Goal! The Dream Begins
The film Goal (2005) by Danny Cannon, starting Kuno Becker as Santiago Munez, is a story of a boy’s dreams of soccer stardom (or football as it’s called in Europe). One can dream big and young Santiago did, as a young man he is offered the chance to a trial with one of England’s top football club, New Castle. Prior to Santiago’s soccer trial, Santiago holds two jobs in Los Angeles while still playing soccer at a local park. One of the jobs is as a gardener and the other as a dishwasher in a small restaurant. Goal, shows the different ways Santiago and his father (Tony Plana) live their lives, Santiago as a young man with the aspiration of making it big as a soccer player and his father as a conservative, family man who wishes to secure their future through his gardening work. Santiago, going against his father’s conservative wishes takes the advice of a talent scout (Stephen Dillane) and leaves LA and his family to pursue his dream.
Despite the soccer influence, perhaps in preparation for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Goal (2005) shows Santiago life’s difficulties to adapt to Los Angeles, (el barrio) besides his conflicted self-identification as a Latino in Anglo-American society. One notion of identification is displayed when Santiago speaks English to his mostly Spanish speaking grandmother and father. Goal like RWHC (2002) film, both profile the story of a young protagonist of a different generation, whose roles of social advancement are against their parent’s wishes. As noted in Jillian M. Báez’ Towards a Latinidad Feminista: The Multiplicities of Latinidad and Feminism in Contemporary Cinema essay, Like This marks a new kind of Latinidad feminista—one that demonstrates the social hierarchy and tensions between different generations within Latina/o communities (p120). Another scene where Santiago’s struggle of self-identification can be seen when he confronts his father for stealing the money that he had saved for his trial in Europe, which his father used to purchase a much newer truck for his gardening business. His father justifying why he took Santiago’s money, argues that a new truck was a better use of his money than his trip to Europe, “to chase a stupid dream, it’s bullshit! what I do is take care of my family, now we have our own business, that’s how things get better, that’s how you measure a man’s life”, Santiago replies with teary eyes, “That’s your life! Not mines”. Santiago’s dream of fame could be said to be his way of achieving the “American dream”. Unlike his father’s view of keeping a low profile, following the law and working hard since they are technically still “illegal”. One can say that Santiago follows his father’s cultural believes to a certain point. In particular, Valdivia (2003) identifies Latina/os as a socially constructed group identity that demonstrates an inherent “radical hybridity,” and that it attempts to transgress traditional notions of both race and ethnicity (along with other differences such as religion and language) (p113).
Even though Goal depicts Santiago’s childhood, playing soccer in the rough, unpaved streets of his poor town in Mexico, soon after, crossing the Mexico-US border who along with his family break the law and entered the U.S illegally. Then, Santiago as a young man, now in Los Angeles, with a leaf blower in his hands, doing gardening work, in a white neighborhood, along his father and other men, wearing hand me down dirty clothing, Latinos’ culture stands for a lot more than Hollywood’s perception of illegal immigrants whose limited social movement limits their economic growth. As pointed out by Fregoso in The Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture book, Cultural identity, as Hall indicates, is “always constituted within, not outside, representation.” The positive feature of cultural nationalism is the fact that movement intellectuals excavated a historical past and constructed and reconstructed memories of a Mexican culture of struggle and resistance in order to develop a cohesive group identity that would Shield them from racist ideology and oppression (p48).
Even though Hollywood continues to depict Latinos as illegal immigrants with Mexican ethnicities, Santiago and his father, like many other Latinos in the US, followed and achieved their dreams. Santiago’s father was able to expand his landscape company and made peace with Santiago he became a starting midfielder soccer player with the New Castle European club.
Báez, J. M. (2007). Towards a Latinidad Feminista: The Multiplicities of Latinidad and Feminism in Contemporary Cinema, Popular Communication, 5:2, 109-128
Fregoso, R. L. (1993). The Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture. Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press.