For those who don't know, today is Independence Day in America's neighbor to the South. In this hellish election cycle, it has become almost an act of political correctness to bash both Mexico and American Hispanics. Things weren't always like this in the US, however. After the 1846-1848 war established the border between our two countries, Spanish-influenced culture contributed heavily to America's cultural evolution, particularly in California and the American Southwest.
In popular media culture, we have Hispanics to thank for introducing one of America's most popular motifs: the anonymous hero operating outside the law fighting untouchable criminal elements. In old California and the Southwest, there were many legendary heroes of this type: Joaquin Murrieta, Elfredo Baca, and the Cisco Kid among others. The tradition is still strong even in Mexico with masked heroes like El Santo in Mexican cinema.
The most famous of all of these Latin-influenced heroes was one of the most popular American cultural icons of the 20th Century and this weekend's entertainment recommendation: Zorro.
Zorro, the Spanish word for fox, was an epic television series produced by Disney Studios and aired from 1957-1959 on ABC. The original legend existed for some time in the area around Los Angeles and was said to have happened in the early 19th Century. In the author named Johnston McCulley wrote a series of popular novels about the Zorro legend, which in turn spawned several very popular films, culminating in the Disney production.
Zorro is the alter-ego of Don Diego de la Vega, dashing son of wealthy landowner Don Alejandro, who sends his son to Spain to further his education. There, Don Diego becomes a master horseman and fencing champion. His father calls him back to California because the province has been put under a repressive martial law. Don Diego, with his servant Bernardo, conceive a plan by which Don Diego will pose as an effete dandy with no interest in politics. But at night, he becomes the masked, black-clad rider, El Zorro---fighting for freedom and justice.
In the 1950s, Disney Studios hit upon one of the most innovative production strategies ever. They took a theme of American historical interest and dramatized it into a type of program that was both educational for children and entertaining for adults. In programs like Zorro, there occasional scenes obviously geared to a younger audience, but combined with serious plots and considerable action which appeal to adults. Walt Disney termed this family entertainment. It was designed to bring moral and historical issues into young minds while at the same time being able to hold adult attention to the story. Sadly, Disney no longer offers this kind of quality---nor does any of the rest of the American media.
Most of us today, thus, somewhat look askance at Disney dramas. Those of a certain age remember these programs as children, and tend to equate Disney with juvenile programming. Younger people---disgusted by what Disney has degenerated into more recently---have a natural revulsion towards the very name. It must be remembered, though, that Disney dramatic series were once aired in prime-time on major networks.
Like many of Disney's dramatic series, Zorro was essentially serialized, with one episode connected to another. We can actually watch the character transform from a mysterious figure to a legendary hero throughout the entire series. In fact, Zorro has a lot to teach us about heroism. Don Diego learns in the process of this transform why people need heroes. In one episode, where Don Alejandro learns that his son is really Zorro, he tells him "The people need Zorro. They need someone to believe in, someone to have faith in, and that would be broken if they knew he was simply one of them."
The producers of the past understood psychology much better than we do in our Postmodern dystopia where an effete cynicism rejects the idea of heroes or heroism---or at least bestows the title on the undeserving. What our forefathers understood was that a culture needs heroes because heroes represent a moral ideal. The connection between heroism and religious faith is so strong that, in pre-Christian eras, heroes were often deified. In Christian times, a heroic figure is seen as someone God sends to aid the suffering. In both cases, they maintain a sanctified image in the popular mind. In our day, when leaders call Bruce Jenner a hero, we see how the entire concept of heroism has been degraded.
That is the one of worst social crimes that the Cultural Marxists in Media and Academia have committed---depriving Americans of our heroic and legendary figures. A nation without heroes is a nation without ideals; and we see the results of that very evidently played out in Postmodern Culture. As a Hispanic hero, Zorro shows that the ideals which America once stood for are not limited by ethnic origin.
Since the series is serialized, Zorro is best watched on DVD. It is a high-quality production with lots of action and---for those with families---can be enjoyed by everyone.