We are such a shitty people. Or the people we choose to elect are shitty and filled with such hatred and fear that we govern in the shittiest way possible, blaming the weak and the poor for all the problems that our shitty elected officials fail to resolve. It's sad. And we are getting worse every year it seems. A Better Life is a movie directed by Chris Weitz that came out last year and got Demian Bichir -- Nancy's Mexican drug lord husband on Weeds -- an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. And it's a really good film. But in the end it just highlights how shitty of a people our "they hate us for our freedom" country we have become. And probably have always been. Immigrants have been blamed for everything rotten in our past and they're still being blamed today, even though the Mexicans coming across the border didn't cause 9/11 (some of the terrorists came via Canada and no one is proposing a fence on that side), didn't cause any economic crisis of ours (no, that was the rich bankers and Wall Street executives and highly paid politicians), and didn't create the drug problems that have made their own country a war zone (that was our rich country's failed "war on drugs"). Yet throughout the past decade and to this very day, a certain segment of the American population (read: racists) are so busy blaming "them" for all our society's ills that they can't see that building a stupid fucking fence isn't go to make this country a better place. It's just going to continue to erode our freedom.
A Better Life is the story of an illegal immigrant gardener tending to the well-manicured lawns in the rich neighborhoods of Los Angeles while trying to make a better life for his 14-year-old son, who is just becoming old enough to (a) cop an annoying attitude and (b) be recruited for the Chicano gangs running rampant in the seedier parts of the city (where they happen to live -- the high school looks like a prison). Bichir has a regular job with an apparently legal immigrant who is returning to Mexico and wants to sell Bichir his landscaping business (his truck, equipment, and customers) for $12,000. Bichir doesn't have that kind of money but sees a chance to get his son away from their living conditions if he can turn the business into a success, so he asks his sister (who is legal, as is his son) for a loan. This begins the series of events that drive the narrative forward. And make you feel for this hard-working man who came to this country 15 years ago, had a child, and yet can't even drive his new truck without fear that a broken taillight will get him deported away from his family. And rip this child away from the father that has raised him. It's an untenable situation and there's a pretty easy solution -- stop fucking deporting people that have been here that long. But immigration reform has been a nonstarter since Republicans took over the House and like everything they espouse ("anchor babies!!!"), the worst solutions continue to be policy positions and nothing ever gets done to actually fix a situation that isn't even a problem. Immigration from Mexico has actually gone negative in the past couple years thanks to the Bush administration cratering the economy, and that along with repressive racist "show your papers" legislation in a bunch of southern Republican states from Arizona to Georgia have made it impossible for farmers to even find enough day laborers to pick their crops. Not all immigrants are as hard-working as Bichir is portrayed in this film and there's criminals and gangs among illegals of course, as there are among American citizens, but when we are a country all about kicking out people who risked their lives to escape poverty and war and horror in their homeland to work hard here and raise their families, isn't that exactly the opposite of the country we should aim to be. And the opposite of freedom. "But they're ILLEGAL!!!" Go fuck yourself, racist Republican scum. This movie wasn't even about politics and it still made me angry at the mouth-breathers that somehow hold elected office in this country. Yes, Joe Arpaio, I'm talking to you. You should be in jail. America can do better. Or maybe we can't, I really don't know anymore. But this is a really great movie.