Fan Letters to the Cultural Industries

Border Literature about Mass Media
  • Claire F. Fox


“What movie should we see this Sunday afternoon?” This is the weekly dilemma faced by the fronteriza narrator of Gina Valdéss poem, “Llegaba el Domingo” (1986).2 None of the choices is particularly appealing: The Ensenada theater shows stale Mexican movies about Pancho Villa, and the De Anza, which features French movies, is overrun by married men. That leaves the Cine México, where the narrator finally ends up spending her Sunday afternoon, “cursing John Wayne for every Yaqui, Apache and Mexican that he killed.” The theme of the spectator’s conflicted relationship to visual mass media appears repeatedly in the writings of authors who live and work in the border region. The border served as a source of narrative raw material for the Hollywood and Mexico City-based film industries, especially during the first half of the twentieth century. At the time, the U.S. western and film noir, and Mexican cabaretera, charro, and revolutionary pictures, used the border to refer to a world where the reigning values and social systems were contrasted to the interior of each country.3 But the Mexican cinemas Golden Age, with its strong genre and star system, declined in the early 1950s, after which the industry experienced periods of resurgence that were usually characterized by the production of “quality” pictures for urban, cosmopolitan, and international audiences. Valdés seems to capture both the rise and fall of the Mexican industry in her poem’s parodic reference to Pancho Villa movies.


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Copyright information

© Claudia Sadowski-Smith 2002

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  • Claire F. Fox

There are no affiliations available

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