Tastemakers and Tastemaking

Mexico and Curated Screen Violence

By Niamh Thornton

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Film Studies, Gender Studies, Aesthetics, Popular Culture
Series: SUNY series in Latin American Cinema
Paperback : 9781438481128, 236 pages, July 2021
Hardcover : 9781438481135, 236 pages, December 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Tastemakers and Tastemaking: Questions of Taste, Violence, and Gender

1. Cultural Institutions and Gendered Taste Formation: Nelson Carro and the Cineteca Nacional in 2010

2. Commonplace and Routine: Amat Escalante's Extreme Realism in Los bastardos (2008) and Heli (2013)

3. Reversioning and Thick Contexts: The Cinematic Adaptations of Los de abajo

4. Bodily Excess and Containment: Bordertown (Gregory Nava, 2006) and The Virgin of Juarez (Kevin James Dobson, 2006)

5. Curating Cruelty and Criminality: The Radical Mediation of Kate del Castillo

Conclusion: Ethical Reflections on Legitimation and Taste


Considers how and why taste persists in the analysis of Mexican film and television by looking at key figures and their impact on the curation of violence.


Tastemakers and Tastemaking develops a new approach to analyzing violence in Mexican films and television by examining the curation of violence in relation to three key moments: the decade-long centennial commemoration of the Mexican Revolution launched in 2010; the assaults and murders of women in Northern Mexico since the late 1990s; and the havoc wreaked by the illegal drug trade since the early 2000s. Niamh Thornton considers how violence is created, mediated, selected, or categorized by tastemakers, through the strategic choices made by institutions, filmmakers, actors, and critics. Challenging assumptions about whose and what kind of work merit attention and traversing normative boundaries between "good" and "bad" taste, Thornton draws attention to the role of tastemaking in both "high" and "low" media, including film cycles and festivals, adaptations of Mariano Azuela's 1915 novel, Los de Abajo, Amat Escalante's hyperrealist art films, and female stars of recent genre films and the telenovela, La reina del sur. Making extensive use of videographic criticism, Thornton pays particularly close attention to the gendered dimensions of violence, both on and off screen.

Niamh Thornton is a Reader in Latin American Studies at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. She is the author and editor of several books, including iRevolution and Rebellion in Mexican Film/i and iInternational Perspectives on Chicana/o Studies: This World is My Place (coedited with Catherine Leen).


"Niamh Thornton's third monograph is a ground-breaking, very well researched, written and documented book that, in a reflective and honest fashion, explores the multilayered elements playing a key role in the decision-making process that tastemakers—film curators, filmmakers and stars/celebrities—face when making, curating or acting in films … Thornton has successfully opened up a fruitful discussion on the complex elements that construct fictional cinematic narratives and their interactions with social and cultural tensions that shape tastemaking." — Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies

"…a compelling addition to studies of violence in Mexican cultural production. It is sure to prompt scholars and students alike to pause and consider the ways in which structural forces like gender and prestige mould our assessments of violence on screen." — Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"This book offers a novel perspective on textual analysis by implementing videographic criticism, a groundbreaking methodology based on the radical splitting of images in order to isolate and magnify details and facilitate comparisons and value judgments that are free of personal taste and outside conventional systems of valuation. Tastemakers and Tastemaking is a well-researched and finely written book." — Adela Pineda, author of The Mexican Revolution on the World Stage: Intellectuals and Film in the Twentieth Century