Who is Dayani Crystal?

dyaniMovie recommendations: Who is Dayani Crystal? A documentary that tries to find out who one of the many men found dead in the Arizona desert was. It’s available on Netflix streaming now.

I tend to make light of Donald Trump, I’m amused at how he has repackaged the far-right’s talking points into plain talk.  He has scared the hell out of the Republican establishment which figured they could use the rhetoric of xenophobia to command the votes of that part of the electorate whose feelings of financial insecurity – as Hitler described in Mein Kampf – make them easy targets for any sort of chauvinistic messaging.

There is some sordid pleasure in seeing the Republican establishment being bit on the butt by the monster they created.  And I honestly don’t think that Trump means anything he says. I think he’d just as likely to say exactly the opposite if it’d got him the same adulation – but liberals are not as easily fooled (or at least I hope we are not, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding).

But then I go back and think about the men and women who have died in the desert because the US government spends so many resources trying to keep desperate people looking for jobs out. I don’t think Donald Trump is Hitler nor do I believe most Americans would condone a genocide. And yet, isn’t this how it starts? By saying – through our votes – that it’s OK to establish policies that will kill people?  Indeed, by tacitly determining that there are people whose life does not matter?

Watch the documentary, then come back.

Now that you’ve watched it, did you find it a little discomforting to have Gael García Bernal standing for the dead man? I love García Bernal, I think he is one of the best and most revolutionary actors of his generation.  But he also has such an upper class Mexican accent, speaks so eloquently (he’s an actor after all) and is so good looking and famous, that it makes me wonder if the impact of the documentary is that I cannot possibly imagine a man looking and sounding like García Bernal, dying in the desert. That tragedy has greater impact because it’s unexpected, but it is not “Dayani Cristal”‘s tragedy.  As much as I appreciate the fact that García Bernal got this movie made, his presence in the film ultimately looks as misery tourism.

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