05 May 2012

The Long Halloween Vol. III - Cinco de Mayo

Well folks, it's time once again for the Third Installment of The Long Halloween - Norwegian Morning Wood's monthly look at a different holiday every month and the proper pop culture ways to celebrate it. In our third year of pulling this crap we've descended into the Obscure Edition - highlighting the random, insane, peculiar holidays that may otherwise go unnoticed. With that said, today actually shouldn't be all that unfamiliar - welcome to Mexican St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo.

That's right folks. It's High Noon on Cinco de Mayo - time to substitute Coronas and Sauza for Guinness and Jameson and party with the steady beating Latin Heart in all of us. The celebration commemorates a great battle, and is known regionally in Mexico as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, meaning "The Day of the Battle of Puebla." The battle was a huge victory for the United States of Mexico that pushed the French out of the territory and halted their invasion plans.

Yes, apparently France tried to invade Mexico during the American Civil War, the result of which is Cinco de Mayo. Sometimes History really is fun. It really is a Holiday that should be celebrated my Americans as well, not only does it mark another defeat of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, but if the French were able to get a decisive win over Mexico they would have been in a better position to aid the Confederate States of America in their rebellion against the Union. ¡Viva la Mexico!

So what should we watch with our cervezas and tequila and this grand day? At first I thought Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) would be appropriate, but I really can't distinguish between any of the Mexico Trilogy on this day. Director Robert Rodriguez has contributed to the Mexsploitation genre with El Mariachi (1992), Desperado (1995), and the aforementioned Once Upon a Time in Mexico. All three are classic counterparts to traditional Westerns that more often paint Mexicans as scumbags or drug dealers. Well, there are still scumbags and drug dealers here but there are heroes and badasses, too. Antonio Banderas crafted an image and a career from these films, echoed throughout pop culture, naturally leading to Puss in Boots (2011).

It's tough to think of a proud Mexican film that doesn't involve either Antonio Banderas or Robert Rodriguez. Will Ferrell's recent Casa de mi Padre (2012) may do the trick, but you really have to be in on the joke to enjoy that one (I certainly did), and there's crazier, more Mexican stuff out there. Recently Machete (2010), and its pending sequel, have been explicit and blatant Mexsploitation events full of Mexican pride expressly contrasted with White American influence. To celebrate a battle that kept out Foreign White Influence, what better film than Machete? In the same vein we could look at Antonio's The Mask of Zorro (1998), which includes bar none the greatest movie scene of all time, seen below:



It may just be that I was getting my first boners when this film came out. It may just be that if I was Zorro this is the only thing I would do with my sword powers and I would do it all the time. Or it may just be the intense sexual tension so perfectly encapsulated, managed, and diffused, but it's probably just because Antonio and Catherine are both pretty hot. Oh, Mexico.

While we're on the subject, why not visit our fair friends south of the border with National Tourism Week that also begins today and runs until May 13th? You could go to Mexico like so many of our cinematic idols, from Josh Brolin's mariachi wake-up in No Country for Old Men (2007) to Martin Lawrence in another one of my all-time favorite movie scenes from Blue Streak (1999). Or if you want to limit tourism to our own damn country you could just plop in Vacation (1983), because Hollywood hasn't improved on that yet.


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