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Mi Vida Loca
Mi Vida Loca means my crazy life (as a girl). The movie documents the phenomenon of female gangs in the early nineties in Los Angeles. It is written and directed by Allison Anders, who grew up in Los Angeles and went to UCLA. She uses personal experiences to help influence her story writing. In Echo Park, a group of young Mexican-Americans show what it means to live in the inner city. The film looks at gang lifestyle from a woman s point of view to uncover relationships, conflicts, gang loyalty, and identity. The homegirls portray their female friendships through their daily lives of survival in Echo Park. It is a rough life with almost every homegirl having a baby by the time they are twenty-one and almost every homeboy being handicapped, killed, or in jail by the time they reach their early twenties. The girls try to become autonomous from the men in their lives by forming their own female gang. The gang culture of Mi Vida Loca reflects and constructs culturally understood gender roles.
The basic plot is based around two Chicano girls and their childhood lives. The movie is split up into three episodes. Maribel Mousie and Mona Sad Girl were childhood best friends that become enemies over a boy, Ernesto. Sad Girl is the main narrator of the movie. This drug dealer first falls for Mousie, but then gets Sad Girl pregnant also. He spends most of his money on his two babies and his prize possession, Suavecito, his mini-truck. The two young mothers arrange a fight one-on-one for a bloody confrontation. Neither of them gets hurt, but Ernesto is shot by one of his Caucasian clients on the same night. With Ernesto out of both of their lives, they can move on and earn back each other s friendship.
After Ernesto s death shadow takes over his brother s drug dealing business with the help of Shadow, a female gangster that was shot with Ernesto. Meanwhile, Anhenica Giggles is released from a four-year sentence in prison for the crimes of her deceased boyfriend. As an older homegirl , the girls look up to her and ask for guidance. Giggles and the girls discuss the future of Sauvecito and agree selling it. But the men have already decided to enter it in a car show that Ernesto was looking forward to. Giggles has decided on changing her lifestyle to be an independent, working woman. The homegirls are disappointed that Giggles wants to pursue a career in computers instead of lead them in their gang affairs. Giggles doesn t need or want a man to be dependent on anymore. She warns the girls, By the time our boys are twenty-one, they are either in prison, or handicapped, or dead! She rejects Big Sleepy s offer of becoming his partner after she has sex with him. Big Sleepy is an older generation gangster who has his own business as a mechanic and detailing cars.
Sad Girl s sister, Alicia La Blue Eyes , is a college girl who is infatuated with a prisoner (tercido) named Juan Temido. She constantly writes him love letters and doesn t socialize much with her sister s gang. Juan is actually El Duran , the cross-town rival River Valley gang who claims ownership of Ernesto s mini-truck. When he becomes a free man, he crushes Blue Eyes heart by never writing to her again.
One night when walking home, Shadow finds his inherited car missing and immediately assumes that El Duran stole it. His gang drives to a rival gang party to execute El Duran. Little Sleepy fires the deadly shot. At this same party, La Blue Eyes realizes that El Duran is Juan, who was just a sweet talker the whole time. The next day, a young boy in the neighborhood admits that he borrowed the car and crashed it on the steep streets of Echo Park during a joy ride. In retaliation, El Duran s followers the little girl standing by Little Sleepy on the sidewalk the next day, thinking she s his. But that little girl was actually Big Sleepy s daughter. The movie ends with the females becoming independent and starting their own operations. Sad Girl says, Women don t use weapons to prove a point. Women use weapons for love.
Gender roles are very evident in the movie. The boys are very young, yet they display manliness to the best of their ability. From a young age this group of friends have been trying to fit the gender role of the machismo male. In the gang, the tougher, meaner one is, the more respect his homies give him. As French agrees:
Manliness, as defined by patriarchy, means to be or appear to be in control at all times. But remaining in control prevents a person from ever achieving intimacy with another, from ever letting down his guard; it thus precludes easy friendship, fellowship, community. Men may have buddies, acquaintances with whom they can engage...
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Anders, Allison. Mi Vida Loca. Cineville Inc. 1993.
French, Marilyn. Gender Roles. One World, Many Cultures. Ed. Stuart Hirschberg. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995. 143-152.
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