The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Letters to the Editor

In response to ‘Mel Gibson lashes out during ‘Apocalypto’ screening,’ originally published March 26.

I am writing this letter to offer my support and gratitude to Dr. Alicia Estrada and Felipe Perez for raising concerns about the portrayal of indigenous people during a campus screening of the film “Apocalypto.”

Out of respect for the Mayan community, I have chosen not to view this film, so I was not in attendance during Mel Gibson’s screening of the film on Thursday.

During my academic career at CSUN however, I gained an appreciation for the use of critical thinking in all aspects of social and academic dialogue. Dr. Estrada has demonstrated to critical thinkers, that it is worthwhile to have an accurate historical and cultural frame of reference in order to better understand ourselves as citizens of the planet.

As a student of critical race theory and ethnic diversity in America, I find it ironic and outrageous that Mr. Gibson imply that he has the inherent authority to decide what “look(s) indigenous.” As a graduate of social science, I do not underestimate the powerful role popular culture takes in shaping perceptions of different cultures. Therefore, I believe that images of Indigenous people in film should be portrayed accurately and respectfully.

Mr. Gibson chose to screen “Apocalypto” in an academic setting. It is therefore reasonable to expect leaders of the academic community, as well as the Mayan community that is being portrayed, to raise valid concerns about the films depiction of Indigenous people.

The fact that Mr. Perez, a dedicated member to the Mayan community, had his microphone shut off as he raised these concerns is analogous to the widespread silencing of Indigenous voices throughout the history of North, South, and Central America.

Mr. Gibson’s initial response, “fuck off,” showed a contemptuous disrespect on Mr. Gibson’s behalf, not only to Dr. Estrada, but to all females as well as members of the CSUN community.

I encourage any of the Sundial’s readers who are sincerely concerned about the issues facing the Mayan community, to enroll in a Central American Studies class at CSUN or listen to the radio program, “Contacto Ancestral,” which airs Monday evenings on 90.7 FM.

Respectfully, Victor Espinosa CSUN Alumni

To the Editor of the Daily Sundial:

There have been very few events that I have attended over the past couple of years that I have been at CSUN where one person didn’t stand up to say something that completely ruined the event by turning it into some kind of controversy with their statement.

Last year, for example, we had a journalist that had written a book about his experiences reporting during the Civil Rights Movement. During his lecture, he was stating a quote from someone he had interviewed in the past, which contained a word that was very vulgar. He had apologized in advance and was rather uncomfortable while he was stating the quote. More than a hundred students that had attended had no problem with it and understood that it was used in context. Two or three students, who must not have been paying any attention at all during the entire lecture except for that one portion, went up the next day to report it to the dean.

The screening of “Eight Below” last year with Frank Marshall as our guest speaker is another example. He had been explaining his casting process and what kind of audience he was aiming for, and one person stood up and practically called him a racist because of his choice of cast members.

The most recent event that everyone is well aware of, with much help from the Sundial, is the screening of “Apocalypto” with Mel Gibson as our guest speaker. Almost everyone who attended the event has said that he had been calm and very informative during the question and answer portion of the lecture until one person stood up, snatched the microphone away, and proceeded to chew him out for 4-5 minutes straight. After all that time listening to this person call him a racist and say how his film was an insult to the Mayan people, he snapped and lashed out at the person. Anyone would have done the same thing, but because he is a public figure, he is expected to sit there and take the abuse.

These people had absolutely nothing constructive to contribute in voicing their opinions and are responsible for ruining these events. Not only did they ruin it for everyone who attended to take advantage of the information that these guests offered to share, but they ruined it for all current and future students. Because of these people, the likelihood of getting any guest speakers to come out and share their information with eager students is incredibly slim. No one is going to want to come speak at a school where their event might become the next front page scandal.

So why is it that these people who have such disregard for the responsibilities that come with the first amendment are the ones that the media portrays as the victims? How do they become the victims of discrimination when they are the ones that create those issues that had been unfounded before they spoke up? Their words are not helping the community. They are hurting the reputation of CSUN for the present and future. It’s hard enough to get a job after college without having a reputation of insulting every single guest we invite that could have significantly helped us get into the job fields we choose to pursue. The real victims are the other students of CSUN who cooperated and behaved so that they could learn more about our guests and their works, not the people who spoke up and created these conflicts and turned them into controversies.


Alia de la Rocha Senior – CTVA Film Production

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