LATINO/A REPRESENTATIONS

Latina/o representation in today’s society has become a major controversial issue. Latino culture continues to be poorly portrayed throughout multiple media platforms. Due to vulgar interpretations and overdramatized stereotypes, most Americans have classified and judged Latinos within these existing assumptions. The most common stereotypes of Latina/o culture include: the greaser, the lazy Mexican, the sexy/feisty Latina, the maid/babysitter, drug addicts and gang bangers (Angharad 2010). These portrayals of Latinidad are far from valid, yet they repeatedly appear on big screens with greater dramatization of Latino stereotypes.

In the 2006 comedy Nacho Libre, actor Jack Black plays a Mexican man named Ignacio who financially struggles to achieve his dream of becoming a “Luchador,” in order to support his Catholic monastery. Jack Black, a non-Latino, plays a poor Mexican man who goes on a journey to become Nacho Libre with his friend, Esqueleto. The film undeniably depicts Latino stereotypes, which may be offensive to those without a sense of humor, or any knowledge of Mexican culture. According to the introduction in Latinas/os in the Media, Valdivia Angharad states, “Puerto Ricans and South Americans are most likely to say they are proficient in English; Mexicans are the least likely to say so…” (Angharad 2010). Language is significant in connecting with one’s heritage and culture; however not speaking English in society creates a catalyst for discrimination and judgment. In Nacho Libre, Jack Black contributed to the stereotype of a Mexican man who cannot speak proper English, by speaking with an accent throughout the film. Jack Black also exaggerates on the pronunciation of certain words to support the false assumption of how Latinos “speak” English (Angharad 2010). The mainstream media creates perceptions of Latina/os as not being proficient in English, are of working class and are not as intelligent. Jack Black’s character, Ignacio, also portrays a level of deviant behavior and social rebellion in order to succeed as a famous and rich Luchador. Although Nacho Libre is not a crime movie as Carlito’s Way, the example given in Ana Liberato’s “Latinidad and masculinidad in Hollywood Scripts,” Ignacio’s masculinity in trying to reach his dreams of success, brings out the “Latino sense of bravado and fearlessness” (Liberato 2009). Ignacio’s involvement with Luchador wrestling and strong desire of wealth and superiority (Liberato 2009) went against his own beliefs and the Catholic Church. His internal conflict supports the negative assumptions of the “Catholic religion” and Latino culture stereotype (Liberato 2009). As stated by Liberato, Jack Black’s character “views dignity as a function of toughness and material exhibitionism.” During a scene, Ignacio chooses to buy a pair of brand new boots and clothes instead of food for the orphanage, which boosts his self-worth and reassurance of success. In the film, Mexican actress Ana de la Reguera, who accurately depicts the stereotypical “sexy Latina,” portrays Ignacio’s love interest. Ironically, she plays a nun who is not feisty, nor promiscuous, yet calm and very passionate about the orphanage and her religion. Ana de la Reguera also contributed to the stereotype of not speaking English very well throughout the film.

The entertainment industry and popular media both continue to portray Latina/os inaccurately in every suitable way. They continue to attach overdramatized stereotypes and false assumptions in which society has played a great part of. It is unfortunate for any culture, especially Latina/os, who are the biggest minority group in America, to be misrepresented in so many ways without any accuracy or resepect.

Short clip of scenes from Nacho Libre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5k8sx7C5gg

Angharad, Valdivia. “Introduction.” Latinas/os in the Media. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010.

Liberato, Ana, et al. “Latinidad and masculinidad in Hollywood Scripts.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32:6.(2009), pp. 948-966.

 

Booty & the Beast

"American Idol" XIV Grand Finale - ShowHOLLYWOOD, CA – MAY 13: American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez onstage during “American Idol” XIV Grand Finale at Dolby Theatre on May 13, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Jennifer Lopez is a bonafide triple threat in Hollywood; the talented “Boricua beauty” from the Bronx has shown the world that she can act, dance, and sing – which is a feat that only a few have conquered successfully across all three categories in the entertainment industry. Despite the breadth and depth of her abilities as an entertainer, the media has shifted the focus away from her talent and versatility, and onto her being “the Puerto Rican girl from the wrong side of the tracks who speaks her mind. They say she is famous for her looks, her bottom, her ex-boyfriend. And her big mouth” (Molina Guzman, pg. 66).

