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Film: American Me

American Me is a 1992 biographical crime film. It is directed by Edward James Olmos and based on the real life Mexican-American gangster Montoya Santana and the foundation of the Mexican Mafia prison gangs. Olmos played the lead role.


This film provides examples of:

  • American Title: Subversive. The film is about the rise of the Mexican Mafia in the US.
  • Child by Rape: It eventually is revealed that main character Santana was conceived when his mother was raped by a sailor during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots, in which US sailors on leave clashed with Hispanic residents of Los Angeles.
  • Death Glare: Santana (Edward James Olmos) pulls a pretty good Death Glare on his girlfriend.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Santana may be a brutal gang leader but he loves his mother, as she's always taken care of him even though he's the product of a gang rape against her by a bunch of racist sailors.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Santana is ultimately killed by his own men. He passionately embraces his death.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Played for drama. Santana is released from prison for the first time in years. He meets a beautiful woman whom he quickly falls in love with. When they make love for the first time, he can't reciprocate except by violently forcing himself on her. All the years that he's had to perform Prison Rape to survive in prison have given him a rather warped perspective on sexuality.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Santana's first time with a women after he's released from prison is intercut with a brutal gang rape perpetrated on his orders against a rival mafioso's son in prison.
  • Prison Rape: There are at least two scenes portraying prison rape, including an especially disturbing one where the main character keeps flashing back to his rape while having consensual intercourse with his girlfriend and turns violent. One of those prison rape scenes was technically a Juvenile Hall rape scene. Thanks to Dawson Casting though, the actors involved were over 18.
  • Rape and Revenge: During a stint in Juvie, Santana is raped by another boy under threat of getting shivved. Afterwards, he immediately retaliates against his rapist and kills him with his own knife. This earns Santana notoriety, but also gets him convicted for murder and his sentence (initially for robbery) extended by years.
  • Sinister Shiv: A particularly brutal shanking scene happens in the courtyard.
  • Tragic Villain: Santana is portrayed mostly as a product of his environment. He was the product of rape himself, became acquainted with youth gangs in his neighborhood, was sent to Juvie where he was raped, murdered his attacker only to be convicted of murder, and has had to remain the top dog ever since simply to survive.
  • Villain Protagonist: The main character Montoya Santana is a leading member of the Mexican Mafia.

Accidental HeroFilms of the 1990sBad Lieutenant

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