2017/04/01

2017/03/24:アメリカ研究博論執筆ワークショップ再録&院生レポート

さる 3月 24日(金)、慶應義塾大学三田キャンパスにて、カリフォルニア大学バークレー校博士課程のファリード・ベン=ユーセフさんを中心に、アメリカ研究博論執筆ワークショップが開催され、巽先生が司会、大学院ゼミ在籍の細野香里さんと冨塚亮平さんがディスカッサントを務められました。今回の CPA Reportsは、本ワークショップを特別再録!また、巽先生による序文「米墨ボーダー・ナラティヴ事始」と院生レポートも併せてお届けいたします!

■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
CONTENTS

■ はじめに−−米墨ボーダー・ナラティヴ事始
巽孝之

■ PART I: アメリカ研究博論執筆ワークショップ再録
  1. An Introduction Takayuki Tatsumi
  2. The Frontiers of Border Narrative under Trump’s Presidency: The Post-9/11 Border Western Fareed Ben-Youssef (University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. candidate, Film & Media) *WARNING! NOT FOR CITATION
  3. The Reality and the Fictionality of Border Western Films Kaori Hosono (D3, Keio University)
  4. “Divine Violence” and Border Western Films Ryohei Tomizuka (D2, Keio University)

PHOTOS: Q&A

■ PART II: 院生レポート
  1. 国境、そして現実と虚構の境界 細野香里(博士課程 3年)
  2. 「神的暴力」と国境西部劇映画 冨塚亮平(博士課程 2年)
  3. そういえば、私たちはオタクだった 内田大貴(博士課程 2年)
  4. メキシカン・ドリーム? 小泉由美子(博士課程 3年)

■ 関連リンク


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
はじめに−−米墨ボーダー・ナラティヴ事始
巽孝之


カリフォルニア大学バークレー校映画学科の大学院生ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ君に初めて会ったのは、 2009年 9月、わたしの半年にわたるサバティカルの最後の月のことである。 フルブライトの援助を受けたものの大学を一年間休むわけにはいかなかったので、サバティカル期間中には可能な限り全米各大学にいる学問的同志と旧交をあたため、今後の共同研究などを計画するのが主眼であった。 かくして 4月からはスーザン・ネイピア教授の配慮によりマサチューセッツ州ケンブリッジのタフツ大学に所属し、東海岸のブランダイス大学/ハーバード大学やイエール大学などで講演旅行を行い、 8月からはシェリー・フィシュキン教授の世話でスタンフォード大学に所属し 9月 9日にカリフォルニア大学バークレー校映画学科にて講演を行なった。旧知の日本学者ミリアム・サスが同学科で教鞭を執っており、わたしと小谷真理のふたりで彼女の大学院クラスで話すべく招かれたのである。この時、わたしは「ポーと乱歩」について映像の視点から分析したのだった。

ーーと、ここまで書いたところで記憶を新たにすべく、当時の記録はどこかに残していた筈だとさんざん探しまわった。その結果、何のことはない、ほかならぬこの CPA上に、 なんと CPA Monrhlyの第 28回第三部 [特別編 ]「スタンフォード便り」というかたちで、写真ともどもきちんと残っているではないか!まったく、日記だけはきちんと綴っておくものである。

ということで、詳しくはそのブログを読んでいただきたい。クラスには総勢 30名ほどが集まり、懇親会のカフェでもえんえん討議が続いた。当時よりファリード君が異色といえるほど熱心で、みんなの議論を引っ張っていたのである(写真では右列の手前から三番目で微笑んでいる)。ゆえにわたしは、あまりにも印象強烈だった彼の名前だけは書き留めた。「中には本格的に映画評論家を目指しネット映画評でも健筆をふるう血気盛んな院生ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ君もいて、頼もしい限り」。

そして以後、彼はついに博論執筆段階に入り、ここ三年程は毎夏のように来日しては調査研究を続け、ちょくちょく連絡をよこすようになったのである。当時からいまに至るまで、彼にとってわたしはあくまで映画研究家であるらしい。そして来日のたびにカフェで出会い、博論内容についてさまざまな議論をするようになった。テーマは 9.11同時多発テロ以後のジャンル映画論で、その対象にはちょうどわたしがこのところの科研費共同研究『モンロー・ドクトリンの半球分割』(彩流社、 2016年)などで関心を深めていた米墨ボーダー・ナラティヴ関連の論考も入っていた。正直なところ、彼の広い興味のうちで、日本の女子プロレス・ドキュメンタリーの研究などはまったく理解の埒外なのであるが、トマス・ピンチョンやコーマック・マッカーシー、ドン・ウィンズロウといった作家たちの作品群とも共振するところの多い米墨ボーダー・ナラティヴ、転じては米墨麻薬カルテル映画の一群は、トランプ政権以後の国境問題、世界問題を占うにじゅうぶんな可能性を含んでいる。今回の博論執筆ワークショップへの話題提供を依頼したゆえんだ。その結果、今秋からバークレーへ留学する細野香里君、映画批評にも詳しい富塚亮平君をディスカッサントに据え、院生たちを中心に展開した白熱の討議は、懇親会の Vivra Vivreに場所を移してからも、深夜になるまで止むことがなかった。

米墨ボーダー・ナラティヴは、今後必ずやアメリカ研究の中核に迫るだろう。そしてその時、ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ名義による論考群は、後世における同分野の研究者が等しく参照すべき基礎文献となるはずである。その貴重な序曲の記録を、以下にお届けする。


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
アメリカ研究博論執筆ワークショップ
“The Frontiers of Border Narrative under Trump’s Presidency”
2017年3月24日(金)18:10-20:30
@慶應義塾大学 三田キャンパス 北館第二会議室

発表者:ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ
ディスカッサント:細野香里、 冨塚亮平 
司会:巽孝之

共催:文部科学省科学研究費助成事業基盤研究(C)15K02349「モダニズム文学形成期の慶應義塾の介在と役割」、慶應義塾大学藝文學會、慶應義塾大学アメリカ研究プロジェクト、科学研究費・基盤研究(B)「マニフェスト・デスティニーの情動的効果と21世紀惑星的想像力」


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
The Frontiers of Border Narrative under Trump’s Presidency: The Post-9/11 Border Western: an Introduction
Takayuki Tatsumi



It is my great pleasure to hold the second dissertation workshop of our Kakenhi collaboration project with special emphasis upon Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, featuring Mr. Fareed Ben-Youssef, a Ph.D. candidate of UC Berkeley. For his biodata, please take a glance at the bottom of the first page of his MS.

I first met Fareed almost 8 years ago, in September, 2009 at UCB, when I gave a lecture on Poe and Rampo for Professor Miryam Sas’s class on film studies. In retrospect, I and Professor Michiko Shimokobe of Seikei University have known Miryam herself for nearly a couple of decades. Therefore, I was very happy to accept her invitation and enjoyed a heated discussion with her students including Fareed.

Today’s workshop was made possible through my recent conversation with Fareed, who had made every effort to complete his Ph. D. dissertation on film studies entitled “Visions of Power: Violence, the Law, and the Post-9.11 Genre Film,” with Professor Sas as his mentor. While he was writing the dissertation, Fareed dropped me a note a couple of years ago, revealing his plan to visit Japan. So, we enjoyed reunion at the National Art Center, Tokyo, and it turned out that we have shared many interests in what could well be called the mode of “Border Narrative” in literature and film, which I discussed in my recent article “From James Monroe to Marilyn Monroe” printed in Professor Shimokobe’s edited book Monroe Doctrine Reimagined (Sairyusha, 2016). 

I came to know the rise of this genre focusing on the US-Mexico border at Japan PEN Club’s 2013 symposium on misogynistic mass murder committed by a huge drug cartel in Ciudad Juares, featuring Professor Yoshiaki Koshikawa and Professor Shuzo Saito, who were very familiar with this topic closely related with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) as well as  maquiladora de Exportacion. The first symptom was found in the Chillean novelist Robert Bolano’s 2004 metafiction 2666 which succeeded in setting up an analogy between anit-semitist Holocaust in Europe during the WWII and  the conspiracy of sexist massacre in the border town of Mexico. Bolano’s novel is followed by an American popular fictionist Don Winslow’s 2005 novel The Power of the Dog and its sequels Savages published in 2012 and The Cartel published in 2015. I guess Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel Inherent Vice, the third work of his west coast trilogy, could also well be redefined as a border narrative keenly conscious of the conspiracy of the huge drug cartel.

What matters most today is that insofar as the border narrative is concerned, American literary history cannot have its meaning alone. We have already witnessed the stimulating interactions and transactions in the genre of border narrative between literature and film. For example, the year of 2005 saw a coincidence between Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog and Tommy Lee Jones’s directed The Tree Burials of Melquiades Estrada. This coincidence is followed by Gregory Nava’s directed a film Bordertown featuring Jennifer Lopez. The year of 2013 saw Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy, the king of border narrative, completed a film noir The Counselor  featuring Cameron Diaz and Shaul Schwartz’s directed black humor film Narco Cultura.  In 2015 Kathryn Bigelow’s produced Cartel Land and Denis Villeneuve’s directed Sicario were completed. There is no doubt that the border narrative is essential to 21st century narratology as such.

Today Fareed will give us a new perspective on this genre, by illustrating the emergence of a hybrid form of film noir and the border western with special emphasis upon the following three  works: Sicario, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and The Counselor.


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
The Frontiers of Border Narrative under Trump’s Presidency: The Post-9/11 Border Western
Fareed Ben-Youssef (University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. candidate, Film & Media)
*WARNING! NOT FOR CITATION




Thank you so much for the invitation…. This talk stems from my broader dissertation project related to the post-9/11 genre film, violence and the law. Today, I will be focusing on the Post-9/11 Border Western, in particular.

