Art, Architecture and Visual Culture
This chapter examines how the concept of hybridity mediates the post-Revolutionary discourse of indigenismo (indigenism) in its cinematic form. It looks specifically at how malinchismo, which is also figured as a 'positive, valorisation of whiteness,' threatens the 'purity' of an essential Mexican in María Candelaria, Emilio Fernández's most famous indigenist film. This chapter looks at the contradictions of indigenism in Fernández' often cited as exemplary María Candelaria, suggesting that the film's representation of the indígena embodies a hybrid incoherent identity. The chapter also argues that the representation of indigenismo in Maria Candelaria is predicated on a pre-Revolutionary racial ideology that comes not just from a residual European influence but also from Fernandez' borrowings from Hollywood. This chapter also looks at the contradictions of indigenism in Fernández' two other Golden Age indigenist films Maclovia and La perla (The Pearl).
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book develops a theoretical framework through which mock-documentary can be analysed, and in particular through which it can be distinguished from other fact-fiction screen forms such as drama-documentary, Reality TV and docu-soap. It describes and identifies the range of mock-documentary texts and in the process to illuminate the differing relationships such texts build between texts, audiences and the discourse of factuality. The book provides an initial schema to begin the process of identifying and analysing the ways in which mock-documentary relates to, and critically comments upon, the documentary form. It examines the intentions of the filmmakers, the specific textual strategies which they adopt and the roles constructed for the audience in order to understand fully the distinctiveness of the mock-documentary form.
This chapter positions the mock-documentary form in relation to one of the fictional forms which similarly works to complicate any apparent divisions between fact and fiction. It argues that part of the process of defining what mock-documentaries are by necessity involves identifying what they are not. The chapter discusses the differences between mock-documentaries and drama-documentaries. Both drama-documentary and mock-documentary are fictional forms which seek to establish particular relationships with the documentary genre. Drama-documentary is best described as the form that attempts to stay closest to the actual historical event or persons. Like drama-documentary, mock-documentaries are fictional texts, but they position themselves quite differently in relation to the discourses of fact and fiction. In making a drama-documentary the filmmaker's intention is to operate within the expectations of factual discourse and to produce a text that is historically accurate. The chapter looks at examples of dramadocumentaries which could be mistaken for mock-documentaries.
This chapter positions texts according to three general textual tendencies; a nostalgic frame directed towards a fictional subject; the group of texts which could be termed 'mock-rockumentaries'; and a third group which we have termed 'mock-docu-soap'. The first of the degree 1 'nostalgic' texts is an early effort at mock-documentary, and interesting especially as an example which is not consistent in its construction of the mock-documentary form. The mock-documentary text offers a more seamless simulation of documentary form than either The Rutles, or Woody Allen's early effort at mock-documentary, Take the Money and Run. The Rutles follows the parodic model of the Monty Python's Flying Circus television series, and it features both Python regulars and Saturday Night Live comics. The film uses the mock-documentary form to present the story of the Rutles, a detailed parody of the mythology of the British musical group the Beatles.
This chapter distinguishes texts which develop a reflexivity toward factual discourse in different ways. Some degree 2 mock-documentaries feature muted critiques of media practices, others offer a sustained political critique of aspects of culture using the mock-documentary form and a third category comprises texts which generate reflexive interpretations because of their success as hoaxes. Bad News Tour is an offering from the British television Channel 4's Comic Strip series, and is a text which falls within the same mock-rockumentary 'tradition' as This Is Spinal Tap. In contrast to Spinal Tap, however, Bad News Tour offers a more complex commentary on the nature of popular music and the role played by the media in the creation of rock mythology. ER series is one of the more openly reflexive examples of a degree 2 mock-documentary, with the ambivalence towards factual discourse which characterises this Degree represented at a variety of levels.
