Border Bandits

Border Bandits

CAMILLA FOJAS
Copyright Date: 2008
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/718623
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  • Book Info
    Border Bandits
    Book Description:

    The southern frontier is one of the most emotionally charged zones in the United States, second only to its historical predecessor and partner, the western frontier. Though they span many genres, border films share common themes, trace the mood swings of public policy, and shape our cultural agenda.

    In this examination, Camilla Fojas studies how major Hollywood films exploit the border between Mexico and the United States to tell a story about U.S. dominance in the American hemisphere. She charts the shift from the mythos of the open western frontier to that of the embattled southern frontier by offering in-depth analyses of particular border films, from post-World War II Westerns to drug-trafficking films to contemporary Latino/a cinema, within their historical and political contexts.

    Fojas argues that Hollywood border films do important social work by offering a cinematic space through which viewers can manage traumatic and undesirable histories and ultimately reaffirm core "American" values. At the same time, these border narratives delineate opposing values and ideas.

    Latino border films offer a critical vantage onto these topics; they challenge the presumptions of U.S. nationalism and subsequent cultural attitudes about immigrants and immigration, and often critically reconstruct their Hollywood kin.

    By analyzing films such asDuel in the Sun, The Wild Bunch, El Norte, The Border, Traffic,andBrokeback Mountain,Fojas demands that we reexamine the powerful mythology of the Hollywood borderlands. This detailed scrutiny recognizes that these films are part of a national narrative comprised of many texts and symbols that create the myth of the United States as capital of the Americas.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79408-5
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-x)
    Camilla Fojas
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION WELCOME TO THE ALAMO; HOLLYWOOD ON THE BORDER
    (pp. 1-26)

    On January 26, 2006, the United States Border Patrol, working with agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, discovered what many claim was the largest and most sophisticated cross-border tunnel to date. Information about this tunnel quickly hit the headlines with news flashes engineered to elicit fears about the hydra of villainy: drug traffickers, “illegal” immigrants, and terrorists. The 2,400-foot tunnel grabbed attention for its infrastructure and amenities; fortified with concrete, it boasted electric lights, a ventilation system, groundwater pumping, and was fully equipped with a pulley system for the rapid transit of “drugs and other contraband.”¹ The tunnel was described...

  6. ONE HOW THE SOUTHWEST WAS WON; BORDER WESTERNS AND THE SOUTHERN FRONTIER
    (pp. 27-82)

    The western frontier has always been a defining symbol of the United States, signifying the wide and open range and the opportunity to settle new territories where the only hindrance to this forward expansion is the hostile and bloodthirsty Indian and the Mexican bandit. The frontier is a repository of these and other romantic legends of the Old West. James Folsom calls it the “intangible” but very real marker of difference between the new republic and its European predecessors.¹ Frederick Jackson Turner’s lecture at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” was...

  7. TWO “THE IMAGINARY ILLEGAL ALIEN”; HOLLYWOOD BORDER CROSSERS AND BUDDY COPS IN THE 1980s
    (pp. 83-108)

    Hollywood films from the 1980s are so distinctive that we can identify them immediately, partly for their aesthetic but mostly for their mood, reassuring tone, and stories with clear moral lessons. These kinds of films provide familiar repetitions of similar stories and formulaic genres in the midst of cultural unrest and political uncertainty.¹ The 1980s were an era of major transformations: increased immigration and transit across the border, the consolidation of globalization, military defense build-up, the waning of the cold war, and the U.S.-backed wars in Central America. It was a time troubled by the recent past of the Vietnam...

  8. THREE THE “NARC” IN ALL OF US; BORDER MEDIA AND THE WAR ON DRUGS
    (pp. 109-144)

    On February 10, 1986, just two months before Reagan signed a national security directive designating international drug trade a national security threat, Elliott Abrams, then assistant secretary for inter- American affairs and in 2005 appointed deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, gave the talk, “Drug Wars: The New Alliances against Traffickers and Terrorists,” before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. Abrams hoped to move the “drug problem” from the cultural realm of television news programs and Friday night dramas to the more serious domain of international policy as it comes to bear on national...

  9. FOUR URBAN FRONTIERS; BORDER CINEMA AND THE GLOBAL CITY
    (pp. 145-182)

    In March 2006, Angelinos staged the largest demonstration in the history of the city against a bill that would further demonize undocumented immigrants and those who granted them employment, and build a fortress-like wall along the border. The whole nation focused its gaze upon the city as various news programs turned their attention to the issue of immigration and the borderlands. Los Angeles became the epicenter of the immigration debate not only for its large Latino population and its employment in the shadow of the Hollywood media industry, but for its proximity to another mythological construction, the border between the...

  10. CONCLUSION: FRONTIER MYTHS ON THE LINE; BORDER CINEMA REDUX
    (pp. 183-196)

    Since the beginnings of cinema, Hollywood has depicted the U.S-Mexico border as a lawless place ruled by a dark mythology, and home to every illicit activity and industry. The cultural connotations of the borderlands are endless, from lacuna, fringe, outskirts, aporia, abyss, gap, or lapse in meaning to horizon, threshold, and boundary; borders suggest limits—the end and beginning of things or the edge to which you take things before the risk turns to crisis or sanity to madness. Crossing the dividing line calls forth what Jacques Lacan has called the “jouissance of transgression,” or the limit experience in the...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 197-210)
  12. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 211-216)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 217-226)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 227-236)