Why I Love Y Tu Mamá También

By Paola Martell

When I watched Y tu mamá también for the first time when I was a wanna-be 14 year old film-snob, I thought it was an obscure, sexual film about two guys who manipulate a hot, older woman to take a trip with them. But after watching it this past semester for my Latin American Studies class, I realized that it’s much more than a coming-of-age story about two horny guys. I thought I’d share the essay I wrote because it offers a background and a clearer story about this political film.

The film has a few themes – two of them strongly being sexuality and youth. The opening scene is of Tenoch and his girlfriend, Ana, having sex in her room – assumingly a room she has had since she was a little girl with pink walls and stuffed animals. Tenoch and Julio secretly have sex with their girlfriends in their parents’ homes. It centralizes the idea of young love and how it seems promising, but in reality, it can easily disappear – like the example of their girlfriends promising not to cheat on them when they leave to Europe (but they do). There is a scene where Tenoch and Julio are seen masturbating next to each other on diving boards. They seem confident in their sexual “talents” but are proven that they are just boys who are still trying to figure out how the woman’s body works. Luisa, the older woman, is flirty and attractive, and it’s no surprise that she seduces the boys easily during the trip. Both Tenoch and Julio get excited easily and seem to ejaculate early as expressed in Luisa’s cringing face of surprise and disappointment. The boys seem to act mature and cool, but they constantly argue. It is obvious they are insecure, and they’ll take any opportunity to insult each other. They allow their friendship to collapse after the drunken threesome with Luisa because they were too embarrassed and ashamed of something they stressed out so much. They emphasized their sexuality so much that when they experimented it with each other, they thought their heterosexuality had vanished which is something straight men deal with. They accent heterosexuality so much that it translates to insecurity of it.

Luisa’s character provides a sense of longing. In the beginning of the movie, Luisa visits the doctor who gives her test results, and it isn’t until the end of the movie that they convey what she has – cancer. In the waiting room, she takes a magazine quiz named “Are you a fulfilled woman?” Her result was that she is a woman who is “afraid to claim her freedom.” Her test results of both the doctor’s and the magazine’s makes her realize that she has to finally live her life, and she joins Tenoch and Julio on their trip who plan the trip just to have sex with her. It’s said that during dinners Luisa’s husband’s friends would make her feel less of herself. “I don’t know about those things,” she would say when condescendingly asked about her thoughts on topics. The fact that she always wanted to ask them to name every tooth shows that she held herself back a lot. Jano, her husband, cheats on Luisa, making her cancer harder to deal with since she is shown to be dependent on him for the attention and support she lacks. Though he betrayed her, she still leaves him voicemails advising him not to hate himself and that everything is fine. This expresses her commitment caused by insecurity.
Tenoch’s and Julio’s characters are political representations. Tenoch comes from a wealthy family because his father is a political official relating to economics.  He lives in a mansion where his maid has done everything for him since he was born. The story of his maid and how he didn’t bring her up in the car shows that he doesn’t appreciate what he has. Tenoch gives money to Julio for a jukebox and a coin to a homeless person uncompassionately. He takes the bigger bed of the motel showing that the rich just get richer and gain better things easily. Julio comes from a middle class, incomplete family. His sister is an activist, and it’s interesting that Tenoch hates economists and the system, but he is rich and doesn’t take a stand, whereas Julio’s middle class sister does. The social class system is a big part of their friendship. When Julio goes to the restroom in Tenoch’s house, he lights a match to keep it clean. Tenoch lifts the toilet seat with his foot in Julio’s house and in the motel. This expresses the prejudice that people not belonging to the first class receive. When Julio catches Tenoch having sex with Luisa, he admits to having sex with his girlfriend. The betrayal hits Tenoch like when his father was caught in a fraud of contaminated corn. When Tenoch tells Julio about having sex with his girlfriend, the betrayal hits him like when he caught his mother with his godfather in the living room. The affect on Tenoch deals with corruption of corporation whereas with Julio, it is more personal.
The corruption of Mexico’s government is stressed throughout the film. In the beginning sex scene, the moaning is muted and transitions to police sirens. In the wedding, the president, governor and other important political officials are present. The scene is surrounded by body guards. At the end of the wedding scene, the body guards and security are seen together eating food and relaxing – an example of them not doing their jobs properly or at all. It’s said that after the wedding, the president left for a meeting regarding the upcoming elections which shows the lack of dedication and professionalism of political leaders. The Mozote Massacre is referenced as a topic discussed by the president after the wedding. It was an event where a neutral village in El Salvador was massacred of 800 civilians by the army in 1981. A scene where Tenoch and Julio
drive in traffic caused by a worker being hit by a speeding taxi explains that the body took four days to claim. Even the dead have no justice in Mexico. There is a cameo of a mural that translates to “Respecting the rights of other is peace,” this shows the projection of civilians knowing that they lack basic human rights, and they demand change.
The film shows examples of people who are less fortunate but still help the trio. As they travel, a large part of the cinematography is of poor and broken rural areas. Julio compliments a man’s hat, and he gives it to him willingly. The people of the village help them with their broken car. A lady gives Luisa coconut water, and she is also given a bear that is significant to a woman and her mother’s journey to America in search of a better future. These are all signs of lower class people giving and helping others no matter their income.
Life and mortality is also a motif of the film – mainly on Luisa’s part. She never tells anyone of her terminal cancer, and she continues to live life after never living her life to its fullest satisfaction. She asks the boys if they ever wish they could live forever, and the question doesn’t seem as important to them as it does to her. She asks that question not because she wants to be immortal but because her days are limited on Earth, and she’s trying to take it all in; something humans lack or don’t acknowledge much. In her final call to Jano, she says, “You were my life.” Her life orbited around someone when she should’ve been living life for herself. She says life is “like foam, and we should be like the sea,” meaning that life disappears quickly, unexpectedly, and humans should intake as much as we can of it.