Much of the 2016 election cycle was devoted to the narrative of the US-Mexico border, with candidates labeling the southern frontier as an ever-present vulnerability. Now-President Donald Trump’s language has focused on the border, positioning it as a space where criminals freely pass. Only a wall, he has long argued, can protect the nation from dangerous elements. Although this political discourse has a long history, it gained a particular currency after the 9/11 attacks after which the border became more militarized and the undocumented Mexican migrant was conflated with the Near-Eastern Terrorist. This heightened rhetoric has inspired a particular kind of Western film, what some have called the Border Western.[i] This talk seeks to understand a recent permutation of an understudied subgenre, one which blends together the shadowy iconography of film noir with the grand vistas of the Western, and in which the United States' dream of itself and its nightmare hang perilously close-one where, if we look closely, we might be able to map the frontiers of the border narrative that has come to dominate and define the Trump presidency.

My talk therefore has several objectives:
  1. Show how genre forms, like the Western, hold sway over executive discourse. 
  2. Detail how 9/11 has sparked a Panopticon Border, a heavily militarized and hyper-surveyed US-Mexico border space. 
  3. Define the formal and thematic qualities of the Post-9/11 Border Western. For brevity’s sake, I will refer to the form as simply the Border Western.
  4. Describe how key Border Westerns visualize and question this Panopticon Border-shifting between the eyes of the jailer, prisoner, and eager bystander.
  5. Position Border Westerns (and genre cinema, more broadly) as an invaluable mode of human rights critique.

Before we might meditate on the discourse of President Donald Trump, we should first return to one of his forerunners, President George W. Bush, to better understand how such forms of story-telling manifest themselves within the language of state leaders. During the opening stages of the War on Terror, President Bush configured the conflict in terms of the Western. The head of the U.S. government situated the war less as an abstract transnational conflict and more as a metaphorical showdown between the sheriff George W. Bush and the outlaw Osama bin Laden. On September 17, 2001, responding to a reporter's question about whether he wanted the Al Qaeda leader dead, Bush responded, “I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West, I recall, that says ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’” (“Bush: Bin Laden”). The president transformed himself into a mythic hero operating with as clear and as stark a moral code as a Western gunslinger who would save the terrorized town that was post-9/11 America. Bush employed the language of genre to frame his administration's acts, situating the far-reaching executive and legislative response to the attacks as a “larger mythic narrative” (Jameson 3).

This instance is just one among many that provoke questions: how does the state mobilize genre expectations to potentially neutralize the views of the human cost of force-driven policies? As a rhetorical mode that might validate state violence by making it spectacular, does the genre form provoke the spectator to reckon with the collusion of their own attraction toward this aspect of spectacle? The three Border Westerns that form the core of this talk—Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario (2015), Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy’s The Counselor (2013)—are all deeply self-critical, meditating upon the disquieting allure of genre and how its viscerally satiating qualities might be both commented upon and challenged.

These three genre films about the borderlands are crucial in my broader study concerning the interrelation of post-9/11 genre film, violence and the law, and explore one of the spaces most affected politically following the 9/11 attacks. Political Scientist Tony Payan, who specializes in border studies, finds that, following the 9/11 attacks, “No geographical area of the country underwent as intensive and extensive changes as the U.S.-Mexico border” (100). The years following 9/11 saw a rise in border militarization as well interior enforcement.[ii] Somewhat irrationally, as Payan finds, the border has often been cited as a central reason for the attacks and an ever-present vulnerability, so that “the state of the [nation’s] border was viewed as a national security threat” (94).  Emblematic of this fear-filled rhetoric, and despite all evidence to the contrary, U.S. Representative Sue Merick claimed in 2005 that “terror was spilling across the border” (qtd. in Payan 2). The attacks both exposed and exacerbated the marginalized position of the Mexican migrant, documented and undocumented, who was conflated with the wartime enemy. Reflecting upon the shifting conceptions of the Mexican worker, an El Paso community organizer found that “from [9/11] on, everyone across the border was a potential threat” (qtd. in Jones 109).

Within this paranoid climate, policy changes transformed the border into a hyper-surveyed space akin to a post-9/11 war zone. These Border Westerns often frame the omnipresence of police surveillance upon border actors, figuring the state’s sight as a kind of haunting phantom. They emblematize Tony Payan view’s that the policy related to the Drug War and especially the War on Terror has ensured that a “Panopticon Border” is emerging. Building on Jeremy Bentham’s model for a prison where the prisoners are always in view of unseen jailers and which has been theorized by Michel Foucault, Panyan writes that such a border is one “where everyone is under surveillance at all times, where everyone is tracked in every move, where everyone can be brought under the swift control of the government” (Payan 114). In their shared paranoia toward the eye[iii] of the state, I argue that these films visualize the end result of post-9/11 legal transformations, the rise of “The Panopticon Border.” What, such Border Westerns ask, are the costs and impacts of such an effort at panoptic vision, and what may be its discomfiting pleasures?  In answering these questions, these films productively change our vantage points across this panopticon.

To reiterate, in the Panopticon (whose model can be seen here), the jailers (at the center) can see all the prisoners, the prisoners though can never see the jailers. These films are exciting and vital, I find, because they offer us a chance to see both views of this prison.

This will talk will thus argue how Sicario offers the jailer’s view of the Panopticon Border-the detached drone eye of the state, Three Burials offers the prisoner’s view-the death-laced perspective of the hyper-surveyed Mexican undocumented migrant, and finally, The Counselor offers the bystander’s view-the individual who either ignores or delights in the violence of the panoptic border space.




Before more fully exploring each of these perspectives as articulated within the films, it is worth asking: what makes a Border Western? Sicario provides a very clear and salient answer. The film offers a mission statement for the genre form when its hero FBI agent Kate Macer asks if her inter-agency drug taskforce operates within the law’s boundaries. Her superior answers, “The boundaries have been moved.” Such films are always set at the US-Mexico border and move the boundary between the Western genre and its liberating, wide-open landscapes and film noir, a nihilistic often urban form marked by shadow and a claustrophobic atmosphere.

This next slide shows a visual division between the two genres as they are classically defined—note the Western’s sun dappled expanse and film noir’s dark and foreboding confines.

In Sicario, one shot in particular, in which Macer visits the Wild Pony Bar, brings Film noir and the Western together. The purple light of a neon sign bathes the hero while the silhouette of a stallion-riding cowboy looms in the background. Gazing with incredulity at the Western imagery around her, Macer exclaims, “Where have you taken me? What is this place? It’s full of cowboys!” The film frames the Western, presented at its most gaudy and kitsch, as suspect and estranging within a noir universe. The superior’s line regarding shifting boundaries also identifies another key feature of the Border Western—its investment in an amorphous US-Mexico border space, one where the controversial policies that have marked America’s foreign wars come home. To that end, the film is saturated with drone imagery, images of soldiers walking the prairie, and features an extensive sequence of interrogation, where water-boarding is heavily implied. Such films also move the boundary between life and death, containing extensive imagery of decomposing remains. During the film’s opening scene, FBI agents uncover rotten bodies within the walls after they conduct a drug raid on a suburban home. Plastic sheets obscure the individualizing features of these victims of the Drug War. The opening suggests that the border rests on an unseen and un-mourned mass death.  Finally, Sicario embodies the Border Western probing of its own viewer’s moral boundaries. It begins to ask: how does one confront an implicating suffering, caused in large part by American public’s appetites for drugs, the same public that watches such genre films? The film gestures to such concerns in a scene wherein the revenge-seeking mercenary Alejandro confronts a Mexican cartel boss who had his wife and child killed. The confrontation takes place while the cartel boss dines with his own family. Like a noir specter sitting at the head of table, the mercenary notes, “Every night you have families killed, and yet here you dine.” These accusatory words could in one view apply to the viewer of genre who dines on images of suffering to fulfill their own taste for blood.

Now that we have firmer grasp of the formal and thematic contours of the Border Western—we can move into the core feature of my analysis—how they mediate and critique the Panopticon Border by their shifting of viewpoints across the figurative prison that is this Southern frontier. Sicario—a film centered upon FBI agent Kate Macer and how she grows disillusioned with her own government’s amoral actions in the Drug War—offers the jailer’s perspective, the state’s view upon this Panopticon and its inhabitants which it perceives as an enemy of the state. In a tense shoot-out at a US-Mexico Border Crossing, the film emulates the paranoid mentality of Macer and her American colleagues. The scene’s momentum builds on the government’s vehicles moving quickly out of Juarez, until it comes to a lengthy pause at the border as Macer and her team become trapped between other cars coming out of Mexico. The camera’s position in the car underlines that it shares Macer’s perspective. The hero looks out of her vehicle, gazing at row upon row of Mexican profiles. Having previously established that anyone might be from the cartels, every surrounding Mexican person seems to be a danger. Performing a kind of visual metaphor for racial profiling in this Border Crossing sequence-an action that the film ironically gestures toward through the shot’s composition (—a visual pun that is better illustrated by the above detail from that still)—the film pushes audiences to share a perpetrating, suspicious perspective of the state agents.

Reinforcing the spectacular distance, the film presents a magisterial final set piece that cycles between surveillance footage from the FBI’s night vision, the army’s infrared, and the CIA’s drone view, making for a disorienting sequence which creates a visceral appreciation of the kind of sight that reduces humans on the border to little more than specks and blurs. Before their operation begins, the camera faces our hero in a mid-shot through the military’s infrared filter, so that she visually resembles a grey form, as if hollowed out by her experience where she has become estranged from her own country’s political regime. As the agents approach a drug cartel tunnel, the film luxuriates in the highly abstracted vision, drained of color and marked by obscuring grain. Before the infrared camera passes by the dead body, the camera pans down to traces of footsteps on the ground, confirming our surveillance vision’s capacity to see beyond the human. Arriving at the corpse, the face of the dead cartel member is entirely obscured in the white light of his fading body heat, a juxtaposition that implies how this superhuman vision of the state can reduce our capacity for empathy. Sicario thus shows an awareness of what (and who) is lost by this spectacular, panoptic vision upon the border.




