Podcasts on migration, asylum and border crossing

The following are a selection of podcasts that help understand migrant issues, asylum seeking and border crossing. Some look at the macro and others consider individual stories.

 

Immigration and Asylum

Bureaucratic war cracking down on immigration and asylum seekers to the US “Let Me Count the Ways”, This American Life, 14 September 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/656/let-me-count-the-ways

A case study of a poultry town, precarious employment, and migration: “Our Town the Economists Report”, This American Life, 8December 2017, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/extras/our-town-the-economists-report

How it is complex to expel individuals: “Send in the Gowns”,This American Life, 19 January 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/636/i-thought-it-would-be-easier/act-one-2

How an image of Spanish-African border in Melilla was used by Trump: “Melilla, Mexico and Trump”, This American Life, 21 March 2018,  https://www.thisamericanlife.org/extras/melilla-mexico-and-trump

*The high price of PTSD: “A la distancia”, Radio Ambulante, 28 November 2011, http://radioambulante.org/audio/a-la-distancia

Crossing the Guatemalan-Mexican border and the awareness of the nature of privileged border-crossing: “El vacío”, Radio Ambulante, 10 January 2017, http://radioambulante.org/audio/el-vacio

The challenge of border crossing: “The Port of Entry”, Latino USA, 31 July 2018, https://latinousa.org/2018/07/31/theportofentry/

 

Child migration and separation of children from their parents

Valeria Luiselli “The Questionnaire”, This American Life, 6 October 2017, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/627/suitable-for-children/act-three

*Numbers of child migrants in detention and their consequences: “Tolerancia cero”, Radio Ambulante, 22 June 2018 http://radioambulante.org/audio/tolerancia-cero

Family separation: “Torn Apart I: Sign Here”, Latino USA, 14 August 2018, https://latinousa.org/2018/08/14/tornapart1signhere/

Parents trying to stay as close as possible to their children: “We Keep the Walls Between Us as We Go”, This American Life, 16 March 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/641/the-walls/act-two-10

*Why young people are leaving Honduras: “No es país para jovenes”, Radio Ambulante, 27 February 2018, http://radioambulante.org/audio/no-es-pais-para-jovenes

Parents trying to find out the truth of their children’s disappearance in Long Island. It considers the way young people get caught up in violence committed by the MS13 gang and the consequence if “under- and over-policing Latinos” : “The Runaways”, This American Life, 21 September 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/657/the-runaways 

 

Violence

*The dangers of being a journalist in Mexico: “Fue el estado”, Radio Ambulante, 23 January 2018, http://radioambulante.org/audio/fue-el-estado

 

*Poppy farming and its consequences on those who live among it: “Flor del diablo”, Radio Ambulante, 7 March 2017, http://radioambulante.org/audio/la-flor-del-diablo

 

*Programmes by Radio Ambulante have transcripts in Spanish, some also have transcripts in English.

Screen Violence: A Reflection

I recently blogged about how war photographs are used as a way of efficient storytelling in a Portuguese film (http://www.niamhthornton.net/death-on-film-how-far-can-you-go/). In response to that I had some interesting discussions on Twitter and a decision with Fiona Noble to write blog posts on our shared interest in screen violence. In the process of writing we have read drafts of each others blogs and, therefore, this post is written in dialogue with her post.

Surprisingly, despite the prevalence of violence on screen there is relatively little written about it in academia and popular discourse tends to engage with violence on screen in relation to its explicitness or appropriateness for particular audiences. It is impossible to speculate on why there’s such an absence. As a consequence, it is a difficult topic to approach.

Recently, at a departmental presentation on my research I mapped out some of the theories and methods I have found that have helped me write about film violence and, more recently, the challenges I have encountered when reflecting on the topic of the representation of rape on screen. I share the link here: http://prezi.com/ye6vp7kxewvx/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share. This gives a sense of what is available and the multidisciplinary borrowings that I have made in order to approach the topic, specifically in relation to Mexican film. It also points to a strange and curious aspect of writing about screen violence, it is often viscerally present and demands attention, yet is often overlooked in favour of other elements of the film’s aesthetic, technical and narrative concerns. For that reason I called my talk “The Ineffability of Violence”.

