Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.



Cowboy Del Amor: Mexican Female Border Wares

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By Prairie Miller

While Mexicans crossing the border desperate to find work, are being increasingly ambushed and murdered by US government agents and vigilantes alike, quite a different, weirdly 'idyllic' and 'border'line offensive perspective has cropped up in a new documentary, Cowboy Del Amor. US based Israeli filmmaker Michele Ohayon decided to tag along after New Mexico border town ranch owner turned professional matchmaker Ivan Thompson, who has hailed himself 'Cowboy Cupid,' as he places classified ads for aging US males in Mexican newspapers. Men who make it clear that they're seeking docile alternatives to American women. Conjugal imperialism?

One would ordinarily anticipate the crafting of a sinister satire here. But Ohayon is dead serious and overidentified with Cowboy Cupid's boastful, often smirking posturing, and there's simply a failure of any filmmaker objective and critical stance, to say the least. A camera in the hand of a director should be more than just a piece of surveillance equipment.

When we first meet Cowboy Cupid, he's driving customer of the moment Rick across the border. Rick is an ex-marine and truck driver, who's just handed over three thousand dollars for, essentially, the purchase of a subservient Mexican mate. Though geeky Rick is middle aged, bald and on the chunky side, he's adamant in the newspaper ad that Ivan posts, about his stipulation that any applicant who materializes should weigh no more than 120 pounds. When one female respondant calls their hotel and confesses to tipping the scales at slightly more than that, Cupid quickly terminates the call.

After rejecting a procession of what seem like intelligent independent women approximating his own age, Rick sets his sights on a shy, pretty young woman who appears to be half his age and size, and who struggles to speak only a few words of English. No anticipated back talk from her, obviously! And Rick, being a typical American, speaks no Spanish. So the two communicate primarily in sign language, on their predestined path to the altar.

Even more bizarre is the case of 70 year old Lee, a disabled elderly gent who appears to barely function physically or mentally. He's teamed up by Cowboy Cupid with a Mexican single mother in her forties. Lee demands from the get-go that the two be sworn to never learn the other's language, as an exceedingly strange informal pre-nup guarantee of supposed eternal bliss. His intended bride readily agrees, in what seems more like an international treaty, than a declaration of love.

No stranger herself to international relations, so to speak, Ohayon is a US based immigrant from Israel and married to a Dutch citizen who is 13 years her senior. These older guy/younger woman pairings are certainly nothing new in movies, and nearly the rule as opposed to the exception. And this has long been an irritant to older women, both on and off screen, who are more than aware of the economic factors or just plain typical male fantasies, that come into play with this recurrent phenomenon.

All duly noted in Cowboy Del Amor, by anyone caring to scrutinize the material at hand beneath its cheery surfaces. Anyone, that is, except the filmmaker. Missing from this serene group portrait are all sorts of things. For starters, the deeply embedded racism in the US that these darker women have likely encountered, and the notorious accompanying provincial scorn towards mixed marriages, in particular along these redneck southern borders. And as first observed in this review, the anti-Mexican vigilante and government fired up lynch mob mentality ensuing at the borders, in addition to green card marriage as motivation in at least some of these rather odd couplings.

In a conversation with Ohayon, she displayed a rather chiding manner. I had to get out of, you know, that 'PC box,' she insisted, in order to see those very different worlds out there.

Ohayon also mentioned in passing that the first poster created for the film features Cowboy Cupid and his toll free number, should you desire his matchmaking services. And, that his business is booming since the movie poster made its debut. What a thin line indeed, between commerce and cinema.

Prairie Miller

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