If Sicario rests largely in the jailer’s view, then Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada occupies that of the prisoner of the Panopticon Border. Historian Mae M. Ngai identifies the illegal alien as an impossible subject—one stripped of all rights who exists within a legal limbo where their immigration status denies them their humanity (A note on her language, before I move forward: Ngai mobilizes the term “illegal alien” concurrently with “undocumented migrant,” showing the insidious dimension of state and legal discourses—how they can seem to mark a person as outlaw and contain a dehumanizing dimension even within studies ostensibly designed to critique such practices). In Three Burials, I argue, Jones visualizes the limbo of the impossible subject to articulate the psychological toll of the status for the undocumented. Examining the film against the fearful discourse surrounding immigration after 9/11 which often conflated the Mexican and the terrorist, Three Burials exposes the discursive process by which the migrant is transformed into a potential threat. Through the use of reflections and point-of-view shots, director Tommy Lee Jones invites the spectator to experience the prisoner’s entrapped view—to imagine oneself marked as such an impossible subject that the must be controlled and expulsed.

The plot of Three Burials centers around a ranch hand Pete’s quixotic quest to bury his friend Melquiades back in Mexico, a friend who was killed by a Border Patrol agent. Reminiscent of how Sicario’s opening sequence contains images of rotting Mexican bodies within the walls of a suburban home, Three Burials first presents the titular Melquiades as a corpse. In so doing, the film gestures to how undocumented migrants are envisioned within the public discourse as dehumanized archetypes.[iv] Filmed upside-down in the center of the frame, the dead worker appears on a metal slab in the county morgue. His milky eyes are turned away from the camera, hinting at the impossibility of perceiving this figure on fully human terms. The inverted view of Melquiades points to a topsy-turvy world that the film hopes to expose, where such migrants are viewed as fodder for the rifles of Border Patrol and analogous law enforcement agencies. Further sharpening the edge of the film’s sociopolitical commentary on U.S. policy and public discourse is the shot’s color scheme. The blue hue of the scene, coupled with the dried red blood and the dead man’s stained white shirt, sardonically echo the colors of the American flag. Three Burials thus issues its mission statement in its first image of Melquiades: the film intends to probe the border, where American ideals appear as inverted and skewed as this camera’s initial view.

In the very morbidity of the opening image of Melquiades, Three Burials creates a visual metaphor for the disenfranchised condition of  the undocumented persons as described by historian Mae M. Ngai—as impossible subjects, a “social reality and a legal impossibility—a subject barred from citizenship and without rights” (4). Ngai argues that these impossible subjects linger in a limbo where their immigration status deprives them not only of their rights but in some sense their very ability to be perceived as fully human. After 9/11, immigration scholar Tanya Golash-Boza finds that “a heightened, yet unsuccessful frenzy to find dangerous people has created a climate of fear in immigrant communities across the U.S.” (8).  Jones’s film, by way of its nightmarish staging against a more grounded depiction of Melquiades’s alienation while alive, structures a macro-level critique of border policy within a micro-level exploration of the anguish caused by societal and legal stigmatization.

Melquiades’s feeling of being ostracized stems from his outsider status, equivalent to that of Ngai’s impossible subject. His own visible discomfort with urban spaces highlights the toll of this demarcation of difference, where the attention of the U.S. government represents the possibility of expulsion. The film evokes this sentiment formally in a scene where it situates Melquiades against the mass media. It expresses Melquiades’s fractured psyche, cracked by fear and the label of difference, when he wanders alone toward a window display of televisions. Melquiades’s reflection in the glass shows a man in shadow. The composition makes it appear as though Melquiades confronts his doppelganger, a silhouette radiating out of the TV.  In this moment of literal reflection, we see Melquiades perceive himself as other, confronting an undifferentiated impression, less a human than a ghost that lingers within the media.

The scene ends with a shot of Melquiades coming out of his reverie when his friend Pete sneaks up beside him to exclaim, “Can I see some ID?,” thereby situating the scene within a legal context where Border Patrol could indeed ask for such material based on nothing more than limited articulable facts.  The ghostlike impossible subject is haunted by the state, whose very presence keeps him in a psychic and literal limbo.

To borrow Foucault’s terms, “visibility is a trap” for Melquiades. The film shows how the white man begins to empathize with the dead Mexican, coming to share his feeling of claustrophobia in a South Texas town. When Pete realizes that the local authorities will not investigate the circumstances of his friend’s death, Pete sees the setting anew. Having decided to abduct Melquiades’s killer, he sits waiting in front of the patrolman’s home. The presence of steel fences in the scene-first when a nearby neighbor chains up her dog and then in a point-of-view shot when the Border Patrolman’s vehicle arrives-underlines how Pete has come to perceive the American Border Town as a stifling prison. Via the iconography of entrapment that calls to mind the security fences across the U.S.-Mexico border, the scene shows Pete’s visceral understanding of his friend’s alienation. He comes to inhabit the subject position of those affected by what anthropologist Gilberto Rosas describes as “policeability,” which labels persons like Melquiades as “worthy of dying in the treacherous geography of the border or daily forms of surveillance” (qtd. in Golash-Boza 150).  In obtaining the perspective of a policable subject, the Texan no longer sees a life within the United States as tenable.

Three Burials, with its portrayal of emerging empathy toward the Othered subject, where all come to share his trapped perspective, is counterbalanced by another recent Border Western: Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy’s 2013 The Counselor.[v] The plot of The Counselor chronicles the downfall of a criminal lawyer, known only as the counselor.  In this heightened setting mirroring the inflamed rhetoric surrounding the border space, where cheetahs roam wild and razor wire extends tautly, a noir feeling of claustrophobia and menace emerges.  If Jones’s Three Burials tries to uncover the human lost within the discourse around a border tinged by post-9/11 fear along with the ensuing shifts in legal policy, The Counselor, infused with the generic tropes of noir, considers the very lack of humanity within such a discourse. It turns its gaze upon the viewer, not to show him a lost humanity, but to meditate upon his own inhumanity. It is concerned in short with the bystander in the Panopticon. Due to such concerns, it is perhaps the most viciously self-critical of the Border Westerns under review.

The Counselor ponders how our own complicity in the violence of the Panopticon Border might be grasped, even briefly. Payan underlines that the end consumer’s understanding of their role in the drug economy is tremendously abstract, since most “live away from the border.  They have no incentive to reach into their consciences and consider the motivations of the drug lords…they are not in the trenches of the border; they cannot see. They cannot care” (49). Payan’s own conclusions concerning a wider inability to see such complicities echoes the conclusions reached by journalist Charles Bowden within his 1998 photo-book Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future. Arguing that the death-laced condition of the inhabitants of the city reflects the hungers of transnational capitalism, Bowden asserts that “accepting such realities is possible, thinking about them is not” (64). He frames the street photography of Juarez as a site of potential contemplation, one that might “get people to look and think about Juarez in order to get past vague terms such as free trade, NAFTA, GATT, and the global village” (Bowden 58). The Counselor moves in parallel with Bowden’s work on photography to probe the role of genre in allowing the viewer, the bystander, to see the consequences of participation in such an economy enmeshed within transnational; drug trade.[vi]

The Counselor most starkly renders this empathy gap when one of the hero’s business associates (played by Brad Pitt) is beheaded in the London streets, a scene that also exemplifies the differing materialities of violence within the film-here, the frictionless violence of the market’s invisible hand meets a grotesque one grounded within a distressing corporality.[vii]

 (Please be aware this is a scene of graphic violence.  As I will argue in the ensuing analysis, I find it to be metaphorically very significant - 2:06:29 - 2:07:41/00:57 - 2:06 in clip)



As we saw, a crowd forms a semicircle around the dying man, thus creating a kind of a stage. No member of this audience looks away. Their pristine clothes are never sullied by the outpouring of crimson in front of their eyes. By placing the camera among the onlookers, their heads appearing in the extreme foreground of the frame while the victim’s lies trembling in the mid ground, the film shows that, in regards to their focus, the film’s viewers resemble the bankers in this scene.[viii] Both are spurred on by a morbid desire to witness extreme gore. When the film cuts from a mid-shot of the razor wire cutting into the skin to a wider overhead shot, the width of the framing matches the distance the blood spurts out of the victim’s neck, thereby signaling that the genre form is dictated by violence. While gore lends genre its formal pulse, the gesture toward the audience during the death scene underscores that film genres like noir and the Western are built upon the spectator’s insatiable desire to be moved by such corporeal rhythms. Earlier, this same colleague tells the counselor about snuff films, recordings that depict actual killings that the drug cartels release. He notes that “the consumer of the product is essential to its production.  You cannot watch without being an accessory to murder.”[ix] The snuff film’s position in the dialogue of the Border Western aligns it with the genres that the film exemplifies. By referencing the victimizing component within the act of watching, the film testifies to the viewer's enmeshment in a web of culpability.

