Friday, April 12, 2013

Killer Chic: Hollywood's Sick Love Affair with Che Guevara

Giselle Bundchen wears him on her bikini. Johnny Depp wears him around his neck. And Benicio del Toro becomes him in Steven Soderbergh's by-all-accounts-fawning four-hour biopic, Che, now in limited release.

Del Toro, who took home best actor honors at Cannes earlier this year, is already earning Oscar whispers for his performance. But "Che" is only the latest sign of Hollywood's infatuation with Guevara, Castro, and other dictatorial goons (recently, Sean Penn had a cover story in The Nation lamenting unfair media coverage of the tyrannical Cuban and Venezuelan regimes).

"Killer Chic" tours the hellholes of totalitarianism through the eyes of Paquito D'Rivera, who left Cuba for artistic freedom and ended up becoming a Grammy Award-winning jazz player, and Kai Chen, a former member of the Chinese national basketball team whose relatives were hauled off under Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. "Killer Chic" is a fascinating and troubling foray into Hollywood's shallow--and callow--appropriation of murderous thugs.

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