This semester I am completing two pieces of long form writing, one a chapter and the other an article. The first is on Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, 2013), the second on two films set in Juárez, northern Mexico, The Virgin of Juarez (Kevin James Dobson, 2006) and Bordertown (Gregory Nava, 2006). All are violent films, but in very different ways.

Battle of Hong Kong, Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim is a summer blockbuster intended for a family audience and the violence is as spectacle, mostly played out between large dinosaur beasts called Kaiju and equally large robots operated by people, called Jaeger. There are some deaths, human and Kaiju. The Kaiju deaths are successes and the human deaths are not dwelt upon as spectacle, they are part of the collateral damage and sacrifice necessary to protect the earth, although there is often a sense of loss. The dead disappear into the depths of the ocean or amidst the wreckage of the machine or city. We do not see much blood except on some of the wounded. This is violence used create a sense of drama and peril, and, most importantly to thrill and entertain.

In both The Virgin of Juarez and Bordertown death is central to the narrative, as they focus on the stories of two of the thousands of women who have been raped, beaten and left for dead in the border city. As a result, the violence is shown in a way that is intended to shock and appall the viewer, to incite action and a visceral response. We see the victims’ bodies, their resistance to attack, the violence directed at them, and their terrible injuries. There are also other elements in the narrative whose function it is to build on this sense of horror and righteous anger at what is taking place, which I shall write about in my article. But because the violence is there as self-consciously representational and is enacted against women, it has a very particular place in film language and has a very different function to that which can be seen in Pacific Rim. This violence is clearly not intended to entertain.

Attack scene in Bordertown

It is for this reason that it is difficult to talk about film violence as if it were something homogenous and coherent as a label, and often why it’s necessary to approach each film from a new place. There is still a need for greater discussion of film violence to help map out the terrain and build up a language in which we can move beyond thinking about it in terms of pure spectacle and only engaging with it at its extremes.

 

Music, stars and racialised bodies

Today, I am going to Maynooth to give a paper called “Who Made You the Centre of the Universe? Stardom and Racialized Bodies on the Borderland” to a group of Masters’ students and staff at the Hispanic studies department. The title is inspired by a line from a Laura Mvula song, “That’s Alright”. In this song, she says: I’ll never be what you want/and that’s alright,/cos my skin aint light and my body aint tight”. This is very pertinent to my discussion which compares the star performances of Minnie Driver in The Virgin of Juarez and Jennifer Lopez in Bordertown. Both were released in 2006, are set in Juarez, Northern Mexico and have feminicide/femicide as central elements in their respective plots. Mvula is explicitly drawing attention to the racialised discourse around bodies, where white bodies are contained and having “a sense of separation and boundedness” (Dyer, 152) and black and brown (read Latina, here) bodies bear a thrilling, exotic excess. Mvula is owning her curves, the indicators of this lack of boundedness. This is a project I’ll be writing more about over the next few months.

In addition to Mvula’s song, I have also come across other apposite songs which resonate with this project. They are by Mexican female rappers responding to the drug-related violence in Mexico. These are, “Puta guerra” [Fucking War] by Zapatillas de la calle and “Ninguna guerra en mi nombre” [No war in My Name] by Batallones Femeninos. Some information in Spanish about the Batallones Femeninos and the lyrics for this song can be found here. These songs are powerful responses to the recent violence and act as valuable counterpoint to the narcocorridos which are often celebratory of violence.

What I’m Talking About when I Write About Women and Mexicans*

I wrote a blog on Mexicans as Violent Narcos in Breaking Bad some weeks ago, but felt uneasy about it afterwards.  I felt a similar sense of unease about an earlier post about Miss Bala. This was further sparked after listening to some vodcasts by Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency. Here, I hope to tease out this unease.

I must preface my comments by saying that I am not a Sarkeesian hater, she has been victim of enough vile treatment online, and I have used some of her videos in class, particularly the one on the Bechdel Test and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (which also served as a starting point for an earlier blog), both of which are clear and illuminating. As I listened to/watched two vodcasts on The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012) and True Grit (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2010), I was gnawed by a sense of disquiet. She is, as ever, articulate, makes a clear argument and provides supporting visual evidence, making reference to a wider context of women’s representation in Hollywood. My problem lies in the conclusion that both films are poor representations of women because the women succumb to violence and that they cannot therefore be feminist films if women are violent.  In other words, there are right and wrong ways of being a woman.

