Morgan Spurlock’s FX show 30 Days is back for more fish-out-of-water docu-reality experimentation, and last week’s immigration-themed episode was a fine example of this gimmicky series’ strongest feature: humanizing an issue. In no way could anyone expect a right-wing, insanely patriotic, gun-toting, Cuban-born Minuteman with an erection for U.S. law to change his mind on what to do about illegal immigrants. People don’t flip a switch overnight (or over 30 nights), and Spurlock and his collaborators do seem to understand that. But it was obvious that, after staying with a hard-working, friendly Mexican family of seven sharing a one-bedroom apartment in East L.A., a tiny emotional crack had developed in Frank Jorge’s border-built armor, and that was all we needed to see. If clever editing were to hint that Jorge was going to become a protesting, liberalized champion of illegals’ rights, I would have turned off the TV. Instead, after a brief trip to Mexico to check out the crushing poverty the family had left behind, he seemed at a loss for words over the reality of their situation. And when the eldest daughter got accepted to Santa Clara University, Jorge’s happiness for her was palpable and genuine. So while the crawl at the end mentioned that Jorge had decided to stay in the Minutemen, it also said he’d left the vigilante bullshit behind to instead appeal directly to politicians about border security. He may still want to build that wall (and he’s defensive about the episode, if you read his machismo-tinged yet victimish rant on the anti–illegal immigrant blog site www.vdare.com), but if I’m reading his Minutemen duties shift correctly, he’d now rather discuss his views with people than play action hero. The touching, unspoken metaphor here: How can he possibly look at these people through gun sights anymore, now that he’s been witness to their history, thoughts, deeds and dreams?
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