Posted: 04/21/2003


Chasing Papi


by Coco Delgado

Disclaimer: despite my last name, I am not Hispanic. I’m, in fact, half-Russian. I was married once for a short time in the early 90’s to a man whose last name was Delgado…but his mother was Irish and Norwegian, and his father’s grandfather moved to Mexico from Prussia and changed his name to blend in…there’s more story there than I actually know…

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That being said, I went to see Chasing Papi because I’d seen the preview, and it looked interesting.

And it was, but not because of the writing or the plot…what was interesting is that it was a definitely ethnic-oriented movie. And the way it portrayed female archetypes and (dare I say?) role models was fascinating. The women in this are all intelligent, and they’re all sexy…but they also all dress like Acapulco Barbie and prance 5” heels. It’s amazing how they manage to run in some scenes with those shoes…and some of the outfits make Fredrick’s of Hollywood look dowdy. However, women have all the power in this movie, and they can do absolutely anything, including ride a Harley. Meanwhile, every man in this movie is depicted as shallow, stupid, and easily controlled by the promise of sex and easily distracted by a little leg or cleavage…or they’re gay. In a way, it’s really quite cool. It’s Latina Power, but more than that, it’s Grrl Power.

I also thought it was clever that everyone is addicted to this (real-life) TV astrologer, Walter Mercado, and that all our heroines are very decidedly their signs: Lorena is a Virgo, Cici is a Scorpio, and Patricia is a Sagittarius…and the little dog is a Cancer! Ha!

The cast is almost entirely Latino, and probably unknown to most non-Hispanics, but there are a few “names”: Paul Rodriguez appears as a foppish beauty pageant director, and Freddy Rodriguez is a bad guy, curiously less ethnic than his Rico on Six Feet Under.

And that’s what’s so interesting about movie, really: we’re seeing the beginning of a trend, showing Hollywood’s embracing of the other colors in the world that have just started appearing in mainstream movies along with the Hong Kong and Bollywood films that are sneaking into major venues…Because guess what? Asians, Indians, Hispanics and African-Americans have been seeing films about Caucasians for decades, and a steady diet of white bread gets boring.

Coco Delgado lives in Cambridge-Somerville and always sits in the front row. Her 2003 New Years resolution is to see more than the 66 movies she saw last year.

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