Treasures of a Nation, Not Fodder for an Ad
“Hidalgo, under my skin” was the catch phrase for the ads, which featured the soap opera actress Irán Castillo covered with computer-generated images of mountains, waterfalls and monuments.
But federal officials were unimpressed. They did not object to Ms. Castillo’s lying seminude on the grass with hot-air balloons displayed on her body or lounging in a forest with images of rock faces on her flank or even sprawled on a beautiful mosaic wearing nothing but a beautiful mosaic. “We’re not moralistic,” insisted Benito Taibo, an executive with Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History. “We don’t have an issue with her. She’s a pretty girl.”
But the institute did have an issue with Ms. Castillo’s wearing Mexico’s patrimony on her curvaceous form. Whether it was the stone Atlantes in Tula de Allende or the old aqueduct in Padre Tembleque or the former convent in San Nicolás Tolentino, imprinting one of Mexico’s treasures on a soap opera star was deemed a violation of the law.
That means that when a paint company recently asked if it could feature artifacts in a commercial, the institute said no.
The current crop of requests in a thick binder in Mr. Taibo’s office also includes one from the BBC seeking to film a documentary at a pyramid (Sí), another from a university professor seeking to do research at a site (Sí) and a third from a real estate developer who wanted to publish photographs of pyramids in his ads (No).
The institute’s staff pores over a movie script when a production company asks permission to film at a historical site to determine whether the story line is objectionable. “Apocalypto,” Mel Gibson’s 2006 film on the decline of Mayan civilization, received a no.
“We said, ‘You can film anywhere except in our historical zones,’ ” said Mr. Taibo, who is also a published poet. “It was a film loosely based on history, but it was a particularly bloody interpretation of our past.”
Unlike Apocalypto, though, it's hard to see how the Hidalgo ad would hurt anything. It's promoting an interest in Mexico's history--literally trying to make it sexy. That seems like a decent idea to me. (It would be even better if they also used a male model to avoid the appearance of sexism.)