I don’t wish to suggest that Sarkeesian is unnuanced in her approach (she is not), nor is she rigid in her thinking, but, there is a feeling that these films perforce fail unless the female characters do not espouse a peaceful alternative to violence or demonstrate the real felt consequences it has on them personally. Let’s be clear, Sarkeesian does not just expect this of female characters, for her, men should act this way too. Whilst I agree with her in real life, I largely espouse pacifist politics and see war as a pointless exercise, that is not how I feel about films. I enjoy watching violence. That is, particular types of violence performed on screen. My taste is more towards the war film end of the spectrum (as a glance at this website would attest to) than anything involving vicarious torture thrills. My difficulty is when it is suggested that real life and on screen fiction should cohere, and with the idea that there is a list of how things should be and anything falling short of that is wrong.  Again, I don’t want to be unfair to Sarkeesian. She frequently nuances her analysis with exceptions, possible other readings of films, and qualifies her assessments where necessary.  My unease with this model is the implication that there is a right and a wrong way of making films when measured according to certain standards, and that my contributions could have given the impression that I believe this to be the case.

In my blog on Miss Bala I know that when you start talking about the representation of women it is an easy trap, and one that I had to carefully negotiate in my first book when looking at how women writers wrote about other women’s experiences in the Mexican Revolution. There is a danger of falling into essentialism (how do women act?/what is the way they should be represented?) based on some reductive biological/social reasoning. Us women are a heterogenous bunch, and being a woman may have particular characteristics dependent on multiple factors too many to exhaustively list, such as, class, racial identity, education, family, citizenship, and so on. It is difficult not to get tied up in knots when trying to articulate the flaws in representation when you see them. I hope it was clear that was where I was coming from in my Miss Bala post.  My feminism is not a tickbox exercise, but when I see a pattern of representation being clearly repeated to no positive end, I want to point it out. I want to see films where a woman is not just a thing or a facile trope, as is the case in Miss Bala, but can be a fully-fleshed-out character.

The difficulty in talking about certain figures on screen who have been repeatedly mis-represented, such as women, and, indeed, Mexicans, too much space can be taken up with defending the method and the aim gets lost.  I’m sure Sarkeesian faces a similar dilemma, and looking at her outputs as a whole it is possible to discern that she has a keen understanding of the mediascape in which she is articulating her position. So, maybe this can be taken as my position blog that justifies future analyses of weak or poor portrayals of certain groupings.

I have also been reading two books that helped me work through the dilemma of how to write about Mexicans, in particular. It is very tempting to get equally caught up in a debate about what is good and bad representation. Is Speedy Gonzalez bad, because he is an exceptional witty and lively Mexican in a town of lackadaisical, unambitious and sleepy compatriots? But, what of the appropriation of this character by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, the spokesperson of the Chiapan rebellion. Is the character Gloria (Sofía Vergara, I know she is Colombian) from Modern Family regressive as a Latina bombshell? Or, can she be claimed as a complex nuanced character, as  many other similar characters/actors have been by respected theorists such as, Stephanie Dennison, Lisa Shaw, Ann Davies, and others.

The first of these books is Badmen, Bandits, and Folk Heroes: The Ambivalence of Mexican American Identity in Literature and Film by Juan J. Alonzo (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2009). Given the focus of his book, Alonzo evidently addresses the representation of Mexicans in US film and literature. He draws on Homi K. Bhabha’s work on stereotypes and states that,

“rather than seeing images as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, we should examine instead the ambivalent points of attraction and revulsion within representations of Mexican identity. By emphasizing the ways in which the stereotype’s anxious repetitions reveal the impossibility of a fixed or original identity, we begin to understand that the stereotype is a construct, part of a representational apparatus” (2009, 2).

This teases out the difficulties of engaging with stereotypes or representations of certain figures, and the development of his argument in the introductory chapter is a helpful way into thinking about stereotypes as “an ambivalent and vacillating form of discourse” (6). His idea of vacillation in the stereotype is a useful approach and one which resonates with Nestor García Canclini’s consideration of heterogeneity in the popular in his Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).

