in the United States a group that is constantly transgressing established boundaries. Hence, while important in many ways, critical discourse on Mexican cinema has been limited to a kind of nationalist framework that has evaluated film in terms of positive nationalist representations or formal and aesthetic “qualities” in ways that have made it difficult to see popular cinemas that depart from or are even antagonistic toward a nationalist gaze. When defining Mexico, particularly in the context of today’s political and economic climate, it is important to examine all aspects of the cultural spectrum, not just the most palatable ones. Naco cinema continues to address the unpleasant realities of the millions of immigrants living on low wages outside of their home countries.
¡Qué Naco! Popular Mexican Cinema and Migrant Audiences
Book Chapter in
Valuing Films: Shifting Perceptions of Worth
ed. Laura Hubner
UK: Palgrave Macmillan Press, Summer
The Naco in Mexican Film: La banda del carro rojo, Border Cinema and Migrant Audiences
Book Chapter in Latsploitation, Exploitation Cinemas, and Latin America
Routledge Press, April