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Edward James Olmos: Celebrity Idealization and the Loss of Memory

Charges of sexually assaulting children, devastation left behind by ‘America Me’ much bigger than Brewer photo

A photo of actor Edward James Olmos sitting in a jet with Arizona governor Jan Brewer emerged early Monday morning on Twitter. It was posted by Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and included the text: “Flying back to AZ with @mbrewer67, @govbrewer, @edwardjolms and Jason Hope. Wheels up.”

A lot raza on Twitter and Tumblr posted the image expressing disappointment in Olmos, some referring to him as a “sellout.”

Brewer is seen by almost everyone in the Mexican community as a villain for having signed Arizona’s racist SB 1070 in April of 2010. Since then, she’s spearheaded other attacks on workers and students, earning her the less-than-flattering nickname of “Governor Bruja,” Spanish for “Governor Witch.”

Aside from the sensationalist element attached to the image of this well known actor seemingly being very friendly with one of our community’s most despised politicians is the issue of celebrity worship and idealization.

Were people disappointed in Olmos because they thought of him as a much more progressive person or simply because he’s a celebrity and they expected him to live up to the heroic image he often portrays in movie roles. Either way, the fault really lies more with those who turn to him and other celebrities for validation.

The fact is, is that “Eddie James,” as he was once known in Hollywood, has never been anything but a self-serving egomaniac with an extremely questionable past. So much so that it’s hard knowing where to start listing the many documented claims of abuse and other transgressions.

The most egregious of claims is that Olmos sexually assaulted a teenage friend of Harvey Keitel and Lorraine Brocco’s daughter at his Florida home in 1992.

A 1998 New York Magazine profile of Keitel titled "Scenes From a Bad Movie Marriage" outlines how Harvey fought Bracco for custody of their daughter after becoming aware of charges of Olmos’ lewd behavior with children.

“‘We have a tragedy here-a man Olmos who passes himself off as a member of UNICEF, of various children’s groups, a guy who goes to the White House and who addressed the Democratic National Convention, who paid money to silence a child from expressing her pain for an act she says he committed… .’ He turned red and subsided, then pumped up again: ‘He took his finger and stuck it in this girl’s vagina,’” referring to the $150,000 Olmos is said to have paid the family of the alleged 14-year old victim as hush money.

If we look at the movie that put Olmos on the map, "American Me," we see that his record of being more concerned with his image while putting others in danger continued unabated.

In May 1992, two months after “American Me” was released, 49-year old , actor and advisor to the movie Ana Lizárraga, was shot and killed in her driveway. Two other advisors to the film were also killed, reportedly by actual members of La EME, the Mexican Mafia.

While kids were being shot and killed at screenings of “American Me” Olmos was known for visiting schools, often in character as the Pachuco, to promote this film under the guise of outreach.

That was almost 21 years ago and apparently too long ago for most young people to remember. But the fact that this information on Olmos has always been publicly available should bring us pause.

Most people have a few skeletons in their closet. In the case of Olmos, he has a cemetery-sized number of them that he should be accountable to. The fact that he rode in an a jet with Jan Brewer should be the least of his problems.

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