Critic or Commissar? / Fernando Dámaso

Fernando Damaso, 30 May 2016 — A well-known film critic and staunch enemy of Hollywood — someone with an affinity for plastic surgery and black hair dye — is now taking on the role of political commissar. In response to Cubans’ enthusiasm for US symbols, mainly flags, he has proposed that every American flag that shows up in public should be surrounded by a hundred Cuban flags.

Does he perhaps not realize that Cuban flags are made in China, sold for hard currency at inflated prices and, therefore, unaffordable for most Cubans? Given a choice of how to spend a few convertible pesos, most people would opt for a package of ground beef or some other essential food item over a flag.

As though that were not enough, he is now taking on the eighth installment of Fast & Furious, which was recently being filmed in Havana. He acknowledges that, while he has no interest in this kind of movie, it will at least pay economic dividends to the Cuban government.

His preference for “landmark” films — principally those from Europe, Asia or Africa — is well known. His analyses focus more on the political and ideological content of a film rather than on cinematographic qualities such as script, direction, performances, photography, soundtrack, set design, editing and special effects. He has gone so far as to say that Indian musicals (aren’t the majority of Indian movies musicals?) are as good as any from Hollywood.

To him, Hollywood’s most important directors were Charley Chaplin, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and other “imports,” ignoring the fact that the United States itself is a country of immigrants (including Irish, Italians, Russians, French, Arabs, Latins and Africans), which is quite possibly the reason for its advancement and development. Though they may exist, I do not know of any Sioux, Cheyenne, Seminole, Blackfoot or Apache directors. But nor are there any Taino or Ciboney directors in Cuba either.

Lately, it seems the critic has also taken on the role of political commissar as a way of increasing his income. In difficult times, multi-tasking is one way to survive.