Bud Kennedy

‘Boyhood’ was about Texas’ past, not its future


Denied at the Oscars, Boyhood may be remembered as Texas history.

For 12 years starting in 2002, director Richard Linklater followed an Anglo boy growing up in Houston and San Marcos, where he somehow managed to encounter few people of color except “Enrique,” a young gardener.

If Linklater started remaking Boyhood to reflect today’s Texas, it would tell Enrique’s story.

Most Texas children are Hispanic. In the primary grades, they outnumber Anglo children nearly 2-to-1.

As we celebrate Texas History Month, a reminder: Anglo Texas will soon be mostly history.

As critics argue whether Boyhood’s depiction of Texas Latinos is a racist stereotype or just indifference, the Houston actor who played Enrique defends both the movie and the immigrant worker he portrayed.

“I heard someone say it was a ‘white’ movie or a ‘white-people problems’ movie — I reject this notion,” actor Roland Ruiz wrote in an email.

“The story of a single mother raising children and trying to better her life is not exclusive,” he wrote, calling the lack of more Latino and African-American characters an “unfortunate oversight.”

Ruiz, born in Houston to immigrant parents from Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, played a teen encouraged by Mason’s mother (Patricia Arquette) to get an education, then a college graduate telling her, “You changed my life!”

When a New York professor called that a stereotype, Ruiz replied that for immigrants, “a little compliment can shine like a beacon in the dark.”

Ruiz defended Linklater, the Austin genius who replayed the 1970s in his movie Dazed and Confused and captured 1990s Gen-X ennui in Slacker.

But Ruiz, also seen in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, Fox’s The Good Guys and on his own MasPolitica.com website, added gently that Latinos ought to be “well-represented” in TV and film.

In the next Texas coming-of-age story, Latinos will be the stars.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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