Virgen de Juarez
This weekend when I went to Blockbuster, I unfortunately stumbled upon a film by Kevin James Dobson that was based on the same subject matter of the documentary we viewed. I should have seen the title "Virgen of Juarez" as a red flag but instead recognized that it was most likely a dramatic representation of the Juarez murders, similar to what both Jennifer Lopez and Selma Hayek plan to make. What I had expected from the film was a personal account of what happened to a specific family or group of people, being able to internalize the tragic accounts on a more personal level as we could in "Boys Don't Cry". Instead, the film focused on a relgious phenomenon and icon that developed from the events and on an almost foolishly fearless American reporter who is not only an outsider (which is just what we are as an audience member not living in Juarez) but also completely detatched from the culture, not even attempting to speak Spanish and completely in disbelief of their religious superstitions. The views of the reporter only reinforced the way that I already felt about the situation rather than introducing any new perspectives that I wouldn't already gain from a documentary. The horrible part about the film, however, was the religious spin that it took that reinforced the idea of blaming the victim. The story focuses on Mariela, a miraculous survivor of one of the attacks who becomes a religious icon to the community, being considered for sainthood and nearly becoming synonymous with the Virgin Mary, whom she supposedly witnessed while being attacked in the desert. Throughout the film, despite the loss of her memory, she has flashbacks that are triggered by men that were involved in the attack and each time begins to bleed from her palms as Christ was pierced through the hands when crucified signifiying the Catholic phenomenon of stigmata. She begins to crusade for justice, passing out pictures of the men she believes to have been involved, eventually causing their murders one by one, and also speaking to the public on the radio from a hidden location. Although vengeance might be the only way to solve the situation on a smaller level without the cooperation of the authorities, but it glamorized the idea of capital punishment in my eyes which does nothing to end violence (another example would be "Boondock Saints" which valorizes the killing of those who are corrupt or immoral). In a way it reinforces the idea that the immoral should be killed and that the good will survive. Overall, the film seemed to be somewhat without a well-defined plot. Even with the knowledge of the situation, the film was difficult to follow and accurately understand what was going on and what the purpose of any of the extra subplots were. On a more positive note however, the film seemed to have attempted to speak out the extent of the injustice and violence against women in general. When the reporter first arrived in Juarez, in her first night while visiting the family of a victim, another woman is killed and to the dismay of the police department, it is the reporter who discovers the body during a search the next day (which i thought to be somewhat unrealistic that they would even be searching so quickly). The woman, who was an older and presumably less naive and vulnerable of the women attacked, was overly cautious and carried a horn in attempt to attract attention and call for help if she became a victim. When her body was found, the horn was still in her hand, apparently not very successful of a prevention tool. So much focus on rape is always on what women can do to protect themselves rather than what should be done to stop the attempts in the first place and this pointed out how inaffective modes of protection are in preventing an attack. But then, the focus instead went to the character of the victims, as Mariela is a deeply religious woman who carried a pendant of the Virgin Mary and her followers are young women who realize that it is her moral perfection that saved her. This same idea is played out in every typical horror or slasher film in which there are several dispensible immoral female characters who are killed off one by one while the intelligent and virginal one escapes alive. As seen in the beginning of the documentary, this was the general view of the authorities in Juarez with their claim that all of these women were really strippers and prostitutes, in a secret night life of which their families were ignorant and that a simple curfew should solve the problem. This may have been the goal of the director, pointing out the deeply religious values of the people which caused some of the skew on prosecution, but it was certainly not clearly defined. Instead, the film got into a debate of religion and supersticion towards the end with confusion of who the good guys and bad guys were. It was also not very clear who exactly all of the characters even were as none seemed to be clearly developed with the exception of the neutral and emotionless reporter who was overly logical and disconnected from the situation at hand.