When the film most embraces the visuals convention of the noir city, marked by shadowy spaces whose closed quarters cultivate a profound sense of claustrophobia, it does so to present the most widespread consequence of the Mexican Drug War largely ignored by the American media. The ever-watching eye of the state returns; rather, than that of the American state, the film gleans the vigilant eye of Mexico. As the shell-shocked counselor walks through the streets of Mexico City, having failed to convince the cartel to spare his fiancée, he comes upon a group of Mexicans protesting President Felipe Calderón’s War on Drugs. Calderón endeavored to quell border violence and shake the hold of the cartels upon the north, a policy that led to the deaths of many thousands of citizens and came under international scrutiny.[x]

Visual touches within the film’s protest scene situate the police as the object of the citizens’ collective ire. In the very first shot of the demonstration where the lead speaker cries out against those who have taken the city’s youth, the blue-and-red hues of the police’s emergency lights shine behind her. Lending a personal edge to the disappearances cited by the speaker, the briefly captivated counselor walks by a sign of a smiling young girl. Next to her image is the question “me has visto?,” or “have you seen me?” As the speaker rallies against injustice and murder, the film cuts to a shot from behind the police who stand in shadow, their machine gun perched atop a jeep pointed toward the protesters. Pervasive shadows strip the onscreen officers of any identity, unlike the evenly lit protesters that the film takes efforts to individualize, thus creating a panoptic staging as the jailers are largely unseen, their potential prisoners, though are fully visible. They sit under the aim of the state’s firepower. In keeping with the pessimism of noir, The Counselor has some lingering reservations about the ability of such visions to catalyze a change in thinking. The counselor, our bystander, rather than be moved to action by the scene he comes upon, wanders away just as the wider collective becomes animated and starts to chant for justice. Confused, he pushes past the camera, the photo of a victimized girl becoming lost as the film moves to follow its troubled hero.

The film ends not with the image of the broken counselor but with the femme fatale Malkina, who offers some unnerving musings about the animalistic, self-interested nature of man and his tendency to deceive himself. She ends the film eating with her banker. Talk of her pet cheetahs leads her to wax poetic about the grace of a hunter and its purity of purpose. Malkina then speaks with venom toward humanity defined by a hypocritical division between its ideals and its actions, claiming that “nothing is crueler than a coward.” The film overlies these words on a close-up of the banker looking vaguely unsettled by the sentiment. To this he responds, “I think you’ve told me more than I wished to know,” resisting her words meant to highlight his, and by extension the viewer’s, cowardly savagery and self-delusion. Does the genre form, embodied by this Border Western, reveal the limits of our empathy when our wants come under indictment?

The film ends with Malkina happily dropping the subject and noting in the film’s last line, “Shall we think about ordering?  I’m famished.” The often-critical Border Western admits that for both the participants in the drug trade and the consumers of such a film, the bystanders to such victimization, a hunger and a desire outlast and perhaps overpower more abstract moral concerns.

Our Border Westerns thus fluctuate from the vantage point of the state, their prisoners, and the bystanders who watch. As I reach my conclusion, I would like to ask: how can a genre like the Border Western function as a vital critical mode where human rights violations might be confronted and where a revolutionary violence might be perceived, one defined by a greater humanity for how it reckons with our own propensity for violence? Theorist Walter Benjamin suggests the necessity to reckon with and atone for one’s capacity for violence when defining a kind of divine or saving violence that exists outside of a corrosive legal order. Border Westerns (and genre films more broadly) are uniquely positioned to reflect upon and perform such atonement because they can at once luxuriate in violence and provoke a vital calculus about the ethical stakes of viewers’ relationship to violence, particularly, the pleasure they derive from watching it.[xi]

I would like to linger upon culminating moments from one of the works to consider what they might express about Benjamin’s idea of a “saving violence.” Sicario finds our hero Macer forced to witness the law’s moral emptiness and whose position as a critical outsider threatens the state. After Macer has seen that the state works to sustain a status quo of violence by supporting a single cartel, the mercenary Alejandro visits her home to force her to sign a report that exonerates his team. After she resists, he brings his gun under her chin as he again beckons her to sign. She signs. The legal system appears as a kind of smokescreen for the state used to attest to a governing humanity that no longer exists. It would seem that Macer comes to inhabit a position of total vulnerability. What disruptive saving violence does she wield? The threat she poses, I find, is one of perception. Attuned to the hypocrisy of the state and the victims it ignores, Macer brings out its true face-making its hidden amorality and precarious nature fully visible.

In conclusion, I find that Border Westerns, these refraction points of contemporary border narratives, are of value, for film, border, and human rights scholars, for how they shift our perception on ourselves and the kinds of myths that the state mobilizes. They present the legal realities of the border in palpable mythic or genre terms, allowing us to viscerally understand the human cost of such policies and discourses for the inhabitants of this space. Even as such a genre might permit filmmakers to destabilize boundaries of perpetrator and victim or to find the lost humanity of the impossible subject, the same narrative elements can be employed by the state in ways that efface ambiguity and distort. Sociologist Peter Andreas situates the border as a powerful discursive or narrative tool for the state to symbolically express its continued fight against perceived menaces.  Andreas argues that “the border functions as a kind of political stage,” offering both politicians and police a prime performative space (Andreas 9). Andreas finds that actual results matter far less than the pantomime of an engaged state relentlessly fighting the Drug War and vigilantly fending off illegal immigration (or terrorism as might be the case). Similarly, former Department of Homeland Security Head Michael Chertoff’s thoughts about the effectiveness of a proposed border-spanning security wall highlights the discursive function of these policies. Chertoff claimed that the fence-envisioned during his tenure in the Bush era-was not really a practical measure against illegal immigration and instead had “come to assume a kind of symbolic significance” (qtd. in Jones 51).  Returning to our present political moment, what is the wall's symbolic significance for a president who speaks of a fortified border wall to keep out transnational criminals? Is it a step toward the dream of greater security or toward a nightmare of the nation as prison?  These genre films productively bring such symbolic discourses relating to an all-seeing state to life, while at the same time, articulating the climate of fear they create for the people forced to live within a figurative Panopticon. Ultimately, various shifts in perspective offered by Border Westerns (and genre films generally) are productive for scholars across disciplines who seek to more fully understand border narratives as they offer us a taste of a most disruptive and valuable perception, one that reminds us to be aware of own myopias—be it toward the seductive pull of the jailer’s empowered sight or toward the prisoners such sight reduces to glowing, ghostly abstractions.

Thank you very much for your time & attention! I look forward to your thoughts and questions.


Notes
[i] Delineating the sub-genre of the Border Western may seem unnecessary, in part because of the Western genre’s root preoccupation with the frontier, with that which historian Frederick Jackson Turner influentially described in 1893 as “the meeting point between civilization and savagery” (Turner). Constraining our focus geographically, however, permits for a more incisive exploration of the US-Mexico border space so affected by post-9/11 policy and occupying a space within the public discourse as vulnerability. At the same time, framing the Border Western allows for an appreciation of the unique formal qualities of these cited films that stand at the meeting point between the tropes of the Western and those of noir. This chapter extends the critical work of film scholar Camilla Fojas who finds a preponderance of Westerns about the borderlands beginning in the mid-2000’s (including the film Three Burials discussed above). In her essay “Hollywood Border Cinema: Westerns with a Vengeance,” Fojas productively identifies central themes of these formally unstable films noting: “Many of the films that take place on or near the borderlands express “American” anxieties, messianic prophesies, and fears about porous boundaries and the integration of the hemisphere through political intervention, economic globalization, and the transnational migration of people and goods” (Fojas 98). My analysis of the Border Western, though in many ways parallel to that of Fojas, emphasizes the formal features of these generically unstable films. Through such awareness, I explore how these anxiety-ridden Border Westerns articulate a meta-level anxiety regarding genre’s ability to engage the viewer with the subject who is made Other within political discourse as well as contemplate his own complicity and pleasure in that subject’s suffering.

[ii] Legal scholars have articulated that 9/11 brought renewed attention to the border space as a site of vulnerability. In Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in the United States, India, and Israel, Reece Jones writes that the looming threat of attack “did provide the necessary fear effect to make border security an immediate priority” (Jones 6). The goals of the recently created Department of Homeland Security included “effective control of the physical borders and approaches to the United States” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Bush Administration documentation highlighted how national boundaries became a frontline of the War on Terror. A border security fact sheet from the 2002 budget stated, “The massive flow of people and goods across our borders help drive our economy, but it can also serve as a conduit for terrorism” (“Securing America’s Borders”).  Legislators often spoke of the terrorist threat crossing the southern border as they proposed projects such as security fences across the U.S.-Mexican line. Even legal scholars often ignore the long history of border militarization and fear-filled discourse when they consider recent developments, as encapsulated by Tanya Maria Golash-Boza’s assertion: “the War on Terror has translated into a war on immigration” (142).

As reductive as a simplistic rupture narrative is in conceiving of a post-9/11 immigration policy, it is worth understanding that the attacks both exposed and exacerbated the marginalized position of the illegal migrant. They had a discursive impact as they shifted the conception of the migrant worker, allying him more directly with the transnational enemy, thereby engendering an atmosphere that permitted the passing of new laws that disenfranchised illegal aliens while extending the power of executive actors like the Border Patrol. Previously, under the laws passed in the 1990s, such as Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Border Patrol had the right to perform searches for aliens in any vehicle within 100 miles of the border. Supreme Court rulings from earlier decades stated that the Border Patrol could in fact stop vehicles and investigate the immigrant status of occupants based on vague, “articulable” facts, like personal appearance (qtd. in Jones 113). The events of 9/11 reinforced the existing condition that legally allowed for forms of racial profiling and the suspension of Fourth Amendment rights near the border. Detailing the raids on immigrants led by the DHS and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Golash-Boza argues that there was little judiciary oversight of these actions (61). The type of actions reflected a legal landscape where the executive was ever more empowered both in general and in regards to border security and laws such as the REAL ID Act of 2005. This bill allowed DHS to waive existing regulations in building projects related to shoring up the border. The seeming necessity of such freedom from legal bonds is made clear in the language of legislators at the time who proclaimed, “Border security is national security” (qtd. in Jones 46).  Following 9/11, more funds were sent toward the border and more agents sent to patrol it.