The second book, Dolores Tierney Emilio Fernández: Pictures in the Margins (Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 2012), draws on a wide variety of critics, in particular the work of Canclini, Jesús Martín Barbero and Carlos Monsiváis, to question the usual approach to reading the work of Emilio Fernández’s oeuvre, the director, actor, and model for the Oscar statuette (I kid you not). He has been seen to be the embodiment of Mexican masculinity and an exemplar of mestizo (mixed race) Mexican identity, and, previously, his work (especially that of the 1930s-50s) has been read as exemplary auteurist works. In order to interrogate this, Tierney considers how to reconsider his othering in both his Hollywood and Mexican appearances. As “el indio” [the Indian], his nickname which works as a “peripheralizing strategy” (2012, 60), he is reduced to his ethnicity. Previous readings of his on screen roles serve to essentialise him as either the dangerous Mexican (in Hollywood – think of his performance in The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)), noble savage (in his roles as an indigenous man in Mexican film), or dangerous other (in both). By breaking with earlier readings of Fernández’s work as director and actor, Tierney’s text is an accomplished example of how to write about the representation of the other.

These texts provide models for exploring the typical, stereotypical, and to negotiate a way through the quagmire of how to talk/write about women and Mexicans in future blogs and long-form writing. It also reminds me of the limitations of blogging. It is short form (although this one is longer than most), and academic writing is largely long-form (usually minimum 5,000 words). Therefore, there is only so much that can be said and qualified, something that we academics know is often necessary. I hope that my readers will understand that I recognise the knottiness of this idea of good/bad representation, and that I will try to nuance my writing accordingly without stretching their patience. This is a blog. My views will seem abrupt and off-the-cuff, and I will express things inelegantly, at times, and reserve the right to revisit and amend where necessary. I am also keen to keep working through how and what I talk about when I write about women and Mexicans.**

*The title is inspired by this article: http://www.film.com/movies/female-directors-ramsay

**I wish to add an addendum to this blog. I am aware that on re-reading my Breaking Bad blog I realised that it was hampered by the unease that I am talking about here, and it became rather baggy and lost direction. I think that it might benefit from some longer reflection in the future, or perhaps, a second go.  I have decided to leave it up as is in order to show my process in action, which should impel me to do something, as my academic ego will not be happy with the loose and disordered and will serve to push me to action.

Mexicans as Violent Narcos in Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a high quality drama created by Vince Gilligan which follows the story of Walt (Bryan Cranston) who, when diagnosed with lung cancer, decides to become a methamphetamine cook. This decision is justified through the lack of affordability of medical care in the US, a highly politicized topic there. As a chemistry teacher and car wash worker with a stay-at-home pregnant wife (Anna Gunn) and a son (RJ Mitte) with Cerebral Palsy, neither his health insurance nor his income can cover decent medical care. As well as paying for healthcare, he also expresses a desire to amass sufficient money to leave his family financially secure. The plotting is careful and his turn to violent and dangerous criminality is not instant, but a gradual process shown as a series of responses to developing situations as well as an emerging psychological process.  The narrative arc reveals itself over the course of the 5 series with cleverly placed hints throughout of the character’s development. It is quite brilliant in its exploration of the how and why that the gerund “breaking” suggests.  That is, Breaking Bad explores what makes a person turn and how they can go from being a calm, contained, and brow beaten individual to performing brutal acts of criminality over time.  It is an impressive series, and one that deserves the attention and awards it has gotten.

Place is integral to this series. Shot in New Mexico, it moves the usual border story from the more familiar Texas or Arizona to a lesser populated state similarly effected by the tensions of the US-Mexico border. Landscape is cinematically shot mostly by Michael Slovis and makes full use of the impressive, flat, vast open spaces and beautifully rendered sunsets and sunrises of New Mexico, even dwelling on these to assert their significance as a context for this narrative.  As has been written about with regards to John Sayles’ Lone Star (1996), the vertical lines of these shots are a consistent visual reminder of the border between the US and Mexico.

