Welcome to 2010!
Last year ended with Hollywood’s highest box office gross ever. The industry also saw a 5 percent growth in tickets sold during 2008, which means the box office increase was not due to higher ticket prices alone. Amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, people are finding some much-needed solace at the theaters, just as they did eighty years ago. But now they are finding Mexicans there, too, although not in the way or even in the place you might think. Consider Sherlock Holmes, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “consulting detective,” who is noted for his prowess in deductive reasoning. Director Guy Ritchie imported American actor Robert Downey Jr. to fill the title role and turned the incessantly talky earlier film versions into an all-out action flick, but the film is still resolutely London-based. Given this, the marketing of the film through 7-Eleven convenience stores and the product tie-in with its 99¢ Go-Go Taquitos is puzzling. The movie/taco poster of a dapper Downey and Jude Law, both in character, implores customers to “Get a clue” and buy a taquito, no doubt on their way to the movie theater. One might exclaim, “Holy Taco Bell Chihuahua, Batman, what were they thinking?” Is this nothing more than a cheap, and mindless, attempt to sell more Mexicanized junk food? But then it came to me: the “l” in “Holmes” is actually silent, and therefore the name is pronounced “Homes,” a slightly more formal variation of “homies.” The head-scratching product tie-in is simply a way of letting people know that Sherlock Holmes, often thought of as an effete Brit, is in fact down with the homies and would as likely choose a Go-Go Taquito with a Tecate as some haggis with a pint. Raza take note, this film speaks to you. You will not find this personal connection in the film itself, mind you. Chicanos fill the theaters, but not the screen. To understand how Hollywood speaks to you, all you need to do is go to 7-Eleven and get a clue.
Chon A. Noriega
Director and Professor
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center