Monday night I saw this ad on TV:
First of all, it is super creepy, but it also uses the now iconic image of the pink crosses honoring the dead and missing in the Juárez, Mexico feminicide. My interest was piqued, not from an entertainment standpoint, but because I just did an analysis of literary accounts of the murders. There have been detective dramas produced about the killings in literature (Desert Blood and 2666) and film (the abysmal Bordertown). The team behind this new series, The Bridge, is lauding it as the first tv series set on the U.S.-Mexico border, like that is some kind of prize. For example, John Landgraf, president of FX says:
“For years networks having been trying develop a drama series set on the U.S.-Mexican border without any success. I’m thrilled to say that Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid have become the first to crack that creative code and they have done so magnificently…There have been great films set in that world – No Country for Old Men and Lone Star come to mind – but never a great TV series. This one is special. The setting, the writing, the direction, and the way it is brought to life by Demián Bichir, Diane Kruger and the rest of the cast makes for truly riveting drama.” (source)
Sure, there are great stories to be told about the border. At the Roundtable of Latina Feminisms I saw presentations on stunning artwork centered on border issues (i.e. Ester Hernandez) and Latin@ writers, artists, and filmmakers have been working with these issues for generations. A TV series could do great work raising awareness in a more mainstream market, but will/can it do so without reinforcing narratives of U.S. bias?
According to EW, “Based on the Scandinavian series ‘Bron,’ ‘The Bridge’ is about a body found on the border of Texas and Mexico and the investigation that ensues.” The series stars Diane Kruger and Academy Award Nominee Demián Bichir. FX’s website elaborates, “Set on the border between El Paso and Juarez, The Bridge centers on two detectives, one from the United States and one from Mexico, who must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.” Their overview discusses chaos, corrupt police, Diane Kruger’s character’s undiagnosed autism, but not a word about the mass killing of young women on the border. It’s highly suspect.
The ads for the show, however, play right into the sexualization of women on the border, both in the media and in the economy of Juarez. You can view the four short TV spots here at The Hollywood Reporter. The spot I’ve embedded below is particularly disturbing because, like the one above, it clearly draws on imagery of the murders, but does so in a way that reproduces a narrative that revictimizes women by making violence against them titillating or glamorous. The murders are horrifying. I think that’s why crime dramas seem like a natural fit to talk about them, but the problem is that in entertainment we take pleasure from being shocked or scared. It seems disrespectful given the actual horror these cases entail.
We’ll see what the show does, however, when it comes out July 10th. You better believe I’ll keep you posted.