The border looms large in the story as an integral element of the plot and as metaphor. Just as in Lone Star, many lines are blurred between right and wrong, good and bad, whereby moral dilemmas and their resolution are at the core of the plot. Implicitly, the audience is being asked to consider what they would do in his ever-evolving situation. Would you accept the money from your ex-girlfriend who took your business concept and became a millionaire? Do you go in with force in a given situation or resolve it through other methods? Is it right to kill that person? Do you tell your wife what you are up to and, at what point? (I’m being deliberately oblique to avoid spoilers). This is all cleverly rendered.

Unlike Lone Star, the representation of the real border and those who are from the Mexican side is more troubling. As plot elements, there are recurrent Mexican characters, mostly drug dealers, who must be negotiated with, avoided or confronted in order to establish a claim over the local market.

So, what of these Mexican characters? First it’s worth considering the context in which this series is made. It is at a very interesting time for what the border means in the US, politically and culturally. It is a contentious political topic. President Obama’s government, amidst promises of better immigration laws including the introduction of the Dream Act, has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors. Laws were brought in by Arizona state legislature to ban the teaching of Chicano and Mexican texts as subversive and dangerous.  The Bush administration spent millions reinforcing the border to hamper illegal immigration.  At the same time, in the recent elections the Republicans who harnessed a lot of anti-Latino sentiments in their last presidential campaign were forced to confront the fact that they lost the race because they failed to attract the Latino vote. They have become the largest ‘minority’ in the US and are now being actively courted.

On the Mexican side of the border the last few years have been dramatic. As I have previously written, Mexico has experienced serious problems, particularly between 2006-12, because of government policy and violence by drug gangs, the Narcos. This has been most acutely felt along the border, but also in the gulf and central states. Detail on these can be read here. It has suffered acutely from the global downturn and has seen millions of migrants returning (voluntarily or through deportation) from the US because of the economic collapse there. Meanwhile, it has received a large number of migrants from Central America fleeing terrible gang culture (largely associated with the drug trade) in these nations.  Conditions are tense on both sides.

The Mexican characters in Breaking Bad are one of the weaknesses of the series. They are often more psychopathic than any of the locally produced ones whether that is the meth addicted dealer Tuco (Raymond Cruz) of season 1; the disturbed, vengeful and largely silent brothers of season 3; or the over-sexed and sleazy Narcos, whose rancho the characters visit in season 5. Even Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), who for many seasons is one of the chief drug distributors, his Chilean (read Latino) roots and his training as a dealer in Mexico render him highly dangerous thus allowing him to dominate the local market.

A useful insight into this channelling of a particular style of bad Mexican is through the use of the actor Danny Trejo as Tortuga. As this song by Plastilina suggests, Trejo is allied with a particular b-movie, hard man character.  He is an actor whose extensive roles (243, last count on imdb.com) as a Latino badass in genre movies was channelled by Roberto Rodríguez in the hard man roles with a heart of gold in the Spykids (2001-11) series, From Dusk to Dawn (1996) and Machete (2010). Trejo’s presence signifies more than the sum of the character he is playing. It draws on this complex interplay between ubiquitous roles and the character he performs at that particular moment.  In Breaking Bad he carries this history with him and the scriptwriter is not called upon to flesh out his past, he is by implication a sum of previous characters. This then acts as a visual and narrative shorthand whereby Trejo, depending on the inflection, can be the violent, dangerous underdog who upsets the status quo or stands in for all greasy, dangerous, unreliable and slippery Mexicans without being fleshed out more significantly.

*Spoiler alert*

Trejo’s role is worth dwelling on because he is one of the best-known Mexican-American actors in this series and he embodies the disquieting approach taken towards the representation of Mexicans in Breaking Bad.  He appears in just two episodes, “Negro y Azul” Season 2 episode 7, where he plays a prominent role, and “IFT” Season 3, episode 3.  I’ll focus on “Negro y Azul”.  This episode is markedly Hispanic/Mexican in theme and focus. The title translates as black and blue. An eponymous narcocorrido sung by the reknowned

