One Good Factor: Cash Heist, a joyful TV sequence about combating the system
9 mins read

One Good Factor: Cash Heist, a joyful TV sequence about combating the system

Not often has a TV present impressed such widespread, world insurrection as Casa de Papel. Set in Madrid, the now-five-part sequence tells the story of a gaggle of robbers who steal from Spain’s Royal Mint and, later, the Financial institution of Spain, taking hostages alongside the best way. The entire thing is conceived and led by “El Profesor,” the just about improbably good and well-organized fatherly determine who hatches and directs the best theft Spain has ever seen. Twice.

I’m not often into straight motion sequences, however the ones in Cash Heist, because it’s known as in English, are infused with the working themes of the present: love, friendship, bravery, and, most significantly, resistance. Gunfire-ridden fight is interspersed with rousing monologues from the ladies protagonists who do extra for la revolución than any of the macho shows of bodily dominance — which is fortunate as a result of there’s substantial badass feminist power on this present.

What’s distinctive and finally most inspiring about Cash Heist is its revolutionary impression on real-world protests. Within the sequence, residents line the streets surrounding the Royal Mint and the Financial institution of Spain, chanting their assist for the robbers and booing the state’s violent policing techniques. In actual life, protesters in international locations reminiscent of Lebanon, Iraq, France, and others have borrowed motifs from the present of their struggles for liberation, police abolition, anti-authoritarianism, and anti-capitalism.

Within the first season, I clapped my palms collectively in glee after I realized the robbers, who’re all codenamed after cities, blagged their approach contained in the bodily root of capitalism’s inequality. Of all locations for a heist, the Royal Mint! I virtually jumped off my sofa when it turned clear they have been there to do extra than simply steal cash — they have been going to print it. Then, in season three, they determine to drop €140 million of it from an inflatable hovercraft over Madrid’s most crowded purchasing road.

The present’s primary downfall is its omission of racial and gender evaluation, each within the fictional world of Cash Heist and within the casting. There isn’t any point out of how race and sophistication intersect, regardless of the entire plot revolving round anti-capitalism and anti-authoritarianism. That is no small exclusion; it’s a elementary flaw of the present. This additionally carries over to the casting: The character Nairobi is the one individual of colour in all the present (the actor who performs her, Alba Flores, is of Romani heritage); and the character Manila, who’s trans, is performed by a cisgender actor. These pitfalls render the present a shamefully incomplete tackle the problems it in any other case portrays so precisely and poignantly.

Every new word the robbers produce turns into a symbolic act of defiance. They show the superficiality of wealth creation and the convenience of redistribution in a world of sophistication hierarchies, the place this gang has usually discovered itself on the backside. Moscow, for instance, is a working-class Asturian miner whose spouse left him and his son Denver (additionally a member of the gang) amid a haze of drug dependancy. Moscow’s participation within the heist is pushed by his need for a greater life for himself and his son, a approach out of the grueling mining life and an opportunity to maneuver up the socioeconomic ladder.

Nairobi, an inimitable powerhouse, is a single mother dwelling in poverty who sells medication to pay for dwelling bills. Upon discovering this, a toddler providers company takes away her son and prohibits her from visiting him. Her dedication to the heist is rooted in her perception that, armed with the hundreds of euros they’re set to print and steal, she will get him again. Her enthusiasm as she directs the hostages in printing the payments is underpinned by an ardent conviction that she will defy the ability constructions that led to having her baby taken away. Her cash is her energy. In what’s undoubtedly my favourite scene of all the sequence, she beams from ear to ear, encouraging and praising the hostages’ efforts as she recites her motto, “Pleasure, occasion, and hope!”

A person in a Salvador Dalí masks protests President Sebastian Piñera’s authorities in Santiago, Chile, in October 2019.
Claudio Santana/Getty Photographs

The best way these messages have influenced protests is obvious in how incessantly the robbers’ eye-catching costume of bright-red jumpsuits and masks have been making appearances at protests around the globe. Moreover, the present has revived the previous antifascist Italian protest anthem “Bella Ciao,” which seems at essential moments of success and defiance. It’s lengthy been thought-about a protest anthem in lots of elements of the world — in Iran, in Turkey, and on Wall Avenue — however the present has actually introduced it to a wider public.

In fact, it’s in Italy that the track’s significance is felt deepest. Matteo Salvini, the chief of the ultra-right-wing nationalist political occasion Lega Nord, appears to be, fairly hilariously, met by crowds singing it at him wherever he goes — on the bus, at markets, throughout speeches. It additionally accompanies many different progressive actions in Italy and past: Poojan Sahil’s Punjabi model of the track has gone viral in India, the video set towards the backdrop of the Indian farmers’ protests, which stay ongoing.

Within the present, the track has additionally been utilized in celebratory moments, like when Moscow discovers he has reached the gentle soil layer of the escape tunnel he’s been digging. The assorted members of the group be part of him one after the other, belting out the track collectively in exaltation. Probably the most poignant efficiency of “Bella Ciao” comes within the season one finale, the place we see El Profesor and Berlin sing it collectively in a flashback to the evening earlier than the heist begins. Tears stream down Berlin’s face in defiant anticipation of success. The second was so emotional, I felt my very own tears fall as nicely.

In actual life, a very transferring piece of footage reveals migrants rescued by the NGO Open Arms as they sing “Bella Ciao,” leaping up and down in pleasure and aid at having reached dry land in Barcelona. In March 2020, when Italy started to undergo the best variety of Covid-19 deaths in Europe, a neighborhood within the German city of Bamberg carried out the track from their very own rooftops in solidarity, one other second that introduced tears to my eyes.

In 2020, Nissan workers in Spain took to the streets dressed because the Casa de Papel characters to protest the federal government’s choice to shut Nissan crops throughout the nation. They have been additionally drawing consideration to one thing greater: the rights of staff and the imbalance of energy between company elites and workers.

Puerto Ricans donned the identical costumes to name for the resignation of corrupt Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, utilizing the adage “Somos la puta resistencia,” which interprets to “We’re the fucking resistance” — a reference to a speech made by El Profesor in season three, mixed with arguably probably the most iconic line in the entire 5 seasons, the Nairobi quote “Soy la puta ama” — “I’m the fucking boss.” (Okay, so it’s a bit extra profound in Spanish.)

The notion of police and state corruption has been a longstanding factor of Spanish life. 15-M is the nation’s anti-austerity motion, stated to have impressed Occupy Wall Avenue. Starting on Might 15, 2011, (which is the place the title 15-M comes from) following an enormous financial crash, protests passed off within the middle of Madrid and elsewhere within the nation to demand higher dwelling circumstances, welfare and employment assist, and an finish to political corruption.

Though Casa de Papel got here out a number of years after 15-M started, the motion is taken into account an angle in Spain, a approach of present in society in resistance to austerity and exploitation. As somebody with a background in social justice work, I discover it arduous and irritating to observe reveals that replicate dangerous socioeconomic constructions, reminiscent of those who reward cops and the navy with none reference to the violence and destruction they go away of their wake. It’s stunning to see the sorts of anti-state beliefs mentioned inside activist circles being depicted in certainly one of Netflix’s hottest sequence of all time. The second a part of season 5 — slated to be the present’s remaining season — is set to launch on December 3. Right here’s hoping that the sequence can encourage extra revolutions, extra resistance, and extra liberation within the years to return.

Cash Heist is streaming on Netflix. For extra suggestions from the world of tradition, take a look at the One Good Factor archives.

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