By Nayeli Medina
As I was sitting in my 4th period journalism class, I searched for a subject that interested me enough to write about when my journalism teacher sat down at our group table, and asked us, “Would you guys like to go to a screening for ‘Bordertown?’ Gustavo just tweeted asking for people to attend, and it would be so cool if you guys could go!” Gustavo Arellano is an editor for OC Weekly, and took part in the writing of the show “Bordertown.” He had recently visited our school to talk to us about the art of journalism, and how his career came to be.
I thought to myself, how interesting would that be? It seemed like a great opportunity to support him and the project. We agreed, unaware that it was an hour drive, and definitely were not prepared for it since this event occurred the next day. We were a little hesitant, but our teacher did not fail to remind us over and over again how important this would be to our lives and a memory that we would never forget in our high school career. Of course, she was right. We also did not mind skipping school for a day and taking a break from the havoc of school.
The screening for “Bordertown” was something I had never experienced before, and never thought I would.
Ms.Robinson, the journalism instructor, and two fellow journalists, Destiny, Karley and I exited school grounds, and made our way to our teacher’s compacted truck (although we didn’t know that at the time). She had told us that she needed a navigator before anything, and I gladly volunteered. Luckily for me, I was able to sit in the passenger seat in a more comfortable position compared to my friends that had to sit in the back with their knees up to their chests. Okay, not really, but something like that.
We made our way to LA, hoping for the best, which means that we were hoping for a clear highway. It seems we were a little too optimistic. We sat in the car for about two hours watching the weather change from a sullen white sky to a clear smoothed out baby-blue with the sun making an appearance. We talked the entire ride there, and realized that my teacher had a life of her own. We finally arrived, a little dazed from the sun, but full of anticipation.
We walked into a high rise building that looked like any other (your typical) building in Los Angeles, but it was more than just any typical building to us, as we excitedly stood at the entrance of the company Bento Box, shocked at how professional it looked. It was clear that “Bordertown” was the center of attention to this building. To the left posters displayed caricatures the company created, and to the right, a big poster for “Bordertown” shone right through a glass door. A very friendly Fox employee at the counter directed us to a matte stained glass door, and as we opened it we were welcomed by the sight of the characters of “Bordertown” painted on the wall.
As we looked to our right, green cubicles filled the room along with a muted silence; only the sound of a couple of men talking drifted toward us. One of them stumbled upon us and greeted us, “Hey there guys, if you want anything to drink or something, we have some stuff over there.” As we made our way, we saw cubicles full of posters, pre-drawn pictures of the characters, and interestingly enough, a “cube” full of action figures. It was amazing. These people were incredibly interesting and full of creativity.
As we explored, we were drawn back to the entrance as more people showed up. Two men were waiting, and another man with a green jacket walked in. Their faces immediately lit up, and they began asking him questions and complimenting him on his work in past films. We didn’t know what they were talking about, so Ms.Robinson decided to clear things up a bit. He was Efren Ramirez, one of the “Voice” actors in the show and the actor who played Pedro in “Napoleon Dynamite.” Unfortunately, we did not get to speak to him or take a photo with him, but did listen to what he said. He was an extremely nice guy who answered questions respectfully.
Gustavo Arellano, one of the consultants of the show, and the one who made all of this happen, walked in and greeted us in a friendly and outgoing manner. He was extremely grateful and ecstatic to have us view something that is aimed to appeal to both younger and older audiences. We all chatted for a while right outside the screening room when the creator of the show walked in. Gustavo’s face gleamed;he was so excited that he rushed us in to the room, and before we knew it, it was show time. We sat down on soft cushioned metal chairs to the right of a big table that had been centered in the middle with chairs surrounding it.
The ceiling had wave like shapes hanging from it to absorb sound, and the side walls were black squares evened out to look somewhat fancy. The screen was on the middle wall, which read “BORDERTOWN” with the episode name right below it, “Heart Attack.” One of the writers popped out of nowhere announced the writer of the episode, and prepared us for the episode that we so desperately wanted to watch. We clapped for the writer who created the hilarious episode, and the lights were almost immediately switched off.
The room was filled with anticipation and happiness that radiated off of everyone in the room. The crowd was full of adults who eventually morphed into children clapping their hands and laughing hysterically at every joke presented in the episode. The racial jokes were not intended for people to get offended, but were made to reach out to certain audiences to get them to laugh at themselves. That is something we Latinos like to do, laugh at ourselves in every way possible.
The cartoon is very detailed, and the voices fit the characters’ personalities and appearance. I felt like I was watching something that had a future and a spot somewhere, anywhere. I still feel and believe that to this day. As we watched the episode, it made me realize how great this TV show could be. The fact that two different families from two different races come together, demonstrates how race does not define a person. We are all human no matter what.
The episode came to an end, and the crowd seemed satisfied. They got exactly what they wanted, or maybe it even exceeded their expectations. We walked out of the room and chatted with the creator of the show, Mark Hentemann, who told us that he had pitched the show to FOX about five years ago. He was super kind and enthusiastic since he had such a marvelous feedback from everyone who showed up to the screening.
Gustavo Arellano was also pleased and listened to what we had to say about the show. We walked out through another glass door and met one of the other writers, Lalo Alcaraz. He was incredibly eager to listen to what the young audience had to say. They were delighted to hear everything we had to say, and were thrilled to know that they had reached out to a younger audience. I couldn’t believe it. They actually wanted our feedback.
My journalism teacher began talking about our school’s online magazine, and the article we were going to write for the show. The adults loved the idea, and told us that they were definitely going to read it and wait for it to come out. Before we left, a friendly lady named Donna led us back into the beautifully white cool building, and into another room where she gave all three of us pins, shirts, and posters. How cool! These were all thank you gifts, and it was so overwhelming having all of these people treating high schoolers so kindly.
We thanked Gustavo for the once in a lifetime chance, and for being such an awesome dude. We said our goodbyes, and walked out through the parking lot. As we were making our way to the car, Lalo Alcaraz pointed to a man getting ready to leave, and told us, “Don’t forget to take a picture with Ernesto Gonzalez!” Ernesto Gonzalez is a main character in the show acted by Nicholas Gonzalez. Nicholas smiled at us, and my journalism teacher eagerly asked if we could take a picture with him. He told us that he played the voices of three characters in the show, one of them Ernesto Gonzalez, the other J.C, and Pablo Barracuda. Nicholas came off a genuine man, and he was, like everybody else, genuine and responsive. We took a couple of pictures with him, and said goodbye to the last person of the day. The “Bordertown” screening had been a complete success, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.