The trash compactor scene in Star Wars is really an ars poetica—a straight-up movie-serial sequence functioning allegorically to suggest that “trash” can be “compacted,” i.e. collaged at high density, to yield, paradoxically, the most satisfying escape. As scions of that legacy, the Tarantino/Rodriguez dyad free it from piety first, and second from a totalizing mythos that insists on othering just about everyone. Still, how to parse the jam-packed result? What would be the optimal hermeneutic tool for that?
Machete! The blade of the grim regime. Danny Trejo calls his “the boss.” In a Mexico-set prologue kills everyone in the house to rescue a kidnap victim he finds stark-naked in the bedroom and grabs up only to watch her pull a cell phone from her twat and signal druglord Steven Seagal, whose side she’s joined, to slaughter Machete’s wife and daughter, but Machete himself survives to turn up three years later as a Texas day-laborer pressed into an assassination attempt on anti-immigration politician DeNiro, whose best trick is still that doubletake when someone crosses him, that face comes back frowning and enflamed and you know you’re done.
“We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Someone’s been reading Joe Wenderoth: “The poet is powerful…because she is able to thrive in the shadow of that horizon, that border [between oblivion and order], and is able to know that it will cross over her just as she crosses over it.” Michelle Rodriguez leads an underground illegal-immigrant network out of a taco truck: her Ché-like codename: Shé. After she beds Trejo its Lindsay Lohan’s turn, then Jessica Alba’s—O abs, O freckles, O lips. Every love poem is an autopsy, unless we swing the blade that un-cuts, the scalpel that somehow slices away the slice itself. In real life Trejo’s a no-joke ex-boxer and ex-con whose face says: put nothing aside. Love the way those lowriders chomp the air. The hydraulics originated as a way to hide the illegally low height of the cars—the flamboyance is the way that every true sort of hiding finally goes.