Flamin’ Hot: Empowering the Mexican Identity in the United States

I’d like to begin by letting you know that I personally do not like Flamin’ Hot flavoring. This is due to having a bad experience with the chips in my early childhood. Having said that, this didn’t dissuade me from watching the Hulu Original film “Flamin’ Hot.” cheap human hair wigswigs on salebest human hair wigs onlinehuman hair wigs cheapbest human hair wigs onlinecustom wigsbest wigscheap human hair lace front wigswig shopscustom wigshuman hair glueless wigswig storesbest wigs on amazonhuman hair wigs lace frontbest wigs for black womenbest wig outletlace front wig human hairwigs storewholesale wigshuman hair wigs for black womencheap lace front wigsbest wig outletwigs storeswig store near mebest human hair wigs onlinewig shop onlinewig storesheadband wig human hairbest wigs for white womenblonde wigwig outletash blonde wigwholesale wigscheap wigbest wigs for black womenwig for salecustom wigsbest online wig storeglueless wigs for beginnersSynthetic Wigscustom wigs

The film follows Richard Montañez–played by Jesse Garcia–son of Mexican immigrants and how he went from being the janitor of Frito-Lay to the director of multicultural marketing for PepsiCo. Throughout the film Montañez had encountered hardships in his life from the casual racism Mexicans face to challenging the norms of Mexican households on what it is to be a ‘man.’ Yet his determination and hussle to provide for his family serves as the motivation which propels him to the executive position that he had always wanted. The film also shows his greatest motivator, his wife Judy Montanez–played by Annie Gonzalez. She stood by Montañez throughout his journey to success including motivating him from times when things might not be looking good. 

This underdog tale of a Mexican-American who had no high school diploma or college education and eventually reaching to the top management of a multi-billion dollar company is extraordinary and important. In the United States, it is clear that Mexican-Americans are looked at as the ‘bottom feeders’ ever since the land where we stand on was taken from us. Montañez came from a “cholio” background as a young man and when he realized that his first child was on the way, he needed to get wise and get a job.

There is a scene, or montage if you will, where the audience sees him get rejected and discriminated against is one that still many Mexican-Americans face in this nation. 

While watching “Flamin Hot,” I saw myself in Montañez. 

I am a first generation Mexican-American and a son of Mexican immigrants. Just like his parents, mine would take me to work as well. My parents would clean offices in Santa Barbara late at night for my dad’s business and would bring me and my brother along. I was 6-years-old. 

Going to these offices felt like an outing; it didn’t feel like work. Like Montañez, playing in the grape vines while his parents worked, I enjoyed seeing the bubbles going up the water cooler. Growing up, I began to realize that working in the family business made me feel shameful because other kids weren’t doing the same . My father would explain to me, “This is nobel work. It’s what keeps a roof over our heads.” 

The importance of “Flamin Hot” is the representation of not just Mexican-Americans but Mexicans as a whole. 

For years, Hollywood has depicted us as dangerous hoodlums controlling the streets of East Los Angeles or the help. Now our stories can be told and the stigma that has been casted on us can be erased with our truths. 

Mexican culture was portrayed as it is in “Flamin Hot”

The majority of ‘Flamin Hot’ was told in a first person narrative which sounded to me like my tio was telling me his story, one I could resonate with and understand.. There is a scene where Montañez gives the head of PepsiCo, Roger Enrico–played by Tony Shalhoub–and his executives a presentation on why ‘Flamin Hot’ will be the chip to save jobs and make them rich. He ends his speech with, “If we knew that there was a product out there for us we’d say ‘Take all our money cábrones.’” It’s those moments when Monteñez talks to people and the viewer throughout the film where it shows the representation of who we are in a real way. Unapologetically real. 

Another aspect of Mexican culture that was seen in the film is the candle. Lighting a candle and hoping for some good to come our way is our way to keep us going. As Monteñez says in the film, “Sometimes when you have nothing,  the idea of God doesn’t sound so bad.” 

The major theme in the film is to be proud of being who you are no matter what other people say or think of you. 

At a young age, Montenez experienced being bullied by his peers for the sole fact that he was of socioeconomic status and the fact that he was mexican; his son felt the same blow. Having that message being presented on the big screen is a BIG DEAL. Mainstream media has always presented this similar message with analogies or slightly brush up on it. Watching Montenez’s grandfather tell him, “The Monteñez name. If you can show em’ what a Montenez can do, they can’t tell you nothin’. Don’t forget,” is something that many Mexicans have been told in some variation of it. To be proud of your name, family, where you come from and who you are is a major part of Mexican culture.

Watching ‘Flamin Hot’ made me feel good not just about who I am but that I saw someone like myself on the big screen. A story about a Mexican being told on the big screen is no longer an impossible thing. To see Monteñez working at a factory with other Mexican coworkers made me feel as if I was there with my people. This new age of Hollywood that is giving voices to many diverse voices, a voice to tell their stories is the way to go. To hell with white critics giving films that empower them to give us low ratings. Their definition of a good film is abstract sets or camera angles with a mediocre plot where they have a ‘writer’ or ‘theater director’ going though the most mondayne shit that we all have been through. 

In 2021, The Los Angeles Times investigated Monteñez’s story about him being the creator of Flamin’ Hot. A Frito-Lay Spokesperson released a statement saying, “we value Richard’s many contributions to our company, especially his insights into Hispanic consumers, but we do not credit the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products to him.” 

Despite the doubts, the controversy and the claims, Director Eva Longoria stays by what the film produces, its message and the fact that a dark skinned Mexican-American who overcame the impossible did the impossible. The strength of one is the strength of all. 

“I never wanted to tell the history of the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto,” said Longoria,  “ … I’ve always been committed to telling Richard’s story. His story is complex and inspiring and motivating. The movie is about Richard Montañez.”

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