Tonight my wife and I will be watching the latest episode of Better Call Saul – and not just for some relief from the increasingly jaw-dropping Washington, D.C. Follies. We’re big fans of this precursor cable TV series to Breaking Bad (which I’ve had no interest in) and will be sorry to see it come to an end in a few weeks.
But as has been the case for the last year or so, one key feature of Saul, and what it seems to reveal about political correctness-spawned double standards in the entertainment industry, will simply astonish me: the viciously criminal nature of practically every significant Latino character.
There’s drug lord Hector Salamanca. There are his uber-surly and violent nephews. There’s drug lord Gus Fring. There’s Ignacio “Nacho” Varga – a drug gang henchman who soon after his debut was depicted as an example of, at best, the possibility of some honor existing among thieves. (He’s also, however, becoming increasingly sympathetic because of his growing qualms about involvement with the cartels – even though these doubts so far as we know sprung solely from concern for his honest, hard-working father, who has endangered himself and the rest of the family by refusing to pay the gangsters protection money.)
To continue with our list, there are numerous other terrifying-looking cartel thugs. And there are the Mexico-based cartel bosses of Hector and Gus.
In fact, the only decent, law-abiding continuing Latino character in the show aside from Nacho’s father has been Ernesto, a legal assistant. Like Varga Senior, however, he hasn’t exactly been showcased, and in fact may have made his last appearance many episodes ago.
Moreover, the series has been peppered with scenes of the evidently non-stop drug trade that originates in Mexico and services clients in the United States – including the construction of an enormous tunnel intended to greatly facilitate trafficking that’s been detailed in the last few episodes. And never in Saul is there any hint that U.S. demand for narcotics may be the ultimate driver of the drug trade, or that many Anglos are either helping to mastermind it or even profit from it significantly.
Why have I been nothing less than thunderstruck by all of this? Here’s a hint:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The speaker? Then-Presidential hopeful Donald Trump. When did he say it? While announcing his candidacy in 2015. How did many Americans react, especially the kinds of progressives that pervade Hollywood? With outrage.
How have any of these folks reacted to the murderous psychopaths that comprise the vast majority of those Latino Saul characters with any significance? As far as I can tell, with completely indifference. In fact, here’s the only critical item I came up with after searching Google for twenty minutes (and I’m a really good searcher).
Saul’s creators could conceivably reply that they decided to focus the show on the Albuquerque, New Mexico underworld and how it can suck normal solid citizens (and non-citizens?) into its maw – and that Mexican- and Mexican-American-dominated drug cartels dominate this underworld. Fair enough. They can also point out that they conceived the series before Mr. Trump ignited the latest, especially angry phase of the national immigration debate (although Breaking Bad wasn’t exactly short of Latino villains, either). That, too, is worth bearing in mind.
Yet it’s still remarkable that, apparently at no time since the series’ debut, just before Mr. Trump’s “sending their best” remarks, have the creators or writers come under any notable pressure, or felt any need themselves, to introduce any prominent Latino good guys and gals. Unless they figured they’d benefit from yet another double standard in La-La-Land?