Caring Too Much

By Paola Martell

the papers i need to write
won’t care if i don’t compose them
the equations i need to work out
won’t care if i solve them
the clothes i need to wash
won’t care if they stay in the bin forever
the boy i love
won’t care if i acknowledge him

my number saved in his phone
won’t care if it’s ever used for a text
my outfit i’m wearing tonight
won’t care if it is properly ironed
my nicely applied eyeliner
won’t care if it’s being complimented
my late night texts to him
won’t care if they’re read or ignored

his smile that formed my smile
doesn’t really care that my cheeks are blossoming red
his eyes locked on my eyes
don’t really care about my longing gaze for him
his hand snugged onto my shoulder
doesn’t really care about my sweaty and nervous palms
his lips on mine
don’t really care that this is where i want to be

so why do i care so much, too much?

Chicana en Chicago

By Paola Martell
away from the heat
away from the blindness
away from dirt and dry grass surroundings
away from the nothing
into the nicely crafted buildings
into the city lights
into the unfamiliar faces
in to and out of train stations
away from “my kind”
away from the people who understood me
away from the people who misunderstood me
away from being out of place
into the same out of place feeling
into the same loneliness
into parties with names i’ll forget tomorrow
into the new bed sheets every night
i keep having to remind myself this is all beneficial
the future is a dream and you have to keep sleeping to cling on
into the nostalgia of my small texas town
away from completion in this midwest city

This was a bad choice and you’re a worse friend

By Paola Martell

i’ve been making bad decisions this summer

i know it’ll all end in a total bummer
i miss being at home, i miss being friendless
because nights like these make me too careless
i kissed him and i wish i hadn’t
i did it again and he was bad at it
i should start thinking
because then it just won’t sink in
my friend keeps judging me behind my back
i do this to forget the love i lack
she called me a kissing slut
and i brushed it off but felt like someone shot me in the gut
i don’t wish i was friendless or alone
i wish you weren’t such a condescending tone
this summer will end
and i realize my choices were bad but you were an invalid friend

Endless Summer Movie List

By Paola Martell

Summer’s coming to its close, and whether you’re going back to school, starting an internship, or just going back to work, you just wanna continue doing stuff at your own time with your friends. These movies might influence you to drop out of your overly priced art school or quit or job.. or maybe they’ll make you think otherwise. Either way, these are pretty great runaway-themed films.

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BUFFALO ’66 (1998, Vincent Gallo)
Okay yeah, I know Vincent Gallo is a Coppola-hating douchebag to a lot of people, but Buffalo ’66 is still cringing-ly nice to watch. It makes you feel like being kidnapped by a ex-convict who forces you to visit his parents with him and makes you be his fake girlfriend. You watch as him and his family argue while staring at NFL memorabilia and their washed-out 80’s carpet. A cringing and stale romance filled with old high school friend encounters, crappy motels, bowling alleys, diners, and a tall skinny beardy guy with tightly fitted clothes , what more do you want?
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Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
If you went to too many concerts this summer and don’t wanna go back to boring reality – Almost Famous is the perfect film for you. It’ll leave you in a musical bliss. It’ll make you wanna pack your bags and move to California to start a band. It’ll make you download Tiny Dancer by Elton John. It tells the story of William, a high school boy who goes on the road with a band to write a synopsis of them for Rolling Stone and so much more. Drugs, bell bottom jeans. and hotel rooms have never seemed so appealing. And come on, who doesn’t wanna be Penny Lane?
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Sommaren med Monika (Summer with Monika) (1953, Ingmar Bergman)
Feeling a black and white aesthetic? Then Sommaren med Monika will satisfy your new wave crave. It might not have a delightful ending, but throughout the movie we see a young love blossom as these two teenagers run away together to seclusion. It’s personally my favorite Ingmar Bergman film, but I’m just a sucker for summer romance and stealing roast beefs.
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Badlands (1973. Terrence Malick)
This dark, action romance is about Holly, a studious and well-behaved teen who’s just moved to Nowheresville, South Dakota. She meets rebellious Kit, and of course, her father hates his guts. So they runaway together, and as they love grows, so does Kit’s appetite for crime and violence. It’s somewhat like Bonnie and Clyde but without all the Hollywood glamour. Badlands is much grittier and rugged. Also, Charlie Sheen’s dad plays Kit, and he’s a mega babe with tight denim pants, so that’s a bonus.
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Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Wes Anderson)
Well DUH, of course I was gonna include this one. This film shows prepubescent love at its finest. It tells the story of Sam Shakusky, a khaki scout who’s in love with Suzy Bishop, a quiet girl who’s intelligent and fond of records. She’s only 12, but she’ll intimidate you and make you wish you were as cool as her. As all the other films I’ve listed, they run away together. But this film’s cooler because they’re preteens and don’t even think about the consequences. Every person in a relationship should love like 12 year olds and dance to Francoise Hardy in their underwear. Also, “What kind of bird are you?” is the best pick up line.
Films to also check out: Paris, Texas (1984), Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), My Own Private Idaho (1991), Uptown Girls (2003)

Mamá, Don’t Hate Me: My New York City (Guilt) Trip

By Paola Martell

The Magic of Selena

By Paola Martell

Untitled Poem

By Paola Martell

you sound so nice

i want to put you on repeat
can i place you in a record player
make you into a music sheet
you speak so softly
i want to read you front to back
can i write a book about you
turn you into the literature i lack
you feel so gentle
i want to plant you in my garden
can i make you into a flower
watch your roots row and harden
but you look so sad
i did none of the things i wished for
can you come back
bring me another piece of paper,
this one tore

Dear Boy

by Paola Martell