Such legislative processes centered on the Mexican-American space seemed particularly ineffective to combat terrorism when one considers that the only known terrorist to come into the United States legally crossed the Canadian border (Spickard 438). DHS head Michael Chertoff’s thoughts about the effectiveness of a proposed security fence highlight the discursive function of these policies. Chertoff claimed that the fence was not really a practical measure against illegal immigration and instead had “come to assume a kind of symbolic significance” (qtd. in Jones 51). What was the symbolic significance of the Mexican illegal immigrants that crossed into an ever more fortified border that seemed to be infused with the concerns of the U.S. fight against terrorism?

[iii] On the allure of surveillance, Jeremy Bentham, the creator of the concept of the Panopticon, wrote that, for the family of the jailer charged with overseeing the panopticon, the sight of the prisoners “will supply in their instance the place of that great and constant fund of entertainment to the sedentary and vacant town—the looking out of the window. The scene, though confined, would be a various, and therefore, not altogether an unamusing one” (Bentham). The Counselor, suggests the fraught attraction of such entertainment, of a world where citizens are like prisoners, vulnerable to the surveyor’s sight.

[iv] The film’s predilection for intertextual gesture, from its formal homages to a host of Western films and art historical movements, encourages a consideration of Melquiades’ names as a wink to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria, in his essay “Cien anos de soledad: The Novel as Myth and Archive,” argues that the novel stood as “a razing involv[ing] the various mediations through which Latin America was narrated, the systems from which fiction borrowed truth-bearing forms, erased to assume the new mediation, which requires [a] level-ground of self and history” (Echevarria 367). The Melquiades of the novel embodies Márquez’s project to drain and mine truth in the service of fiction. A historical archivist who only collects fictional works, Melquiades seems to be a transtemporal figure, at once young and old. His archive “stands for writing, for literature for . . . an arche, a relentless memory that disassembles the fictions of myth, literature and even history” (373). The prism of Márquez’s Melquiades frames the film’s Melquiades as a figure ensnared by fictions. By the film and its heroes, the Mexican is seen and remembered as less a man than a structuring fiction that exists outside of time.

[v] All readings in this talk are based on the extended cut of the film released on 11 February 2014.

[vi] For our purposes, Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future is also of interest for how its author meditates on how the realities of Juarez do not lend themselves to the pat conventions of genre cinema, particularly of the police procedural. He asserts that the “movies have not taught us to deal with such a condition,” one that “suggests that the violence may be general, not singular, deep-rooted, not ephemeral” (Bowden 102). The filmmakers behind The Counselor harness the generic tropes and the glossy trappings of Hollywood—particularly its A-List stars—to teach audiences about this systemic and ephemeral violence. The force of this work might be best embodied in a shot that appears indebted to the roughly composed photos of bodies that fill Bowden’s compendium. The film presents a shot of Laura’s corpse, played by Penelope Cruz, within the trash heaps of the city—an image that would fit perfectly in Bowden’s work. By placing the glitterati of Hollywood within the macabre imagery of the Drug War, The Counselor acts as a pedagogical tool. Unlike Bowden and his artist-subjects who speak of photography of violence in utopian terms—as an undeniable route to truth for its viewers—Scott and McCarthy remain aware of the form’s limits to enlighten.

[vii] Imogen Sara Smith, in her essay on classic examples of noir Western, fruitfully suggests that such an immense landscape can accentuate the morally corroded qualities of its hero where the “splendor of the western scenery merely shows up the sordid pettiness of the men traveling through it” (Smith). Reading the 1947 film Ramrod, Smith claims that rocky cliffs in the Western film are “as vertiginous as the towers of a city” and share a similarly oppressive aspect. Indeed, the critic suggests that noir tropes might even sap the landscape of its majesty, drawing into view a desiccated space.  Coming so late in a film filled with images where sublime expanse is made claustrophobic, The Counselor encourages a view of the city, even one lit in the midday sun and free of any explicit markers of noir, as a stifling setting where extreme violence might flare to the surface.

[viii] The bankers’ unwillingness to help the victim of cartel silence in the scene is ironic since the institutional support of established financial institutions sustains the drug cartels. In one particularly egregious true case, a compliance officer at Wachovia found that the bank had laundered hundreds of billions of dollars for a Mexican drug cartel. After the bank was penalized with a small fine, less than 0.04% of the total amount laundered, the individual who discovered the malpractice was fired. He later noted, “There was no consequence for anyone dealing with that money. Some other compliance officers broke the rules and they kept their jobs. I obeyed all the rules, blew the whistle and lost my job” (Arsenault).

The Counselor draws a more direct parallel between drug dealers and financiers earlier in the film. In a scene where traffickers unload cocaine from a septic truck, a financier in a blazer and a trafficker in mechanic’s overalls discuss the loopholes in international trading. The satisfied words of the financier discussing the minutia of his malfeasance are overlaid against images of bricks of cocaine, correlating the abstract extralegal activity described with the tangible commodities of the drug trade. Capping off their discussion, the trafficker laughingly remarks, “Shit, you know, of all the people, you and I should know if electronic money earns an extra day of interest when it crosses an international date line.” Although these words link the two men and the enterprises they each represent, the financier’s final request points to their shared depravity. He asks whether he can see the body that was hidden in one of the truck’s oil drums as a punishment for offending the drug cartels. At this morbid curiosity, even the trafficker is surprised. The scene shows that the actors operate with the same perpetrating mentality, the very same disinterest in the human costs of their activities. Several of the scene’s reverberations with the drug trade, from the setting of the financial center of Chicago, a major hub of cartel activity in the United States, to the practice of entambados, where cartels dispose of bodies by placing them in oil barrels, reinforce the terrible reality of this connection (Morris; Payan 46).

[ix] Although cartels have been known to employ spectacular acts of violence to frighten local populations, even posting killings on YouTube, writings about the drug economy have noted that violence is a core feature of day-to-day business operations (Martin 44). As Evelyn Krache Morris wrote in a 2013 article on the expansive business model of the drug cartels, resembling less a gang than Wal-Mart in its logistical scale, “Violence…is not a function of the drug trade specifically. It is how the cartels manage everything from marketing to public relations to human resources” (Morris).  Part of the horror of The Counselor is in how it demonstrates that horrible acts of violence, including the filmed murder of Laura, testify not to the presence of a malevolent evil, but to the routine costs of doing business. What, the film pushes us to the wonder, is our role in such economic exchanges?

[x] Andreas’s translations of Calderón’s language about his War on Drug shows that the president positioned his endeavor in the same Manichean terms as Bush did his War on Terror in 2001. Calderón stated: “It will be an all-out war, because the possibility of coexisting with drug trafficking organizations is no longer viable. There’s no turning back. It’s us or them” (qtd. in Andreas 150). His “us or them” line brings to mind Bush’s words, “You are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This linguistic echo reinforces the shared rhetorical base of these two wars, shedding light on why they are so often conflated by executive actors.

[xi] My thinking builds on Miryam Sas’s exploration of the possibility of portraying divine violence in Ōshima Nagisa’s 1967 animated film Ninja bugeichō (Band of ninja). Sas defines divine violence in the context of Oshima in visual terms as one that “moves edges, switches the lines around, changes fixed frames and perspectives” (Sas 265). For Sas, how blood is framed in the animated film encourages an appreciation of enduring revolutionary energies that run across time and history. Her analysis pushes me to investigate how these Westerns, invested in the legal order’s limited ability to preserve the humanity of the individual, posit alternatives to Manichean thinking based on fear and hatred, even as they encourage a new perspective on one’s own perpetration and one’s own natural violence that has been rendered invisible within broader economies.


