Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

McFarland, USA

We saw a wonderful movie yesterday:  McFarland, USA with Kevin Costner.  No foul language, no gratuitous sex or violence...just a straightforward, heartwarming story of a down-and-out coach who assembles a team of migrant workers and inspired them to become the top cross-country team in California.

At the same time, it is the story of how Coach White, in turn, was changed by his encounter with the team members, who work before and after school in California's fields, picking the food we eat.   He takes the grit and determination they use to survive every day and translates it into a hunger for success which allows each team member to do well, despite inferior uniforms, the pressures of having to work in the fields every day, and lack of funding to support their team.

It is also a lovely portrayal of the best of Hispanic culture, from the special birthday girls celebrate at age 15 (quinceanera), to the incredible work ethic these folks demonstrate, to their love for family and friends which is perhaps demonstrated more visibly than in many other cultures.

Finally, one scene depicts the runners getting on their knees to thank God after winning the big race. I can't remember the last time I saw that in a movie.

As I watched them picking cabbages, I couldn't help but think of my late sister-in-law, a migrant worker, who met Eric, my brother-in-law, when she was hoeing beets in Jim Shekal's fields close to his own family farm.

Margaret was stunning, as Bruce would say, she was a south-of-the-border Farrah Fawcett-Majors. Their daughter, Heather, is just as stunning and runs a business as a personal trainer. Margaret died, tragically, in a single car accident more than a dozen years ago.  Any stereotype you might have about migrant workers would be shattered if you had known Margaret, one of the most dignified women I ever met.

Go see this movie and support Hollywood when they produce righteous family films!  And the next time you make a salad, cook fresh spinach, or eat beets, please remember these extremely hardworking folks who picked that food, like my late sister-in-law and her family or the kids who ran for victory in McFarland, USA.

1 comment:

Alex M said...

Stories like that need to be told! We interact with lots of migrant and immigrant workers. I hate the disrespect they get from some sectors. That's not an easy life and our agricultural economy depends on them.