The director addressed this controversy at a press conference by saying that we should all watch the movie before judging it, because he was actually trying to make people aware of the deep inequality and racism in our society through the film. But he also claimed that those who use the word "whitexican" -a term coined to describe Mexicans who worship the lifestyle of white people abroad while displaying classism/racism in their own country, are being "deeply racists, too". Because you know, reverse racism and all that jazz. His answer only sparked more backlash and he was forced to "apologize" for not understanding what the word was really about (he should have just sat there and ate his food tbh).
The release of the movie along with the controversy takes place in times where class struggle in Mexico is more visible than it's been for the longest time, especially now that right-wing voices are raising to claim that the current president, along with left-wing protests such as feminist marchs, are dividing the country and making people resent the white and rich for no reason.
Los fifís y los whitexicans despues de ver Nuevo Orden: pic.twitter.com/rB9wTAiih5— Lepka. (@DictatorLepka) October 23, 2020
"I just watched New Order. You have no idea, it changed my life. It's a painful movie but so necessary, man!"
The film has recieved a fair share of rave reviews from international press. Most of them praised its style and bold approach to harsh realities, some of them called it "terrifyingly riveting", Franco's best work or simply a "masterpiece". Some apparently even touted it as the Mexican "Parasite" (they at least now share the same USA distributor Neon). However, critics in Mexico have not been equally kind to the film, and most local reviewers have ripped it to pieces, claiming that its director has failed to present a multi-layered story, developing only the perspective of the privileged group and focusing on gratuitous violence, which ultimately can send a dangerous message to people who already criminalize protesters.
One film critic highlighted the main points against the movie in the following Twitter thread:
First of all, a huge shout out to the wonderful @orlamango from @SeventhRow because she’s been the ONLY non-mexican critic that actually understood how white and fake New Order’s ‘social commentary’ is.— Ricardo @ CIFF '20 (@wallyrgr) October 22, 2020
READ THIS AND LEARN, please.https://t.co/Kcp9v8U2dB
.@diazdelavega1 writes about Franco’s intention on exclusively exploring the consequences this social crisis would bring to the dominant class.— Ricardo @ CIFF '20 (@wallyrgr) October 22, 2020
I wish I could provide y’all context to his last sentence because it’s absolutely perfect.https://t.co/eele5gG9H7
By the way, critics living in México and Latinamerica were denied access to watch New Order at TIFF, Chicago and other film festivals. At first I thought this was distribution, but after a while it was clear that the producers only wanted foreigner's takes on the film.— Ricardo @ CIFF '20 (@wallyrgr) October 22, 2020
It’s important to know this because New Order has already been shortlisted to represent Mexico in the International Oscar race. And since foreigners have spoken so highly of it, it’s getting a lot of international buzz already.— Ricardo @ CIFF '20 (@wallyrgr) October 23, 2020
My country shouldn't be represented by this.
There's one reviewer who was quoted as one of the few international voices who didn't praise it, calling it instead "a grossly tone deaf bloodbath". Here's part of her text:
Franco’s camera also asks us to sympathize with the rich white characters’ victimhood instead of with the working class [...] The protestors are completely dehumanized: they are just grunting voices, their faces kept out of focus at the side of the frame. Meanwhile, the white victims’ faces are centre frame, where we’re asked to witness their pain and fear at the hands of faceless monsters. Franco can not imagine the protestors as actual people, even though they are apparently doing all of this out of a desire for better human rights.
Full review over here.
The controversy is still going on social media, even more now that the film is out, but many have already pointed out that it may actually drive people to watch the movie and will end up helping its box office numbers. We shall see (or not).
Here's the international trailer for the film:
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ONTD: do you wanna eat the rich?