Jennifer Lopez, actress, singer, and a whole host of other things, stars as Lauren Adrian in the 2006 drama, Bordertown. Lauren, a journalist, is sent on assignment to Juarez city by George Morgan (Martin Sheen), editor of The Chicago Sentinel, to do a story on the missing and murdered women of Juarez. Initially she was not interested in doing the story. Lauren is so disconnected from her Mexican heritage that she could barely speak any Spanish, an argument that she uses as a reason why she wasn’t qualified to do the story. However, she struck a deal with Mason for a foreign correspondent position in return for the story.
The other co-star is Antonio Banderas. Banderas stars as Alphonso Diaz, editor of the embattled Sol de Juarez newspaper, located in Juarez, Mexico. Since Alphonso and Lauren had worked together in the past, she went in search of him and convinced him to partner with her. Unfortunately, later on in the movie Alphonso died from a drive by shooting while he was in his office. He did not get to see the results of his labor.
I decided to write on this movie because of several points that it brings forth. The first is Lauren Adrian’s return to her roots. As stated earlier, not only was she not interested in doing a story on injustice in her country, and doesn’t speak much Spanish, but her hair was dyed blond. The fact that a Mexicana has blond hair is not significant in of itself. There are many Latinas of various nationalities that have blond hair naturally, or have dyed it that color simply because they like it. However, it is significant here because there is a point in the movie where she stopped dyeing her hair. This, I believe, symbolizes a “coming to terms with her heritage” moment.
Lauren’s break-off from her roots, while chasing the “American dream,” portrays the identity crisis that many young Latinos, and other foreigners in some sense, experience when they migrate to this country. They come into a world at odds with them because of their accent, perhaps, their non-European features and skin color, and their culture. To avoid this, and also to enhance their chances at a career, some that can pass off as whites decided that since it is profitable to do so, why not. The success of many Latinos in the last 30-40 years, in all sectors, has contributed greatly to the optimism of the young. A hero that looks like you, goes a long way.
Depiction of an American Journalist
Internationally speaking, because of the United States’ military might, American journalists have greater opportunities then others. Sure there is more money flowing through our news networks and papers then most places (not to mention, freedom of the press), but it is what it is. How this came about doesn’t matter. What matters is that it opens the door for reporting that can be catalysts for activist movements, or even stir up the international community to do something.
In the movie, this is evident in the way Lauren is treated when she arrives in Juarez. The story that she wrote on a young woman that was raped and then buried, an incident that happens often in Juarez, caused a stir. All the snakes came out of the grass. When articles are written on the rape and murdered of women, bad working conditions, and low wages in factories, big business (or government) tries as much as it can to either disassociate itself from the story or kill it. In this case, the news network was connected to the factory in question. So they killed it. But the power of American journalist was clearly displayed. The story would never have reached that far without an American.
Movies Speaking on Issues
Most of the information that we receive on issues, such as human rights violations, usually come from newspaper articles and documentaries. However, movies, though not attempting to be factual, have always been in the runnings. Today, they may be able to play pivotal roles in bringing attention to human rights issues. Why? Because movies have a way of appealing to the masses like nothing else. Seen all the sights and sounds of a story on the big screen bring emotions that transcends, in intensity, literature or the simple stating of facts.
Image Credits: Lorey Sebastian. ©2005 Bordertown Productions Inc.