Bibliography
  • Andreas, Peter. Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.
  • Arsenault, Chris. “Dirty Money Thrives Despite Mexico Drug War.aljazeera.com. Al Jazeera, 17 July 2012. Web. 15 November 2014.
  • Benjamin, Walter. “Critique of Violence.” Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Ed. Peter Demetz. New York: Schocken, 1986. 277-300.
  • Bentham, Jeremy. The Panopticon Writings. Ed.Miran Bozovic. London: Verso, 1995. 29-95 
  • Bowden, Charles. Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future. New York: Aperture, 1998.
  •  “Bush: Bin Laden ‘wanted dead or alive.’” CNN.com. 17 Sept. 2001. Cable News Network LP, LLLP. 1 Aug 2012. 
  • The Counselor [unrated extended cut]. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perfs. Michael Fassbender and Cameron Diaz. Twentieth Century Fox. iTunes Edition. 2014.
  • Correa-Cabrera, Guadalupe, and José Nava. “Drug Wars, Social Networks, and the Right to Information: Informal Media as Freedom of Press in Northern Mexico.” A War That Can’t Be Won: Binational Perspectives on the War on Drugs. Eds. Tony Payan, Z. Anthony Kruszewski, and Kathleen A. Staudt. Tucson: University of Arizona, 2013. 95-118.
  • Fojas, Camilla. “Border Cinema: Westerns with a Vengeance.” Journal of Popular Film and Television 39.2 (2011). 93-101.
  • Foucault, Michel. “Discipline and Punish, Panopticism.” Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Ed. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1977. 195-228. Web. 15 April. 2016.
  • Human Rights Watch. Neither Rights Nor Security: Killings, Torture, and Disappearances in Mexico’s ‘War on Drugs.’ 2011.
  • Golash-Boza, Tanya Maria. Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post-9/11 America. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2011.
  • Jones, Reece. Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in the United States, Israel, and India. London: Zed, 2012.
  • Jameson, Fredric. The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. 
  • Martin, William C. “Cartels, Corruption, Carnage, and Cooperation.” A War That Can’t Be Won. Binational Perspectives on the War on Drugs. Ed. Tony Payan, Z. Anthony Kruszewski, and Kathleen A. Staudt. Tucson: University of Arizona, 2013. 33-64.
  • Martinez, Oscar J. Border Boom Town: Ciudad Juarez since 1848. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978.
  • McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, Or the Evening Redness in the West. New York: Random House, 1985.
  • --. No Country for Old Men. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.
  • Mitchell, Lee Clark. Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • Morris, Evelyn Krache. “Think Again: Mexican Drug Cartels.” Foreign Policy. FP Group, 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
  • Nava, Jose. “Gagging the Media: The Paramilitarization of Drug Trafficking Organizations and Its Consequences on the Freedom of Press in the Texas-Tamaulipas Border Region.” M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Brownsville.
  • Ngai, Mae M. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.
  • No Country for Old Men. Dirs. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Perfs. Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem. 2007. DVD. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2008.
  • Payan, Tony. The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006.
  • Prats, Armando José. Invisible Natives: Myth and Identity in the American Western. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2002.
  • Recchia, Edward. “Film Noir and the Western.” The Centennial Review 40.3 (1996): 601-14.
  • Redmond, Helen. “The Political Economy of Mexico’s Drug War.” isreview.org. International Socialist Review, July 2013. Web. 01 Nov. 2014.
  • Rosa, Joseph G. The Gunfighter: Man or Myth? Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969.
  • Rosas, Gilberto. “The Managed Violences of the Borderlands: Treacherous Geographies, Policeability, and the Politics of Race.” Latino Studies 4 (2006): 401-18. 
  • Sas, Miryam. “Moving the Horizon: Violence and Cinematic Revolution in Oshima.” Mechademia 7 (2012): 264-80.
  • Securing America’s Borders Fact Sheet: Border Security.” georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Office of the Press Secretary. 25 Jan. 2002. Web. 1 Aug. 2014.  
  • Sicario. Dir. Denis Villeneuve. Perfs. Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro. 2015. Amazon Streaming Edition. Lionsgate, 2015.
  • Smith, Imogen Sara. “Past Sunset: Noir in the West.” Bright Lights Film Journal. Nov.2009. Web. 15 August 2014. 
  • Spickard, Paul R. Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity. New York: Routledge, 2007. 
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Dir. Tommy Lee Jones. Perfs. Tommy Lee Jones and Barry Pepper. 2005. DVD. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2006.
  • Turner, Frederick Jackson. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” (1893) learner.org. Annenberg Foundation, 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. 
  • Thomson, David. “Cormac McCarthy’s Disastrous Hollywood Debut.” newrepublic.com. The New Republic. 23 October 2013. Web. 1 March 2015. 
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Private Sector Office. “DHS Resources Related to Securing and Managing Our Borders.” United States Government, 2012.
  • Warshow, Robert. “Movie Chronicle: The Westerner.” 1954. Film Theory and Criticism. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
The Reality and the Fictionality of Border Western Films
Kaori Hosono (D3, Keio University)




On January 27th 2017, the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox said, “We [Mexico and the United States] are at the very lowest point since the war between Mexico and the United States” on NBC’s Today show. It is significant that he referred to the US-Mexican War to argue that relations between the two countries are in a state of abnormally high tension under Trump’s presidency. The US-Mexican War was prompted by the 1845 US annexation of Texas and lasted for about two years. As we know, the origin of El Paso, TX and Juàrez, Mexico dates back to that war. This pair of cross-border towns were originally the same town, Villa Paso del Norte. After the US-Mexican War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the Rio Grande as the border between Mexico and the United States, and the northern part of Villa Paso del Norte was separated from the rest of the town and would later become El Paso, Texas. Villa Paso del Norte in Mexico was renamed Juárez in honor of Benito Juárez in 1888.

Though he was at the end of his career, James Fenimore Cooper was contemporary to the US-Mexican War and wrote the naval history of the war in 1847. When the war began, Cooper supported it by saying, “The nation is aroused, and goes into it, with great good will” (qtd. in Johannsen 201). He had a critical attitude toward the war, but he still believed in the nation’s “good will” and popular opinion was the same. During and after the US-Mexican War, various dime novels and novelettes were published; most of them describe American soldiers as redeemers who save the oppressed Mexican people. The United States has always pursued the Utopia beyond the border, professing its legitimacy and the nation’s dignity. This ambition for expansion causes distortion in the borderland. In today’s presentation, Fareed argued that Border Western films reflect the contemporaneous foreign affairs through their violence I would like to make a brief comment on the films set on the US-Mexican border, from the viewpoint of reality and fictionality.

In the 2015 crime film Sicario, FBI agent Kate Macer flies to El Paso, Texas to participate in a joint task force to aid in the war against drugs on Mexican border. However, she realizes that her final destination is not El Paso, but Juàrez, Mexico. The team’s first task is to extradite a prisoner from Juàrez to El Paso. In advance of the mission, Macer searches images of the terrible situation of the Mexican drug war and feels a chill of horror. It is rather absurd that the professional FBI agent shudders at the search result on the screen like a curious teenager.

The notorious city of Juàrez also appears in the 2013 thriller movie The Counselor. Juàrez is a kind of a symbol for the bloody Mexican war on drugs. The place name itself holds the power to conjure gruesome images that float around the internet world. Juàrez is located at the threshold between reality and fictionality in people’s minds because of the unimaginable violence that happens there almost every day.

A documentary film, Narco Cultura (2013) directed by Shawl Shwartz, features two people in totally contrasting situations in Juàrez: the Mexican-American narcocorrido singer, Edgar Quintero, and the crime scene investigator, Richi Soto. Narcocorriodo is a subgenre of Mexican folk music and has recently become popular among young people both in the United States and Mexico for its violent lyrics, which praise drug cartel members as dark heroes. While Richi quietly performs his duties at horrific crime scenes in Juàrez, Edgar, who has been brought up in Los Angeles and never been to Mexico, gathers information about the drug war for his songs. Both American and Mexican teenagers get excited over the fictional heroes in Edgar's songs. Edgar and young listeners are incorporated into the transnational drug trade economy before they know it in a broad sense, for some patrons of narcocorrido singers are drug cartel members. In The Counselor, the protagonist keeps his position as a bystander, no matter how far he goes into the drug trade business. It is the fictionality of the Mexican drug war that enables him to stand aloof from the reality of the violence.

However, the fictionality can also bring salvation. In The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), Melquiades, a Mexican illegal immigrant who works as a cowboy in Texas, entreats his friend Pete to bury him in Jiménez, his homeland “filled with beauty” if he dies. After Melquiades was accidentally shot to death by Border Patrol officer Norton, Pete heads for Jiménez with Melquiades’s body and the murderer to inhume his friend, only to find that the place does not exist. Jiménez is Melquiades’s imaginary paradise. In order to survive in the US as a forlorn illegal immigrant, he needed something he could rely on, and that was Jiménez, his imaginary homeland. Pete finds a beautiful place in a valley where clear water wells up, which is exactly like Merquiades’s description of Jiménez, and buries him with Norton’s help. The purpose of Pete’s journey is not only to mourn his friend, but also to make Norton atone for his crime. Pete creates the fictional homeland for the dead illegal immigrant, and the fictionarity of the place soothes the souls of the victim and the murderer.

The tragedy in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is caused by the border between the United States and Mexico. President Trump made a public commitment to build a wall between the two countries. Whether he will fulfill the campaign pledge or not has yet to be seen, but it is true that his inward foreign policy has brought about discord with Mexico. The Border Western films reveal the fictionality of the border, confronting us with the reality of the violence that the border causes. The conflict between the reality and the fictionality in Border Western films will give us a clue for answering the question, “what should we do [about Mexico] under Trump’s presidency?”


Bibliography




■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
“Divine Violence” and Border Western Films 
Ryohei Tomizuka (D2, Keio University)




My name is Ryohei Tomizuka. Thank you for the wonderful talk, Mr. Ben-Youssef. Your presentation impressed me a lot, especially about the theme of violence in Border Western Films. So today I will make a brief comment and questions on your lecture, mainly focusing on the concept of a “divine violence” or “saving violence” by Walter Benjamin and related films. In addition to that, I will also briefly refer to another Border Western Film, No Country for Old Men (2007), which Mr. Ben-Youssef included in bibliography section but did not refer to in today’s talk, directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, (Coen brothers), and original novel is written by Cormac Mccarthy, who is also the script writer of The Counselor (2014) directed by Ridley Scott.

In today’s lecture, the motif of “saving violence” in Border Western Films is of great interest for me because the connection between “ethical stakes of viewers’ relationship to violence, particularly, the pleasure they derive from watching it” or “our own propensity for violence” and Benjamin’s “Critique of violence” is totally new to me. You related this idea mainly with the film Sicario (2014), specifically near the last sequence of the film in protagonist Macer’s room about signing and her urge to disclose hypocrisy. I think, however, this idea also can be applicable to other Western Border Films.

At first, it might be informative that I trace Benjamin’s distinction between different forms of violence in his argument and correlate it with the problem of US- Mexican border. For Benjamin, all kinds of violence can be sorted out by the relation with law. And more importantly, he distinguishes two kind of violence from a viewpoint of “means”: 
1.  All violence as a means is either lawmaking or law-preserving. If it lays claim to neither of these predicates, it forfeits all validity. If follows, however, that all violence as a means, even in the most favorable case, is implicated in the problematic nature of law itself. (Benjamin 287)

For example, Trump’s violence or power, eagerness to build a national border wall against Mexico and Bush’s overly simple doctrine against terrorism are clearly intertwined with violence as a means here. And in Border Western Films, violence is always law-preserving one.