  Guzman’s reading delineates how the media interprets and delivers different messages when talking about ethnic women versus white women in Hollywood. The negative connotations that are attached to ethnic female celebrities like J.Lo, who “embraced her booty as a marketable symbol of desirable beauty,” are meant to counteract the challenge that her celebration of her body had posed on “white cultural dominance” (Guzman, pg. 61). In order to strengthen the pillars of white supremacy, the media took to alienating and devaluing ethnic females through objectifying, hyper-sexualizing, and subsequently reducing these powerful figures to their physical figures. The weakening of an ethnic woman’s esteem in both herself and her ethnic background reasserts “the power of whites to control or contain constructions of nonwhite ethnicity in the U.S. popular culture” through the “white gaze” (Guzman, pg. 65).

This creates a perpetual cycle of building women up about something as fleeting and temporary as their physical appearance—rather than talent or intelligence—and then shaming them for being proud of the bodies that they praised them for having just earlier. As a result, there is a constant anxiety and uncertainty placed on ethnic female celebrities to make sure they fall somewhere within the realm of what’s “acceptable” by Hollywood’s white standards.

White female celebrities are not burdened with the bait-and-switch strategies employed by Hollywood the way their ethnic counterparts are. In fact, they are taking part of the shaming themselves at times. In Negron Muntaner’s article, he mentions Lopez’s own experiences with bullying from white supermodel, Cindy Crawford, who “was repeatedly quoted in the media dissing Lopez’s bodily proportions with drag queen meanness” (Muntaner, pg. 245).

In an atmosphere thick with racial tension and power-struggles, white Hollywood norms are not planning on making any concessions for people who they perceive as inferior. It’s easy to target ethnic females because of their inherent appeal to white men, and white people in general. Ethnic women like Jennifer Lopez, who is proud of her figure and works hard to maintain it, are a threat to the institution of marriage in a hegemonic society. It might be that these white men feel shame for harboring lascivious thoughts and temptations towards the ethnic female body, and their way of relieving themselves that shame and guilt is to transfer it onto the women themselves. Sexism parallels racism in many ways, as Peggy McIntosh pointed out in a previous reading, and the white male patriarchy simply cannot allow these non-white women (for whom they have lusted after and objectified as a piece of meat) actually feel good about themselves, even in a superficial way (McIntosh, “White Privilege”). No, these ethnic women must accept the sexual objectification forced upon them through the media, as well as men in general; they must accept the compliments and perform in a hyper-sexualized way – but only begrudgingly, and never with any pride or empowerment – and always as the subordinate sex and race.

-D. Liao

Native American Representations

I chose to compare theways.org video “Powwow Trail- Keeping the Beat” and the song from Disney’s Peter Pan. The song comes after Peter Pan and the gang save Tiger Lily from the pirates. This particular song is even called “What Made the Red Man Red.” The song is basically saying the Native American man was kissed by a woman and blushed until he was red and now their people are forever red-skinned.

I wanted to compare this with the Native American Reel video because it talks about a young man who participates in the dancing and culture of a powwow. He speaks about his people’s traditions and mentions the fact that there are numerous nations within the Native community who speak different languages, look different, and have many walks of life. The Powwow’s are a way to bring the communities together and they are open to the public so they too can learn and admire the culture.

He mentions the fact that he goes and dances in order to encourage the younger generation to participate in the traditions and culture too. These both fit with the “Myths and Stereotypes about Native Americans” reading by Fleming because the number six myth talked about is about how Native children do not come with the innate knowledge of their history from birth. They too must be taught the traditions, languages, cultural practices, and ideals of their people.

In Peter Pan, the sign language used to speak to Peter and the way Peter is allowed to wear the sacred feather headdress seems misrepresented. But the readings have brought the point that Native Americans are generalized as one large nation and of the same race. But, there are countless nations within nations and languages and cultural beliefs that can vary from just a few miles of distance.

The feather dresses and the pipe passed around and smoked in Peter Pan may be generally similar to real-life tribes, but the song even says “no matter what’s been written or said; now you know the story of the red man.” This points out that false teachings and traditions can be passed on and believed just as easy and true traditions and there are countless Native American stereotypes that have become mainstream.

