Follow Me Home
No MPAA rating; would be R for language
Ostensibly, this is "the story of four [Native American, Chicano, and African-American] artists and their journey across the American landscape to paint a mural depicting images of their ancestors on the White House."
The charitable thing is always, of course, to give the benefit of the doubt about the good intentions behind a project like this. And it is also, of course, politically incorrect to be critical of a communication like this when its producers represent oppressed minorities and I represent what they see here as the hated redneck power structure, even though I have no power and have never owned a gun. But it's impossible to call this film anything other than hate propaganda, inciteful of the very violence and even wars that it pretends to be warring against, without being dishonest and patronizing.
Every male character of European-American heritage represented in this film is a contemptible bigot save one, the one who has been converted to Buddhist philosophy, and even he finds redeeming grace only when his back is utterly against the wall. The only character who is presented as caring anything about the fountainhead of western culture, the Bible, is also the stereotype of the ethnic minorities who is bigoted, dangerous, and in need of saving from "white indoctrination." He proudly displays his crucifix outside his shirt and, whenever he gets the chance, his devotion to Jesus and Mary through the tattoos of them underneath it.
In short, this is a hate tract against European-Americans and their values structures, which is of value only as an example of what it represents, rather like the propaganda films produced on behalf of Hitler's Reich. Some European-Americans may find in it an oportunity to flagellate themselves and atone for sins insufficiently realized. And some American Indians, Chicanos, and African-Americans will find in it justification for their hates and prejudices and also, I hope, some role models of tolerance.
I'm not saying that none of the film's points are valid or that most of its negative stereotpes do not exist in our society. Nor do I mean to deny or discount the tolerance and good-heartedness of all but one of the non-European-Americans it depicts. More power to them and may their kind increase. But we must fault the production for being devoid of complexity and subtlety. This is the opposite of Lone Star and Grand Canyon; rather than bringing our disparate views together around the table, it attempts to revisit and renew ancient enmities. And incidentally, the script is mediocre, preachy, and often boring.
In short, if they ever were to make a movie of the San Jose Mercury News, this is just about what I'd expect it to be.
Photo © by the film's distributor
© 1997, Jon Kennedy