“First, they have “The Mexican” with Brad Pitt, now they have “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise. Well, I’ve written a film, maybe they’ll produce my film. The Last Immigrant on Earth, starring Tom Hanks. How about that?”
So here we go, the scene is post apocalyptic United States. Food is scarce and another human being may or may not be within another three-thousand miles. You however are not native to this land, you’re an immigrant. Then screen cuts to black and white arial font appears on the screen in bold lettering it writes “The Last Immigrant on Earth”. So how do they depict you? Are you villainous or are you the heart-throb? Are you riddle with dirt or are you clean-shaven? Are you played by a minority or casted as Zac Efron? Or are you shown to accuracy. What even is the accurate story of an immigrant? Do we all live in Shitholes and huts riddle with HIV and AIDS or are we dreamers, farmers, teachers, professors, doctors, entertainers. Better yet we are people.
The Paul Mooney quote was used to emphasize the fascination with immigrant suffering. Remember that time it seemed like slave movies where becoming an instant road to an Oscar nomination? The sensitization of the drama of misplaced souls trying to make something out of nothing. We wait in line, buy our ticket , sit in our seats and watch American-born actors like Zac Efron portray an hispanic immigrant for two hours and feel wholesome because we related to the take home message that humanity is key, then we drop our ticket stubs on the ground to be swept up by the immigrant from the same country who Zac Efron poorly depicted. You see, narratives matter just as much as representation. Throughout years of my adolescence being called a “an African Booty Scratcher” and being accused of having a zoo in my backyard, hearing the words “shit hole” country is nothing new.
Appropriating our struggle for an Oscar is not new and neither is calling us Shitholes while depriving us of our natural resources and influencing corrupt powers to remain in power to allow us to never move ahead. It’s like playing a game of Simon says, except Simon never says, Simon only takes. Takes our diamonds, copper, rubber, and land. I remember driving in Durban with my South African cousins and my older cousin pointing at an open field of grass and he said to me “hey you see that land over there?” I responded “yes” he whispers”it’s own by some dude in London, and we don’t who he is.”
Is it only a shithole to the media but then behind doors it is the fountain of gems to collect from until it runs dry? What is the immigrant story? It is that of misrepresentation which leads to neglect which is take advantage of by other countries for self profit. Take in account with what is going on in my home country of South Africa. Capetown is preparing for Day Zero, projected to be April 12th and that is when its fresh water source is expected to run out. Capetown, is expected to be first major city to run out of water. How does that happen? The other major question is why isn’t it breaking news? Why isn’t it on repeat and T-shirts like “shithole” hole countries? Perhaps, because it fits too much with the immigrants narrative or we never like the story once it’s told from the immigrants mouth.”