Sexism in Video Games

Violence, no matter the definition, is prevalent in modern society. It has plagued the country for centuries, through wars, terrorism and even entering homes through the media. The violence has become so prevalent that the partaking in violent tendencies is becoming quite acceptable.

The video game industry has taken advantage of this desensitized craving and made the target audience young male gamers. Cutting out violence from such an impressionable demographic was even ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2011. Ruling against the ban of sale or rentals of such games to children left open another market for more military and action games.

However, the pursuit for more a casual market of gamers was pushed towards women and older adults, but, the core audience remains with younger suggestible males. As referenced in Chapter 5 of the book “Race, Culture, and Gender in the New Media Age,” the author says that, because the demographic of the video game industry has grown tremendously male-dominant, sexism towards women is only growing (Wilson ll, 120-121).

One of the best known female characters in video games is Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. Though her bravery and strength throughout her virtual adventures can be seen as power to women, it can also show the mass sexualized nature towards women, each to be seen as just their bodies. This is rampant when Croft’s signature outfit is shorts and exposed midsection and arms in a tight tank top.

The character even took life in film when the most sexualized women at the time, Angelina Jolie, portrayed the character on screen. She was and is still sought after because of her large lips and breasts and this is only the basic form of sexism that happens throughout video games and media. Treating women as objects, for just their bodies, changing appearances and proportions of body parts, even virtually, in order to sell, is sexism.

The male demographic has so much control over the marketing and creative attention of the gaming industry, which women are being left out of even the production line of video gaming creation. The reading speaks of the 2007 survey by Game Developer magazine, saying that barely 20 percent of the gaming industry’s work force was female and only a low three percent of women were actual game programmers.

A small victory for women involved or affected by the gaming industry was in 2006 when E3 banned “booth babes,” who were women appearing scantily clad to attract the male gamers passing by. The book author quoted Simon Carless, publisher of the Game Developer magazine, who said, “It’s important for women to be involved creatively because we need to broaden the reach of games…They should be a universal art form.”

Sexism will only cease if women and men alike stand against such broodish behavior, because sexualizing women in games does not empower women of this modern age to be treated as equal and as fairly as the controlling male demographic that is still in power today.

Asian Misrepresentations

Asian and Asian Americans are a nearly-invisible group when it comes to representation and presence in media/Hollywood, despite their being the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. since 2010. Hollywood’s brief and sordid interest in making Asian-themed movies during the early 20th century involved depictions and representations of Asian people that were inaccurate at best, and disparaging at their worst. The most common and ill-conceived portrayals during that time were of Asian men as sexual deviants or, conversely, as asexual eunuchs, opium drug-lords, gangsters, and evil masterminds. Asian women were portrayed almost in opposition of their male counterparts; they were usually the exotic seductress, cunning mistress, or love interest who repudiates her culture and ethnic identity to assimilate to white society (Marchetti, pp. 2-5).

What’s more, many of the Asian roles were not even portrayed by actual Asian actors or actresses, but by white ones. “The practice of white actors playing Asian and Asian American characters were not scarce. When such characters did exist, a convention of yellow face ensured that they were played primarily by whites (Ono Pham, pg. 45).” Thusly, the earliest imagery many people had of Asian people were actually of white people performing explicit yellowface, which allowed them full control of the way the character was conveyed. The image of Mickey Rooney in explicit yellowface as “Mr. Yunioshi” for Breakfast at Tiffany’s has provided yet another unsavory Asian archetype manufactured by Hollywood. His exaggerated yellowface that featured his taped eyes, balding head and cartoon-like buck-teeth did not paint a pretty picture of Asian men. “Mr. Yunioshi functions as comic relief, especially through his unrealistic desire for Ms. Golightly. His broken english, excessive clumsiness, and implausible sexual fantasy are there for the comedic pleasure of the non-Asian audience (Ono Pham, pg. 49).”