Benjamin criticizes lawmaking or law-preserving violence. At the same time, however, he recognizes the harsh reality based on the context when and where he wrote the text; 1921 Germany, the era of revolutionary general strike. He knew that there were so many conflicts, for instance, according to the today’s theme, the drug war around the border, that could not be settled only by nonviolent resolution. 
2. We are above all obliged to note that a totally nonviolent resolution of conflicts can never lead to a legal contract. For the latter, however peacefully it may have been entered into by the parties, leads finally to possible violence. (287-88; underline added)

Benjamin also explains the links between lawmaking violence and frontier, namely, border:
3. The act of fixing frontiers, however, is also significant for and understanding of law in another respect. Laws and unmarked frontiers remain, at least in primeval times, unwritten laws. A man can unwittingly infringe upon them and thus incur retribution. For each intervention of law that is provoked by an offense against the unwritten and unknown law is called, in contradistinction to punishment, retribution. (296; underline added)

On the one hand, in Border Western Films, we can easily find the scene of punishment and retribution. But on the other hand, we also can find the theme of “atonement” in these films as Mr. Ben-Yousef pointed out. Next, Benjamin discusses the issue from the assumption that violence is sometimes inevitable. He poses a question about another different kind of violence:
4. How would it be, therefore, if all the violence imposed by fate, using justified means, were of itself in irreconcilable conflict with just ends, and if at the same time a different kind of violence came into view that certainly could be either the justified or the unjustified means to those ends, but was not related to them as means at all but in some different way? (293)

For him, this violence has come to do with the god, in comparison with the violence as a means:
5. For it is never reason that decides on the justification of means and the justness of ends, but fate-imposed violence on the former and the God on the latter. (294; underlines added)

Here fate-imposed violence, that is, mystical violence is compared with divine or saving violence referred in Mr. Ben-Yousef’s talk. Benjamin widely compares mythical violence, or fate-imposed, law making/law-preserving violence with divine violence as follows:
6. Just as in all spheres God opposes myth, mythical violence is confronted by the divine. And the latter constitutes its antithesis in all respects. If mythical violence is lawmaking, divine violence is law-destroying; if the former sets boundaries, the latter boundlessly destroys them; if mythical violence brings at once guilt and retribution, divine power only expiates; if the former threatens, the latter strikes; if the former is bloody, the latter is lethal without spilling blood. (297; underlines added)

The first type of violence, “Devine power only expiates” might remind us of Tommy Lee Jones’s violence against the border guard in Three Burials, but for me it has no connection to more relentless violence in Sicario and The Counselor.

The second one, the violence that strikes, is clearly applicable to brutal violence like wild animals in The Counselor, but it may do not fit to the Macer’s urge to disclose hypocrisy in Sicario. I want to know how Mr.Ben-Yousef will react to this point later.

The third one, violence that is lethal without spilling blood is what exactly MacCathy represents in his novel and script, I think. For instance, please note that The Counselor includes the atrocious scene of killing Brad Pitt we saw just now. And I think in No Country for Old Men the shooting scene of the hitman Anton Chigurh portrayed by Javier Bardem, who also starred in The Counselor with also strange hair style, is almost an allegory of Benjamin’s theory. Let me show you the scene in a few minutes.



He uses special arm which does not make a sound, so he can kill people without noise, without any excitement. Besides, his strange logic is also worth notice. Sometimes he did coin toss game with his opponents whether he kills them or not. His violence does not have to do with a means described by Benjamin. Some critics pay attention to his mostly divine violence and allegorical character:
7. . . . and it [No Country for Old Men] is also a symbolic narrative, an allegory of salvation, or even, perhaps, a moral allegory for post-September 11, Neocon America. As a Western, it of course follows certain conventions expected of the genre, … but genre expectations are also thwarted in this narrative. (Welsh 73)

For Welsh and me, No Country for Old Men is another good example of post 9-11 Border Western Film. Chigurh in No Country and Malkina (Cameron Diaz) in The Counselor may symbolize the saving violence of Cormac McCarthy beyond the mystical violence president Donald Trump represents.
Questions
1. How is the idea of “saving violence” is connected with the films like The Three Burials, The Counselor and No Country for Old Men? (Of course, you can mention other films, generally border western films, which also inspires us, I think.) 
2. Could you tell us more detail about the connection between saving violence and our propensity for violence? It’s really an interesting viewpoint but it’s little bit difficult so I can’t understand the meaning of the comparison sufficiently.


Bibliography
  • Benjamin, Walter. “Critique of Violence.” Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Ed. Peter Demetz. Schocken, 1986. 277-300.
  • No Country for Old Men. Dir. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. Miramax Films. 2007.
  • The Counselor [unrated extended cut]. Dir. Ridley Scott. Twentieth Century Fox. 2014.
  • Welsh, Jim. “Borderline Evil: The Dark Side of Byzantium in No Country for Old Men, Novel and Film.” No Country for Old Men: From Novel to Film. Eds. Lynnea Chapman King, Rick Wallach, and Jim Welsh. Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Appendix
Border Wall Films and TV Dramas in Post- September 11 America and Japan:
  • M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines series (2015-), [original novel series by Blake Crouch (2012-14)], The Village (2004)
  • Marc Forster’s World War Z (2013), [original novel by Max Brooks (2006)]
  • Was Ball’s The Maze Runner (2014), [original novel by James Dashner (2009)]
  • Shinji Higuchi’s Attack on Titan (2015, Shingeki-no Kyojin) series, [original comic by Hajime Isayama (2009-)]

In comparison with the wall in border western films, which “come to assume a kind of symbolic significance,” I think some films and TV dramas represent literal wall against the monster after 911. In Wayward Pines, humans fight against the monster called Abbey, building fence around their community to protect from their attack:



Shyamalan also deals with real wall around the community in 2004 film, The Village. In World War Z, we can see the scene of the wall against the invasion of zombies.

Moreover, let me illustrate the point with a Japanese film Attack on Titan series, in which the literal wall serves as the main theme of the work.



For me, these examples might foreshadow the social anxiety leading to Trump’s presidency.


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■










■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
院生レポート
国境、そして現実と虚構の境界
細野香里(博士課程 3年)


UCバークレーの映画学専攻の大学院生ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ氏を囲んでの博士論文執筆ワークショップに、ディスカッサントとして参加した。ディスカッサントを務めるにあたり、これまで話には聞いていても実際に観る機会はなかったメキシコ麻薬戦争ものの映画を鑑賞しなければ話は始まらないということで、私の博士課程 3年目の春休みは穏やかならぬ映像体験に彩られることとなった。“Build a Wall!”と連呼するドナルド・トランプ大統領によってわが国でも俄かに注目を浴びるアメリカ・メキシコ国境地帯であるが、メキシコの麻薬カルテルの悪評はかねてより種々のメディア媒体でも取り上げられてきた。『皆殺しのバラッド』(2013)『カルテル・ランド』(2015) といったドキュメンタリー映画も次々と公開されている。今回のワークショップでは、ファリードはメキシコ麻薬戦争を扱ったフィクション映画 3作品『ボーダーライン』(2015)『メルキアデス・エストラーダの三度の埋葬』(2005)『悪の法則』(2013) を扱い、それぞれの作品の視点登場人物の立場を収監者、囚人、傍観者と定義づけて論じた。その上で、9.11以後の世界における暴力と倫理性への問題提起をする、大変刺激的な議論であった。

私はその応答として、“The Reality and the Fictionality of Border Western Films”と題し簡単な発表をさせていただいた。まず、多くの作品でメキシコ国境地域の象徴として取り上げられているテキサス州エルパソとメキシコのシウダー・フアレスの街の対照性が、米墨戦争にまでさかのぼる歴史的背景を持っていることを確認した。『ボーダーライン』では、メキシコ国境地帯の麻薬戦争収束のための特別任務に就いた主人公の FBI捜査官ケイト・メイサーの最初の仕事は、麻薬カルテルメンバーをフアレスからエルパソヘ国境を越えて移送することであった。『悪の法則』でも、麻薬輸送を請け負うバイク乗りが、フアレスへの矢印が記された案内板を背に道路を疾走するシーンが挿入される。エルパソとフアレスは元々一つの街であり、米墨戦争を機にリオ・グランデ川が国境と定められた際に分断された。アメリカは常にフロンティアを更新し続け、それまで何もなかったところに新たな「境界」を引いてきた。現在メディアを騒がせている国境地帯の麻薬戦争も、その過去の延長線上にある。今回取り上げられた映画作品群は、国境が恣意的に引かれたいわば架空のものであること、その一方で、分断された地域は、「境界」の恣意性とは裏腹な、暴力的な現実に直面せざるを得ないことを示唆している。同時に、「境界」の持つ架空性は救いをもたらす。『メルキアデス・エストラーダの 3度の埋葬』では、国境警備隊員によって誤って殺害されたメキシコ人不法移民メルキアデスの遺体を故郷ヒメネスに埋葬するために、トミー・リー・ジョーンズ演じるカウボーイのピートは国境越えを断行する。ところが、ヒメネスは実在しない地であることが明らかになる。架空の故郷ヒメネスは、異国の地で不安定な身分で生きるメルキアデスの心の拠り所であったのだ。メキシコ国境地帯の麻薬戦争映画によって浮き彫りにされる、暴力とも救いともなり得る「境界」の恣意性、それは 19世紀アメリカのフロンティアを考える上でも根幹となる問題意識である。

最後に、個人的な覚え書きを。ワークショップ開始前、ファリードを三田キャンパスへ案内した。彼は、待ち合わせ場所である地下鉄三田駅 A10番出口にお気に入りのアイスクリームショップのアーモンドチョコレートを手土産に現れた。彼が優れた感性の持ち主であることは、東京タワーの見える大通りに忽然と姿を現すキャンパスを「秘密の花園」と言い表し喜んだことからも見て取れた。余裕をもって待ち合わせをしたため思いのほか時間が余ってしまい、閉店後の殺風景な生協食堂でゆっくり話をすることができた。私の学部時代からの研究内容について熱心に耳を傾け、言葉足らずの拙い説明を聞いただけで研究の肝となる部分をすぐに把握し、面白がってくれたのが印象的だった。若き研究者にこの形容はもはや誉め言葉でもないかもしれないが、まさに知的好奇心旺盛で頭の回転が速い人物であり、なおかつ自分が得た知識をその社交性と行動力でもって外部に精力的に発信していた。今回、同年代のアメリカの大学院生と交流することで、単に知識を得るだけではなく自分の経験の幅を広げ、今後の研究生活の展望を具体的に思い描くことができた。この貴重な機会を与えられたことに深く感謝している。


