In April 2010, Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, signed into law what was touted as the nation’s “toughest bill” yet on illegal immigration, Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (commonly known as Arizona SB 1070). This controversial legislature made multiple ostracizing stipulations, including requiring immigrants to carry their documents at all times – which makes Latina/os especially (documented or not) vulnerable to surveillance and identity checks.
Shortly afterwards, on Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which celebrates Mexican heritage, Chicano filmmaker Robert Rodriguez released an online trailer for the now cult “Mexploitation” action film Machete (2010): a cinematic announcement which might be read as a direct response to the punitive Arizona legislature. The trailer is introduced by the film’s title character “Machete,” played by frequent Rodriguez collaborator, Danny Trejo. An intimidating figure, his body scarred and tattooed, he looks sternly at the camera and speaks angrily: “This is Machete with a special Cinco de Mayo message…to ARIZONA!” In the fast-paced scenes that follow, we see Machete performing over-the-top revenge on those who wronged him and we hear a voice-over: “they soon realized...they just fucked with the wrong Mexican!”