Furthermore, these images are generally devoid of historical, cultural, or racial substance. This is largely due to their being the creation of white writers and filmmakers, who had no genuine knowledge of the East and its vast array of different cultures, societal structures, languages, religious standings, and political systems. “White media producers have created imaginary and derogatory fictional representations of Asians and Asian Americans, while Asian and Asian American actors simultaneously are virtually excluded from writing or playing such roles (Ono Pham, pg. 46).” Keeping Asians out of the industry, even in Asian-themed films, has only made it more difficult for people to accept real Asians into society because of their lack of exposure to authentic Asian people that are relatable.

Postmodern representations of Asians have not changed much, in spite of the relatively forward-moving trajectory of almost all other groups. There have even been recent instances of yellowface, such as Alex Borstein playing “Ms Swan” on MadTV, or Eddie Murphy as “Mr. Wong” in Norbit (Ono Pham, pg. 52). It seems as though everyone is allowed to have a laugh at Asians, at the expense of Asians. Consequently, alienation and vilification of Asians in Hollywood has cemented their roles as “the others” in the U.S. on and off the screen.

Works Cited

Marchetti, G. (1993). Romance and the “yellow peril”: Race, sex, and discursive strategies in

Hollywood fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ono, Kent A., and Vincent N. Pham. “Media Yellowface “logics”” Asian Americans and the

Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. 45-62. Print.

The Persecuted Pilgrims: America’s Oppression of the Latin Community

Ace Campaign with Sofia Vergara - Press Conference

The United States has been embroiled in a prolonged hate/love/hate relationship with the Latina/o community, especially the Mexican community. Although the nation has happily embraced a great portion of Latin cuisines and some of its diverse cultures, there remains an almost palpable sense of animosity towards Mexican and Latina/os by the Anglo-American population. Early depictions of Mexicans on television and in movies would paint a largely negative image of the entire Latin and even the Hispanic community. Prior to the advent of Hollywood archetypes and as early as the late 1800s, depictions of the slovenly immigrant wearing a sarape and reposing underneath a cactus with a sombrero over his face for shade became the unwarranted spokesperson for all Spanish-speaking immigrants. The image still remains, though now it is not widely accepted as truth. Modern representations differ greatly for Latina/os, but at a price: low visibility in the media.

Post-Hollywood images of Latina/o people have changed to be a little more accepting, but that might only be due to the sparse amount of representation. This is not for the lack of entertainers or talent from the Latin community, but rather the lack of Hollywood casting agents willing to hire them for leading roles. A popular image of Latina/os that comes to mind today are basically any photo of Sofia Vergara — a beautiful and alluring Colombian actress who embodies Hollywood’s archetype of the feisty Latina temptress. But even this image is a very narrow and one-dimensional trope that is meant to represent Spanish-speaking women only.

The reason why an image of Latina/os in the media is hard to conjure up is due to two pervasive realities: one, the Latin community is rife and brimming with more diversity in culture, dialects, beliefs, races, heritage, and nationalities than any singular image is capable of representing; and two, Hollywood is replacing their Latina/o talent with Anglo-Americans/Europeans — even for specifically Latina/o roles. One arena that Latina/os have not been excluded from, however, is in broadcasted segments dedicated solely to one controversial topic: immigration.

“Latinos comprise just 1 percent of news stories. When they do appear on camera, it’s not as an anchor in a suit with coiffed hair but on the background video feed as a criminal or in relation to illegal immigration,” says Weston Phippen in an article for The Atlantic. The media’s refusal to cast Latina/o actors in Latina/o roles is a blatant insult to the Latina/o community. To invite them only to speak about immigration issues is blatant disregard for them as anything more than an expert on immigration. Why is this so bad? If one takes their representing a voice for the Latina/o community at face value, then of course there is no other candidate for whom to adequately speak on behalf of Latina/o population on the topic. The problem lies in the fact that audiences will continue to associate real images of Latina/os in America with the topic of immigration itself. That means, Americans who hold the sentiment of all immigrants being “illegal” will likely equate any Latin-looking person with that very sentiment — hence the imperative need for more diverse and visible Latina/o representations in Hollywood.