The mock-documentary form seems to be more typically used by filmmakers to parody aspects of popular culture, particularly media culture, than to encourage viewers to question their adherence to the assumptions and expectations associated with documentary. This chapter discusses examples of degree 3 texts that suggest both the potential of the mock-documentary form to serve as a site for the active subversion of factual discourse and the degree to which this potential has remained relatively underdeveloped. David Holzman's Diary is presented as a cinéma vérité document, and filmed in black and white, it presents the story of an attempt of a young filmmaker, David Holzman, to put his life in order by making a diary using a camera and a tape recorder. Hogue argued that David Holzman's Diary offers a deconstruction of a filmmaker's faith in the purity of any relationship which photographic images may claim with 'reality'.
Emilio Fernandez's golden age lasted for seven years, 1943-50. This chapter begins by looking at Fernández' role within the system, mapping how, in the critical analysis of his work, the construction of Fernández as auteur and 'indio' intersects with the processes of institutionalization involved in 'nation' and 'national culture.' It questions auteurist readings of Fernández which, by seeking to construct him as a flesh-and-blood individual who gives meaning and coherence to a unified oeuvre, fall into the trap of the 'cult of personality.' The chapter also looks at how the institutionalization is evident in the 1980s accounts of him written coincidentally at the same time as the biggest upsurge in the production of Mexican culture studies. It examines what is at stake when the proponents of Mexican national cinema promote Fernandez as auteur, particularly given the neo-colonialist implications of the use of the auteurist paradigm in Mexico.
From 1943 until 1950, Emilio Fernández was regarded as one of the foremost purveyors of 'Mexicanness,' as one of the most important filmmakers of the Mexican film industry. This book explores the contradictions of post-Revolutionary representation as manifested in Fernández' canonical 1940s films: María Candelaria, Víctimas del pecado, Las abandonadas, La perla, Enamorada, Río Escondido, Maclovia and Salón Mexico. It examines transnational influences that shaped Fernández' work. The book acknowledges how the events of the Mexican revolution impacted on the country's film industry and the ideological development of nationalism. It takes note of current tendencies in film studies and postcolonial theory to look for the excesses, instabilities and incoherencies in texts, which challenge such totalizing projects of hegemony or cultural reification as 'cultural nationalism' or ' mexicanidad.' The book looks at how classical Mexican cinema has been studied, surveying the US studies of classical Mexican cinema which diverge from Mexican analyses by making space for the 'other' through genre and textual analyses. Fernández's Golden Age lasted for seven years, 1943-1950. The book also examines how the concept of hybridity mediates the post-Revolutionary discourse of indigenismo (indigenism) in its cinematic form. It looks specifically at how malinchismo, which is also figured as a 'positive, valorisation of whiteness,' threatens the 'purity' of an essential Mexican in María Candelaria, Emilio Fernández's most famous indigenist film. Emilio Fernandez's Enamorada deals with the Revolution's renegotiation of gender identity.
This chapter presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the book. After Río Escondido and Víctimas del pecado, Emilio Fernández goes from being the Mexican and Latin American cinema director of the 1940s, to nobody. Accounts of his career post the Golden Age paint him as a 'tragic' figure, making poorly received films and acting (in black charro costume) in others' films in order to survive when he could not find work as a director. The chapter discusses the Mexican film industry and Fernández's film career in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Fernández's decline and stagnation are blamed on the repetition and anachronism of the same images of nationalism that brought him great success during his most prestigious years. The book hopes to generate new analyses of other Fernandez's films that are critically neglected because they lie beyond the canon of cultural nationalism.
Mock-documentary is a 'fact-fictional' form which has a close relationship to both drama and documentary. It not only uses documentary codes and conventions but constructs a particular relationship with the discourse of factuality. This chapter outlines some of the key issues for analysis and discussion of the relationship which mock-documentary texts build with documentary and factuality discourses. It is not a comprehensive survey of the documentary theory literature but an overview of the key arguments with a view to showing how documentary positions itself as the screen form most able to portray the social world in an accurate and truthful way. The chapter explains that cultural status of the documentary form is effectively challenged by the development of the mock-documentary, which is itself symptomatic of the wider challenges to documentary. There are a number of cultural assumptions, and underlying discourses, which serve to reinforce documentary's privileged position.