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
「神的暴力」と国境西部劇映画
冨塚亮平(博士課程 2年)


ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ氏は、「トランプ政権下における国境物語のフロンティア—9.11以降の国境西部劇」と題された発表において、アメリカとメキシコの国境地帯を舞台とするポスト 9.11のアメリカ映画に頻出する「監視」と「暴力」のイメージを、ジェレミー・ベンサムやミシェル・フーコーを参照しつつトニー・パヤンが述べるところの「パノプティコン・ボーダー」の概念を用いて分析した。国境を越えようとする不法入国者は、自らに暴力を行使する相手を「見る」ことなく、一方的に警備隊に「見られる」存在である。ユーセフ氏は、国境地帯においてパノプティコン的な舞台を構成する警備隊(≒看守)、出入国者(≒囚人)、そして傍観者の立場をそれぞれ表現した映画として、ドゥニ・ヴィルヌーブ『ボーダーライン』Sicario (2014), トミー・リー・ジョーンズ『メルキアデス・エストラーダの三度の埋葬』The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), リドリー・スコット『悪の法則』The Counselor (2014) を順に取り上げた。

なかでも興味深かったのが、発表終盤で氏が述べた、ヴァルター・ベンヤミン「暴力批判論」における「神的暴力」の概念と『ボーダーライン』の一場面を結びつける視点である。そこには、パノプティコン・ボーダーにおける視線の非対称と結びついた暴力を超える、なんらかの可能性が孕まれているように思われたからである。 

そこで私は、「「神的暴力」と国境西部劇映画」と題したコメントで、この視点を掘り下げることを企図した。まず、ベンヤミンによる「法」や「手段」をめぐる暴力の分類について改めて跡づけながら、法措定暴力・法維持暴力・神話的暴力・神的暴力が、それぞれ国境西部劇映画やトランプ政権下での国境をめぐる暴力と、どのような関係を切り結ぶこととなるのかを検討した。

その上で、ベン=ユーセフ氏が議論の俎上にあげた三作品に加え、『悪の法則』で脚本を担当したコーマック・マッカーシーが原作の映画、『ノーカントリー』No Country for Old Men (2007) を、ベンヤミン的な神的暴力が典型的にあらわれた作品として論じた。「脅迫的」で「血の匂い」がする神話的暴力に対置される、「衝撃的」で「血の匂いがなく、しかも致命的」(ベンヤミン、『暴力批判論』[岩波書店] 59頁)な神的暴力のイメージは、私にとってはまさに『ノーカントリー』でハビエル・バルデムが演じた殺し屋アントン・シガーの行使する暴力を想起させるものであった。



昨今、ポスト 9.11、トランプ政権下のアメリカにおいては、壁の建設計画を始めとする神話的暴力がクローズアップされつつある。現代の国境西部劇映画に見られる暴力表象は、こうした今日の地政学的布置のもとで、ベンヤミンがかつて記したもう一つの暴力が改めていかなる意義を持ちうるのか、われわれが今後考えていくための一つの大きなヒントを与えてくれるのではないだろうか。


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
そういえば、私たちはオタクだった
内田大貴(博士課程 2年)


2017年 3月 24日アメリカ研究博論執筆ワークショップにて、カリフォルニア大学バークレー校の博士課程在籍中のファリード・ベン=ユーセフさんが、自身の博士論文の一部を話してくれた。内容は、昨今何かと話題にのぼることも多い、アメリカ・メキシコ国境線を舞台とした映画作品 3作、『メルキアデス・エストラーダの三度の埋葬』(2005), 『悪の法則』(2013), 『ボーダーライン』(2015) だ。

この 3作について簡潔明快に、整然とベン=ユーセフさんは語った。これは決して比喩であるとか、大げさな表現をしているわけではない。彼は本当に「語る」のだ。

始めは少しゆったりとした口調だったように思う。もしかすると英語母語話者ではない私たちを慮ってくれたのかもしれないし、あるいは緊張していたのかもしれない。それから滑らかに、時折注釈を加えつつ、言葉を紡ぐスピードが徐々に速くなっていく。少し利きすぎた空調のせいか、はたまた知的な集いの場で高揚感を得たのか、直接本人に訪ねたわけではないので定かではないが、彼はいささか火照った様子だった。それでも先走り過ぎるようなことはなく、けれども楽しげに原稿を読み終えた。

その後、細野香里さんと冨塚亮平さんを中心とするディスカッションに入った。参加者からの様々なコメントや質問を受け、ベン=ユーセフさんは淀みなくすらすらと関連情報や自身の意見を語った。彼はより早口になり、どもったり、その声は時折上擦ることもあった。しかしそれは緊張や予想外の質問への回答に四苦八苦して、というものではなくて、そのような場で作品について語ることへの興奮だったに違いないと私は思う。

彼は時々おどけた様子で冗談を交えつつも、しかしトランプ政権下の現在のアメリカの抱える問題を含むメキシコ国境が作り出す表象を確実に捉え、明晰に分析を加える。それは関心のある事柄について、真剣にそして誰よりも熱く語るオタクの姿だった。


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
メキシカン・ドリーム?
小泉由美子(博士課程 3年)


先日行われた博士論文執筆ワークショップにおいて、ファリード・ベン=ユーセフ氏は“The Frontiers of Border Narrative under Trump’s Presidency” と題し発表してくれた。そこではアメリカとメキシコの国境をめぐる三つの映画(『ボーダーライン』『メルキアデス・エストラーダの三度の埋葬』『悪の法則』)が取り上げられ、そのジャンル的混淆性(広大な景色を特徴とする西部映画&閉塞性と犯罪を特徴とするフィルム・ノワール)が考察された上で、それぞれの映画から「看守」「囚人」「傍観者」の視点が抽出された。加えて、ディスカッサントとして細野香里さんと冨塚亮平さんが発表され、それぞれ「境界の恣意性がもつ暴力と救済」および「神的暴力」について検討され、ベン=ユーセフ氏の発表を多角的に再考させてくれた。かくして、暴力に溢れた現実になにかしらの救済はあり得るのか、について改めて考えることを促された。

ベン=ユーセフ氏は映画批評が専門だったけれども、表象されたものを読むという手続きにおいてとくに大きな違和感を感じることがなかった。しかし、終わってみてふと思い返すに、もしなにか違いがあるとするならば、わたしが『皆殺しのバラッド』のエンドロールで流れるナルコ・コリードに心惹かれた点に求められるかもしれない。もちろんナルコ・コリードは『皆殺しのバラッド』の主題の一つであり、本編中も歌い手のエドガー・キンテロとその歌に光があてられている。とはいえ、個人的には、とりわけて読むべき表象はなく、ただ、ナルコ・コリードの音楽が流れているエンドロールにおいてこそ、その詩と音楽が強く訴えかけてきた。「ナルコ・コリード」は、“narcotráfico” (麻薬密輸), “narcotraficante” (麻薬密輸人) の “narco”と、独特のリズムをもつ物語り歌 “corrido” からなる造語。『皆殺しのバラッド』の公式サイトによれば:
コリードは、19世紀末に鉱山で働く移民たちによりメキシコにもたらされたノルテーニョと呼ばれるリズムにのせて歌われる物語り歌。もとは新聞やテレビがない時代に、読み書きが出来ない人たちのために、吟遊詩人が歴史や事件などを歌って町から町に歩いたのが起源といわれる。(略)麻薬カルテルが圧倒的な経済力と軍事力で猛威を振るうようになってからは、この音楽ジャンルは、麻薬カルテルのボスの活躍や冒険をさかんに盛り込むようになり、「ナルコ・コリード」と呼ばれるようになった。(略)ナルコ・カルチャーは暴力の吹き荒れる狂った世界で、麻薬が生み出す莫大な富の夢を体現し、成功を掴もうとする、“メキシカン・ドリーム”なのかもしれない。(『映画「皆殺しのバラッド メキシコ麻薬戦争の光と闇」オフィシャルサイト』

このメキシカン・ドリームとは、極めて 21世紀的なユートピアニズムだろう。しかし、この世が「暴力の吹き荒れる狂った世界」であることもそれを軽妙に歌うことも、歴史は古い。『オックスフォード英語辞典』によれば、“narcocorride”は、「麻薬密輸人をめぐる歌詞とメキシコの伝統的音楽による、バラッド」と記される。ナルコ・コリードが綴るような暴力の吹き荒れる狂った世界と、ノルテーニョの軽妙なリズムは、大きく乖離してみえるかもしれないし、そこにあるのは道徳的堕落かもしれないし、浮かれた夢想かもしれない。しかし、そこにはときに人々の悲喜劇を見据える醒めた視点が宿る。そこにバラッドのごとく、人々の物語を歌い継いでゆく力があるようにおもわれた。

ボーダーランズで起きていることを表現するのは難しい。どんな暴力もどんな物語も容易に消費されてしまう。けれども、ベン=ユーセフ氏はその点に留意しつつ、ボーダー・ナラティヴ自体が抱える「視点」の問題として明晰に処理していた。その上で、嬉々として語り、フロアからの質疑にも嬉々として応答する。そうした氏の語りに大いに心惹かれ、とても勉強になった一日でした。


■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■
関連リンク







Access Ranking