MSJ at the Movies

Nacho Libre: satirical or stereotypical?

In the 2006 film, Nacho Libre, Jack Black stars as a monk who follows his true dreams of becoming a professional wrestling star. The location of the story is set in Southern Mexico, and paints an interesting picture of Mexican culture. Made by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies, Nacho Libre received mixed reviews, but ultimately is considered a success, bringing in gross revenues of 99.3 million dollars.

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Jack Black stars in “Nacho Libre.”

I remember watching this film every morning on the way to kindergarten. For my family, Nacho Libre was a classic piece of entertainment. Especially as a child, I’ve always only seen this movie as an innocent, hilarious story. However, I can now see that if it were released today, the perception of the movie might be different.

Today, American consumers are quicker to pick up on certain things in films including; racism, sexism, and other potentially offensive categorizations. Or maybe they aren’t “picking it up” quicker, but they understand the implications of the offensive issues. In addition, I believe the media in our society has made it a great importance to avoid all expressions not generally accepted by the masses.

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Is “Nacho Libre” offensive, or is it a humorous take on an aspect of Mexican culture?

Some specifics regarding what aspects of Nacho Libre could be perceived as offensive include – a 3rd world poverty-stricken representation of Mexico, a lazy attempt at a Mexican accent, and other various stereotypes associated with this part of the world. When watching the movie with this in mind, these factors are pretty blatantly obvious, whereas before, they went right over my head.

All of this being said, I truly believe that the producers and actors of the film had no “racially inspired” ill-intent. The movie business has changed significantly over the last decade, and I think, at the time it was made, Nacho Libre was purely an attempt to entertain both children and adults by telling a harmless story.

2CA71C3B-CBFF-4689-AF6B-FA2D30EE1127Joey Johnson is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.