So most of you know I’m a teacher. A Spanish teacher, in fact. Occasionally a French teacher, but a Spanish teacher in a secondary school for eons. As a Spanish teacher, I sometimes show a movie that has some relevance. In level one classes, that means a culturally relevant movie in English with Spanish subtitles or vice versa.
A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to show part of a film, and I chose one of my favorites, Selena. This was Jennifer Lopez’ “breakout” film in the starring role of Selena Quintanilla, Tejano musician who was wildly popular in the 90’s. For those of you who have never seen the movie AND don’t know the story: SPOILER ALERT!!! I’m about to tell you what happens, so you might want to go watch the movie then come back to this, because it’s a really fun movie. Just sayin’.
Anyway, we watched the first hour or so and the bell rang, and curriculum being what it is, we never got back to it. As we are now approaching our Carnival Break, the students begged me on Tuesday if they could finish it. I said, “okay, if you’re really awesome today.” And naturally, for the first time this year, they were. (Not really. It might’ve been the second time. Or maybe the third.)
So today I showed the rest of the movie. Throughout the fifty-five or so minutes, one macho boy, a seventeen year old with hormones raging particularly high, kept making good-natured but mocking comments, complete with wiping away fake tears. “Oh, it’s just so, *sniff sniff* touching,” and so forth. Now remember, this is far enough in the past that most of these kids don’t know who Selena was or how she died, and they weren’t around to see the outpouring of love there was for her afterwards.
When the ending began, with what looked like real news footage of the crime scene and standoff with her fan-club president/killer, everyone, and especially this one boy, was completely silent, eyes glued to the screen. The atmosphere in the room was thick with emotion. No apparent tears, but clearly empathy reigned.
When the movie ended, I immediately put on a youtube video of the killer proclaiming her innocence on 20/20 a year after she had been sentenced to life. “It was an accident,” she said, describing how the “accident” happened in what was obviously an elaborate lie. This big, strapping boy thrusts his hand at the screen and calls out sarcastically, “Right, I went and bought a gun, called Selena and told her to meet me, then I just happened to point it at her and it just happened to GO OFF!! Whatever! Who is she trying to kid?” Etc. etc. etc…
I had to keep myself from laughing out loud. So happy to see that even big, strong, macho seventeen year olds have a sensitive side. Bidi bidi bom bom!