Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Federales as the Good Guys

Televisa has a new show out about the life of a Federal Police officer called El Equipo. I haven’t seen the show, but I suspect that, in keeping with telenovela norms, it has all the subtlety of a pro wrestling match. That (I presume), coupled with the openly pro-government take, has led to reactions like the following, from Jenaro Villamil:
The slogan of the telenovela El Equipo leaves no doubt as to its being a production that documents the heroic version of President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Genaro García Luna himself want to prevail regarding the war against organized crime: “they know that good defeats evil”.
The benefit of this show isn’t that it promotes Calderón’s view of the war on drugs, but rather that it shows the government as the good guys, unequivocally. I can’t think of a single recent show or movie that has come down as pro-government --not pro-Calderón, but pro-government in the abstract. I can think of dozens where the government’s corruption was a central feature of the plot. The small and big screen’s treatment of the government doesn’t get any better than agnostic. El Equipo may be a bunch of nonsense propaganda as a dramatic work (though hopefully not), but the widespread sense that government can be a force for good, even on security matters, is missing in Mexico, and TV and movies can do a lot to address that.

Of course, I also firmly believe there is a role for narrative that seeks to depict the other side, and I don’t see it as an apology for criminality.

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