Fear and loathing in Cancun

An ugly, ugly movie for an ugly, ugly homeland

Gabriel Shapiro

It’s fun and sexy, unscripted and uncensored. It’s “The Real Cancun,” the world’s first reality feature film. Produced by the creators of “The Real World” and “Road Rules,” this film brings together 16 people for eight days in a beachfront Mexican villa for the ultimate Spring Break vacation.” (New Line Cinema)

Where to begin? I guess we can start at the top. New Line’s blurb is basically full of crap, and by crap I mean outright lies. We’ll leave fun and sexy aside for the moment, since they’re a bit more subjective. Unscripted and uncensored, however, are blatant fabrications. If by unscripted they mean that nobody could intentionally write a script this awful, then they might be on to something. But instead it seems they mean to claim a raw, documentary quality. This heavily edited picture, guided along to produce a mind-numbingly boring and wildly idiotic series of stories, simply does not have such a quality. As for uncensored, well, that’s a lie in the first place. Everything is censored. The whole thing is about the sort of depraved sport-screwing we college kids are supposed to be into, yet the movie carries an R rating, so guess how graphic it gets.

All of this is not to mention that Cancun, last time I checked, is in Mexico, and if this is the “real” Mexico, my name is Vicente Fox. It wouldn’t be so bad if the completely naked irony of this situation didn’t appear to be utterly lost on just about everyone lately. This is not Mexico; this is a sanitized, poverty-free land of happy servant-people who love bringing your fat ass its third margarita in a half an hour. It’s beyond comprehension that anyone could set a movie with the word “real” in the title in such a painfully fake place, unless of course the movie was “the Real Big Sham.” Yup, just call me “el presidente.”

The whole experience surrounding this movie, as well as its predecessors “The Real World” and “Road Rules,” has left me wondering, “did I miss something?” Where was I when they had the meeting in which plans for the complete overhaul of what terms like “sexy” and “fun” mean were made? I’m no prude. I enjoy a party, but really, this is no party. Instead, we see drunken pigs rutting in the sand and gurgling a few moronic thoughts before embarking on another round of nookie-hunting or passing out.

The goal seems to be to see who can simultaneously be the biggest idiot and have the most sex. Whee! Now there’s a challenge! These guys should skip the trip to the hospital to have their stomach pumped in hopes that they’ll pull a Jimi Hendrix and choke in their sleep.

But who’s worse? The filmmakers (and the term here is being used as liberally as possible)? Is it their fault? There’s a tendency in America to blame the producers of the things we don’t like; when kids get violent, blame the video game company, etc. And while this is unfair, it’s also hard to ignore the fact that at some point somebody had to think this up, or it wouldn’t have been made. It’s a simple idea, but maybe if the geniuses behind these types of things were more given to thinking or being creative than being capitalist tools, we’d have a chance to avoid things like this in the future.

What about the cast? These people are truly the dregs of humanity, and that’s OK, every society needs a bottom of the barrel. However, when they’re presented as representatives of a generation, it’s time for the rest of us to throw up the barricades, light the bonfires and let the revolution begin in earnest. I can’t abide being portrayed as similar to these people, and from my experiences on campus, most of you can’t either. Maybe I’m taking this all too hard, and I should chalk it up to whatever bizarre smoldering rage or hormonal spikes gave rise to the hockey riots, but it’s too intentional. The movie is a 90-minute how-to film released to teach the next generation of college students how to act. It normalizes misogyny, binge drinking and most of all a sort of out-of-hand acceptance of a bankrupt status quo that can only hurt any chances we ever had of becoming a reasonable, worthwhile society.

Or is it us? Despite a mountain of harsh criticism, these films and television shows keep rolling out of Hollywood. You can bet that if there wasn’t an audience, there wouldn’t be any more of them made. We’re the rats who keep hitting the feeder bar because we’ve either got nothing better to do or we’ve fully accepted that this is as good as it gets. We’ve stopped hoping for anything better. The whole thing stinks, and it’s not just the movie, it’s everything. We stand on the brink: our tuition is going up, our chance to get a good job is ever diminished, health care costs rise, our rights are being traded in for a gun, a war and a visible enemy to shout racist epithets at, and what do we get? Nothing. What do we say? Nothing. What do we do? Nothing. Go, you gallant gophers. Go to Cancun, screw like weasels, drink like alcoholics and then come home, turn on MTV and blow your brains out. Whoop-dee-frickin’ doo.

Gabriel Shapiro welcomes comments at [email protected]