Los cuates de Sinaloa plays before the opening credits and extolls Heisenberg/Walt’s fame, saying that his notoriety has reached Mexico, and states that there is a hit on his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The narcocorrido has a complicated history. They are songs often (but not always) paid for by a leader of a cartel, to condemn or laud a major figure in the drug trade or to send a message to someone. They can celebrate murders, big deals, or talk someone up. The performers lives can be endangered not only by whether their song is appreciated by the sponsor or the subject of the lyrics, they can also be under threat from an opposing group.  Some of these performers write songs independently, without direct affiliation. Irrespective, it is a genre integral to the cultural reception and understanding of the drugs trade on both sides of the border. “Negro y Azul” at the opening of Breaking Bad is a good example of one of these, aesthetically plays with the low budget and often corny nature of the videos, and is performed by a hugely successful group. The series is directly using this popular form as an important allusion, thereby recognising its significance and interpolating Heisenberg/Walt into the meta-narrative the narcocorridos engage in as if he were real.

The music video also works as a neat shorthand way of telling us about the hit out on Heisenberg/Walt and to introduce us to Tortuga, Trejo’s character.  He is glimpsed in the video as the lyrics declare that the cartel see Heisenberg/Walt as a threat and plan to eliminate him. The shots of Tortuga are styled as if they were by security or surveillance cameras, he is seen mostly in shadow and the quick cuts ensure that shots of him are fleeting. He is implicitly slippery, bad, and hard to track.

Later in the episode Tortuga is presented as having turned police informant. DEA officer and brother-in-law to Walt, Hank (Dean Norris), who has just been given a promotion to work alongside officers in El Paso, Texas, meets Tortuga for the first time in the hotel room he has been put by the police. In this scene he belittles Hank

for not speaking Spanish and intimates that he will give them fuller information in the future. His attitude is arrogant.

He is clothed in a hotel bathrobe with a cigar in his mouth and talks about the Television programmes he is keen to watch.

All of this suggests that he is happy to take but not to give. Put alongside his presence in the earlier music video sequence he is implicitly untrustworthy. At the end of the episode Hank comes upon Tortuga’s severed head when given a tip off by another informant.   

This sequence suggests at the particular savagery of the Mexican cartels over anything that Hank has previously witnessed. Tortuga’s head is attached to a tortoise.It is first seen from afar through binoculars, then Hank and the other US and Mexican police agents approach it. Hank is evidently upset having already experienced trauma in an earlier episode when he kills Tuco, and runs to his car amidst laughter from his colleagues.

One asks, mockingly, “What’s the matter Schrader you act like you’ve never seen a human head on a tortoise before?”,

suggesting that they have seen much worse before and are inured to such violent deaths. Hank tries to cover up by saying that he is getting an evidence bag from the car. He is not believed. By this need to move away from the horror, he saves his life. On being touched by one of the other officers the head and tortoise explode.  What follows is terrible moaning by the men who have survived and dark, unsettling noises on the soundtrack as the camera surveys the bloodshed. The later episode in which Tortuga appears shows the final events that lead up to his death. We are to read that Mexican brutality is more than Hank, as an experienced DEA can cope with, especially one based in New Mexico.

So, what of this representation? The police in El Paso, both Mexican and US, have become de-sensitized to this violence. El Paso is represented as more Mexican than New Mexico. This is particularly evidenced in the fact that the DEA are mostly bilingual and there is close cooperation between them and the Mexican police. Whereas, in New Mexico Hank gets away with casual racism and constantly demeaning his Mexican-American work partner because he is working in a predominantly Anglo office. Hank’s function in the narrative in this respect is to play out the tense relationship between the US and Mexico, which is a concept that merits further exploration elsewhere. While Trejo embodies the danger from the other side, threatening, untrustworthy, sleazy, and, even after death, capable of inflicting terrible injury.

Conclusion

In its representation of Mexicans, Breaking Bad rarely gets beyond the stereotypical.  With the exception of Gus (as one of the few Latino to be fleshed out) and the drug lord in his crass over-blown mansion, all Mexicans are represented as dwelling deep in the countryside trapped by poverty in dusty hamlets, familiar from Hollywood cliché, but not familiar to the average Mexican experience.  It is disappointing in a series which is otherwise nuanced, cleverly plotted, beautifully executed and intelligent, that the Mexicans are still the scapegoats. Whilst Schrader, Walt and other white characters are given multi-dimensional characterisation, Tortuga and many other Mexican characters are ascribed singular characteristics that conform to long-held stereotypical representations of Mexicans in US film and TV.