Image Courtesy of documentedthefilm.com
“What does it mean to be American?” is the core question asked in the 2013 film “Documented”. The title of the film is a pun as the subject of the documentary is Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant who opens himself to the national stage to take a stand on the issue of undocumented immigrants. In short the film follows Jose on his journey to announcing his status to the national stage as an undocumented immigrant. The reason Jose warrants such attention is because he is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has written and edited for such papers as the The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Huffington Post to name a few. To say that the announcement made Jose infamous is an understatement as the documentary runs through several clips of him being interviewed by various news outlets.
I chose the film for a few reasons. For one, it discussed the issue of immigration from an Asian perspective. Jose Antonio Vargas is Filipino and takes time in the documentary to point out the common narrative that Latin Americans are the only illegal immigrants is false. Personal biases aside I’ve also heard about Jose Antonio Vargas from his recent project White People which aired on MtV and discussed the “culture” of being “white” in America. Watching the documentary now and learning about his core message of what it means to be an American really reframes the discussion at least for me. A particularly amusing part of the documentary is when Jose’s uncle talked about how real Americans are people who come and make a difference, not something that you just get by being born here.
Relating to the reading we had on Immigration And Wages the documentary only light touched upon the economic struggle of undocumented immigrants. Jose’s mother cannot visit America because of her lack of income and investment in the Philippines. The documentary discusses how this put her at risk for staying in the country. In another instance Jose tells the story of coming to America for the first time as a child and how he was perplexed that his “wealthy” grandfather and grandmother worked modest jobs and weren’t really living the “America” that was portrayed in media.
For further reading:
http://documentedthefilm.com/ – Website for the documentary.