I believe that it is important to break out of a cultural rut because it is so crucial to experience different types of culture. Sometimes, as humans are so limited to what is around us that we never get to experience all the different types of culture that are just out of our reach or not something we think we would be interested in. However, when you do, I believe you will become a person who is less judgmental, more understanding, and more accepting of all types of culture, people, and situations.
As unfortunate as this sounds, I actually think I may be in a cultural rut right now. Throughout high school, my teachers were constantly introducing me to things I might not normally be interested in or didn’t want to take the time to look into. And in addition to the push from them, I also searched to find things I didn’t usually pursue because I wanted to better my cultural understanding. I took music suggestions and listened to song genres I did not think I would like, I watched all sorts of unique movies and documentaries on Netflix, and I even read books I had no desire to at my teachers’ suggestions. However, throughout college, I find myself having less free time to be a true cultural tourist. I used to relate to that phrase so much, as I truly was one, but now, as my obligations with school and my career increase, it is harder to break from my cultural rut.
In order to break at least a little bit from my cultural rut, I decided to watch a film that is not only older but definitely focuses on a different type of culture. Como Agua Para Chocolate is a 1992 foreign language film about a family living in Mexico at the turn of the 20th century. It was suggested to me during a film class, but my busy schedule has made it difficult to view. Therefore, I decided to watch it for this occasion, as it is easily accessible on Netflix and is not my typical chick flick or horror film.
I think this movie is most relevant and productive in adding new culture to my life because the film focuses on life in a different country during a period of instability. On top of that, it focuses very heavily on the typical family structure and traditions. According to Linda Holmes, it is important for people to study popular culture because it is multi-layered (2013). I find this to be very true, especially for this specific film. When I think about the layers of Como Agua Para Chocolate, I realize how deeply they stress family values, yet are also able to make it historical, interesting, and easy to follow.
Another idea I thought this film emphasized perfectly is structure of feeling. Structure of feeling is a topic in the Analysis of Culture, written by Raymond Williams, that is usually specific to a documentary film but I also think applies here. It is an experience that a generation shares that can never fully be understood and is different for every generation (Williams 1994). Como Agua Para Chocolate attempts to convey the feeling in Mexico during this time period in a light-hearted yet romantic way, but because of structure of feeling I know it is harder for me to completely understand the cultural aspect.
With all of this being said, I definitely enjoyed a film that I might have otherwise never taken the time to watch. I hope this class and this film can be the first steps for me to break from my cultural rut.
Williams, Raymond. The Analysis of Culture. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader, 48.
Holmes, Linda. What Monkeys Eat: A Few Thoughts About Pop Culture Writing. NPR Monkey See. (2013 December 30). http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2013/12/30/258384187/what-monkeys-eat-a-few-thoughts-about-pop-culture-writing