Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Show some respect

There are many reasons to complain about some Mexican government entities. People just love to kvetch about how they do everything wrong. But once in a while they do something right, as this article in the New York Times points out. The National Institute of Anthropology and History makes sure that the Pre-Columbian heritage of the country is preserved in a dignified manner. And I say, good for them. Mexicans in general are far less jokey with their national symbols as Americans. You can't mess with national symbols in Mexico.

The country’s anthropology institute... oversees a vast collection of pyramids, shrines and other attractions. ...It also rejects anything seen as exploiting a historical artifact’s dignity. That means that when a paint company recently asked if it could feature artifacts in a commercial, the institute said no.The current crop of requests in a thick binder in Mr. Taibo’s office also includes one from the BBC seeking to film a documentary at a pyramid (Sí), another from a university professor seeking to do research at a site (Sí) and a third from a real estate developer who wanted to publish photographs of pyramids in his ads (No). The institute’s staff pores over a movie script when a production company asks permission to film at a historical site to determine whether the story line is objectionable. “Apocalypto,” Mel Gibson’s 2006 film on the decline of Mayan civilization, received a no.

This reminds me of when I used to work at a small Hispanic agency many years ago and someone came up with an idea of using the Egyptian pyramids for a truck ad. The benighted creative director of the place (a woman so legendarily inept, so clueless and so arbitrary, that lore about her still abounds) opined that Mexicans didn't know anything about the pyramids in Egypt, so ignorant we were, and she proposed we change the location to the Aztec pyramids. The two Mexicans in the room, we almost had a heart attack. It was impossible to convey to her that this would be in the worst disrespect, not for the dead Aztecs, but for the audience. A Japanese truck had no business scaling our pyramids (not that it had any business scaling Gizah either, but at least that would only have offended the one Spanish speaking Egyptian who happened to watch Univisión). She didn't get it. We had one of the most amazing fights I've ever had in a conference room. A drawn out affair. The creative director whose idea it was basically said "over my dead body", and if I am not mistaken, the boss proceeded to rip every single one of his other very good ideas to shreds as well. Had we known it, we could just have said that the Mexican government would never allow such a travesty and that would have been that.

No comments:

Post a Comment