This current study focuses on the effects of neoliberalism on the Chilean sociopolitical period of postdictatorship — by studying a new generation of filmmakers in the work of Alberto Fuguet. Distant from their community, these individuals are unable to participate in any collective project. The purpose of this essay is to examine Fuguet as a key figure of a new generation of filmmakers whose work reveals the sociopolitical effects of the neoliberal project in the post-dictatorship period — When crossing urban spaces, the characters of these movies waver between detachment and estrangement.
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Through periods of depression, crisis, and authoritarian rule, the country has surpassed regional competitors and managed to post astonishingly high economic growth rates. Both texts cultivate the space of the barrio alto as a primal referent in the development of their narratives and their narrators. What interests me as a critic, however, are the tangible textual products of the push towards modernization, which is to say an understanding of the urban space of Santiago as a metonymic [End Page ] representation and theatre of broader affective processes of change.
In keeping with this inquiry, I am interested in examining how narratives of the city represent and establish a cultural episteme of space that is reflective of the current mottos of growth and modernity that have overrun the city. As the city morphs and grows, how do its spaces and channels interact with the novelistic trajectories of its characters? How is the city written when traditional models of center and periphery, urban and rural, give way to complex postmodern geographies that escape topographic placement?
The two cities within Santiago can be generally dissected along the lines of wealth, with the northeastern and eastern communities of Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura delineating the so-called barrio alto of the rich, and the southern and peripheral regions becoming strongholds of the urban poor. The terminology of a barrio within Santiago calls to mind the theoretical framework established by geophilosopher Edward W.
Soja, who argues that space during the age of globalization has garnered new semiotic and tangible meanings. The concept of thirdspace is what interests me in the literary depictions of Santiago, as the barrio alto is more than a wealthy compound: it is a physical space and a projected imaginary that characterizes and is characterized by its plotted citizens. Returning to Mala onda , the protagonist carries out a similar textual process of mapping that establishes a cartographic base for the reader after he returns to Santiago.
The novel establishes tangible loci of power that are plotted along a textual map of the barrio alto. The fathers in the text embody the imagined space of the barrio alto as a center of money and power, as they roam and inhabit the real centers of modernity in Santiago. In describing his rebellion, Nacho addresses the paternal figure of Mario Vargas Llosa, whose novels are a recurrent theme in Mala onda. The brothel is a masculine space of becoming, where young men are initiated into a hegemonic order through coital relations with prostitutes.
In this narrative play of ontological poles within a cartographic textual space, it is important to note that the author does not wholeheartedly embrace the artifacts of North American culture and industry within Santiago. Though critics have often pegged Fuguet as a malevolent purveyor of neoliberalism, I suggest that the representations of northamericanized space within Mala onda reflect at the very least an ambivalence towards accepting the United States within Santiago.
The critique of North American influence is subtle and inferred in the weaving of Rusty into the cityscape of the barrio alto. The calendar within the office of power represents the takeover of the country by neoliberal interests and investment, as Firestone itself is not an authentically American company: it was sold to the Japanese Bridgestone Corporation in The inclusion of this company within a discourse of multinational commerce is particularly poignant, because it has a long and documented history of labor and human rights abuses, beginning with its foreign operations in Liberia in The company has also faced heavy criticism for exploiting child labor and polluting developing ecosystems with industrial waste.
The critique of the Pumper Nic and the inclusion of Firestone as an embodiment of North American neoliberal influence signal an underlying problematization of hybridity in Santiago that Fuguet fails to make explicit, leading critics to assume that he champions US imperialism through the guise of neoliberalism in Latin America.
This is akin to the spatial exercises performed [End Page ] by J. The City Hotel and the Bank of Chile stop being local versions of their foreign counterparts, and are instead textually mapped as North American spaces that transport the narrative away from Santiago and the barrio alto.
The hesitance to embrace the northamericanization of the urban space in Mala onda reflects an ideological displacement of the subject from the imagined space of what the barrio represents. The Club, more importantly, represents an axis of political, cultural, and intellectual power in Santiago, given its membership and its topographic placement between the zones of the barrio alto and the traditionally middle- and lower-class areas of the historic center and the south.
The conclusion of the novel accentuates the connection between the city and the protagonist, as the urban cartography of Mala onda evidences a homologous crisis to the problematization of the subject.
The spaces that Fuguet polemicizes in Mala onda are reflective of the urban cephalization of the rich towards certain closed-off sectors of the city, a phenomenon that was predominant in the s and s. The s, however, brought about a new era in Chilean economic growth as increased investment in social and public services reduced the gap between the rich and the poor. The elevation of living standards is underlined by the reduction in national poverty levels from The segregation of space within this mutation of urban development, however, differs from the two-cities model that kept the barrio alto as a sacred and difficult-to-traverse sector of the city.
Car ownership increased Though these pages focus on narratives that articulate the wealthy sectors of the city, similar work has been done on the poorer areas of Santiago. This mutation of the urban in the mid s differs from earlier periods of growth that established the barrio alto , as Mattos observes:. The geo-economic process of agglomeration explains the North American-style town centers, such as the Plaza Vespucio Town Center, that began to appear in Santiago in the s and s.
A similar rearrangement occurs in the cityscape with the conglomeration of Sanhattan, a popular term used to describe a set of business developments near the western borders of the traditional neighborhoods of Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura. The name comes from an ironic editorial that caricaturized the new development as the Manhattan of Santiago.
