Mexicans rejoiced at the Oscar victories of native son Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on Monday, and embraced remarks he made that were widely seen as a criticism of their government.
Gonzalez Inarritu responded to his best picture award for “Birdman” by expressing hope Mexico “can find and build the government that we deserve.” National pride over the director’s victory was so great that even the country’s ruling party sent congratulations, despite the seeming swipe.
There was more uncertainty over actor Sean Penn’s quip as he announced the award, asking “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?”
Gonzalez Inarritu said it was a joke between longtime friends, and many Mexicans took it that way. Some, however, said they found it offensive.
The Mexican director’s comment about the government was interpreted as criticism of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration, which critics have targeted for its handling of the case of 43 missing college students, as well as alleged conflicts of interest.
On Monday morning, the top Twitter trend in Mexico was the hashtag: #ElGobiernoQueMerecemos, or TheGovernmentWeDeserve.
Pena Nieto sent a congratulatory note to Gonzalez Inarritu on Sunday evening through his official Twitter account. But his government did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press on Monday for comment on the director’s remarks.
The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party said through its Twitter account: “Sharing the Mexican pride, it’s a fact that more than deserving it, we are building a better government. Congratulations #GonzalezInarritu.”
For some analysts, the director’s comment is a vision many share.
“The majority of Mexicans are not satisfied with the kind of government that we have,” Sergio Aguayo, analyst and academic at the Colegio de Mexico, said Monday on MVS Radio.
Analyst Denise Dresser, speaking on the same radio show, shared the sentiment. “I agree with (Gonzalez Inarritu): we don’t have the government that we deserve.”
Gonzalez Inarritu is not the first Oscar-winning Mexican director to win and make critical comments about the government.
Alfonso Cuaron, who won the best director award last year for his film “Gravity,” published a letter in Mexican newspapers questioning the energy sector reforms undertaken by Pena Nieto. The reforms, which eventually passed, opened up Mexico’s state-run oil sector to foreign companies for the first time in more than 70 years.
Some Mexicans had more to say about Penn’s joke than Gonzalez Inarritu’s acceptance speech.
“It seemed to me like a joke to try to ingratiate himself through humor and mischief with those (in the United States),” said Carlos Farfan, a 27-year-old waiter in Mexico City, who had seen the show. “It isn’t rude. It’s between friends.”
But Oswaldo Andrade, a 45-year-old accountant, who did not see it, viewed the comment differently. “It seems offensive. Where is the speech against discrimination? You have to separate friendship from a public moment at a global level.”