Populated with business offices and retail space, the bustling node is crowned by modern skyscrapers such as the Torre Titanium La Portada and the Torre Gran Costanera, due to be completed in , and billed as the tallest building in Latin America. With the growth of Sanhattan, the traditional central business district of Santiago shifts eastward and away from the historic center.
This resemanticizes the idea of center away from traditional ideas of the central business district, since Sanhattan includes various residential and entertainment options. The growth of a new central business district CBD parallel to the rise of diversifying town centers promulgated an archipelagic morphology of the city that challenges the traditional topographic delimitation of the barrio alto.
This was compounded by the movement of wealthy residents towards the mountains Chicureo and Colina and the south Pirque , leading to the construction of a number of exclusive and sometimes gated residential settlements.
In a similar fashion, the urban poor exacerbate the mutation of Santiago as they contribute to suburbanization and the cultivation of periurban spaces that are built around these new town centers, effectively decentralizing the traditional space of Santiago that was dependent on physical structures of power such as La Moneda, the Club, and the thirdspace network of the barrio alto. It must be noted, however, that the actual date of the plebiscite is omitted in Mala onda as the narrative skips from September 10th to the 14th, without giving due diligence to the 11th as the day of the referendum.
Secondly, the protagonist is critical of a consumerist culture that Fuguet normalizes in his narrative. The placement of the narrative voice within the house is intrinsic to a discourse of [End Page ] discontentment that circumscribes the novel. The protagonist is unapologetic in his criticism of neoliberal policies in Chile, which he contends has defined the nation and its people as a vague simulacrum of the United States.
The confrontation with foreign influences over national identity takes on a cultural angle when Benja observes:. He suffers from a cartographic dislocation that leaves him without secondspace referents to root him within the firstspace, thereby permitting a sense of self within the contemporary thirdspace of Santiago. The destabilization of the barrio alto as a thirdspace requires a parallel restructuring of the imagined ideals and attributes of the space, as the changes described by Benja only reflect a topographic decentralization of the wealthy and the poor in Santiago.
She complains: [End Page ]. The disintegration of the traditional two-cities mentality in Barrio Alto does not point towards a democratization of all space within Santiago. This space is metonymized in the figure of Roberto, an overachieving friend of the protagonist who comes from a storied line of politicians and businessmen who own the privatized power company that literally and metaphorically sustains Chile and its projects of growth.
His refusal is grounded in what he perceives as the disintegration of the barrio alto as a result of archipelagic urban growth and the rise of the middle class, which both serve to dislocate the traditional referents of money and privilege from the mapped-out spaces of the wealthy.
Towards the end of the novel, the protagonist and his friends get together for a farewell dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the historic center. Benja arrives in a drunken and coked-out state to say his farewells to Roberto, who is to leave for the United States to continue his law studies. Resembling more a band of animals than urban dwellers, the low-class invaders of the urban space stab Olaf to death and leave Benja with multiple internal wounds.
The punctured body of Olaf insinuates the death of the privileged class in Santiago, though we know the opposite to be true, as standards of living and foreign investment continue to increase in the capital. The allusion to a cybernetic understanding of space, time, and self posits the next step in mapping Santiago, as its neighborhoods and their imagined networks diversify, interact, and diverge into an urban constellation. Perhaps the next step in understanding the Santiago metropolitan area and its denizens comes from a cartographic textual process that forgets the traditional Latin American city as a vestige of colonial rule and favors a hybridized, democratic, and hypertextual space that is polydimensional and sensitive to complex globalized systems of change.
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Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, Castells, Manuel. The City and the Grass Roots. Berkeley: U of California P, Chambers, Iain. Border Dialogues: Journeys in Postmodernity. London: Routledge, Fuguet, Alberto. Mala onda. Buenos Aires: Planeta, Tinta roja. Santiago: Aguilar Chilena de Ediciones, Gilbert, Alan. The Latin American City. London: LAB, Jameson, Fredric. Lemebel, Pedro. Tengo miedo torero. Barcelona: Anagrama, Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, Mattos, Carlos A.
Barrio Alto. Santiago: Alfaguara, Sassen, Saskia. New York: New P, Las muchachas secretas. Santiago: Planeta,
Through periods of depression, crisis, and authoritarian rule, the country has surpassed regional competitors and managed to post astonishingly high economic growth rates. Both texts cultivate the space of the barrio alto as a primal referent in the development of their narratives and their narrators. What interests me as a critic, however, are the tangible textual products of the push towards modernization, which is to say an understanding of the urban space of Santiago as a metonymic [End Page ] representation and theatre of broader affective processes of change. In keeping with this inquiry, I am interested in examining how narratives of the city represent and establish a cultural episteme of space that is reflective of the current mottos of growth and modernity that have overrun the city. As the city morphs and grows, how do its spaces and channels interact with the novelistic trajectories of its characters? How is the city written when traditional models of center and periphery, urban and rural, give way to complex postmodern geographies that escape topographic placement?
From McOndo to a Contemporary Film Production
It is also Fuguet's debut novel , first published in Mala onda is set in Chile during a ten-day period in September, , around the time of the Chilean constitutional referendum. The novel examines the Chilean emulation of American consumerism and pop culture , in the context of a growing opposition to the dictatorial rule of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. The novel takes place in in Santiago, Chile during the political referendum of the country's future with Pinochet. The protagonist visits Rio, Brazil briefly in the beginning of the novel. Other than these, the main location is the urban setting of Santiago. He even purchases a red hunting hat to complete the persona.