-Dotty Liao

Representation of Blackness

Instagram Photo

“Much of the post-Civil War literature paints a negative image of black people designed to reinforce institutional and social racism. Many of the accusations against Black integrity that emerged during Reconstruction are now too familiar: laziness, slow wit, loose standards of morality, fondness for alcoholic beverages, and so on” (Wilson, Gutierrez, Chao, 58).
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I felt like this image was very relevant to both the assignment and in real life. It covers multiple aspects of the course, but mainly that Black people have been and will continue to be painted in a negative fashion. The same rhetoric that was used to create racial divide in the Reconstruction-era is being recycled by figures such as Donald #drumpf in order to perpetuate this form of systemic and cultural racism.#donalddrumpf #blacklivesmatter#perpetualracism #fayettevillenc #fiatoa

Grey Areas

  • “Blackness does not only reside in the theatrical fantasy of the White imaginary
    that is then projected onto Black bodies. Nor is Blackness always consciously
    acted out. It is also the inexpressible yet undeniable racial experience of Black
    people*the ways in which ‘the living of Blackness’ become material ways of
    knowing . . . The interanimation of Blackness and performance and the tension
    between Blackness as ‘play’’ and material reality further complicates the notion of what constitutes a Black ‘‘performance’’ and of what playing Black is and what
    playing Black ain’t” (Johnson, 2005, p. 606). 

  • I chose this image and quote because I think that it’s so important to remember how much stereotyping and unconscious presumptions on racial behaviors are mostly a product of WHITE Hollywood. People often take these depictions of Black people, as well as other minorities, for face value, despite knowing that Hollywood is a land of make-believe. Somehow, Whiteness has had a huge role in shaping the way others perceive and define Black culture, and the subtlety makes it almost imperceptible that many people who are non-black are ignorant or oblivious to the incredible barriers that the black community faces in almost every aspect of their lives. They are punished for displaying passions and emotions because of their being black, even when white people can display the same, or even more, passion towards the same subject, and be admired for that very same fervor. Awarding and praising Black individuals for carrying themselves the way White people would is detrimental and regressive because it reaffirms that “white is right,” and that type of flawed thinking prevents social progress for minority groups.

Made in Hollywood: The American Indian Archetype

American films in Hollywood have a long and fraught history with cultural subjugation and appropriation, which can be traced all the back to the budding of the cinema, with silent films. Among the most popular themes embraced by early filmmakers was of the Western genre, which often involved depictions of Native American Indians. Soon, Westerns became America’s go-to motif in 20th century films. As early as 1912 with Thomas Ince’s Heart of an Indian, all the way to the ‘70s, representations of Indians on the silver screen have been guiding audiences towards a fantasy of the “noble savage.” Recently, some efforts have been made to dispel the contrived caricature of Native Americans in Hollywood, but does comedic relief offer a meaningful message to a community who have faced such enduring hardships?

In some cases, humor can be used to lessen the blow of delivering a hard-hitting truth; conversely, it may trivialize a large and serious problem. In an episode of Family Guy, the Griffin family is on a road trip when Peter, the father/husband, stops at an Indian casino to go to the bathroom. Inside, Indian gamblers donning feathers and name tags with “Running Bear” and “Change for a Buck” on them. Later on Lowes is speaking to an Indian worker at the casino who tells her that “technically, it’s not really gambling. It’s just us trying to rebuild our shattered culture after you raped our land and defiled our women.” Loves then says, “well, as long as you’re not using it for fire water,” and proceeds to gamble away the family’s savings and car. This depiction of Indians being greedy alcoholics with nonsensical names don’t accurately reflect such a diverse group of peoples. This similarly reflects popular literature in the mid-1800s, in that it is “without regard for the distinctions of more than 2,000 different cultures, languages, and value systems” that Indians represent.

In Clan Mother, the reality is much less humorous. The short documentary featured theways.org shows how an elder woman, named Molly Miller of the Munsee tribe, is helping to rebuild her community after she loses her son to an apparent suicide. Molly struggles with the death of her 15-year-old son, like many Indian families who have lost a loved one to suicide. Through her hardship, she develops an urgency to bring her community together. This shows how much colonization has truly impacted Native Americans. Molly isn’t speaking with bitterness or coercion, but with vulnerability, pain, and determination to continue her cause and find a purpose in her life by helping her people.

Hollywood will continue to influence the world with their manufactured archetypes of other cultures, but the impact of seeing “the real thing” has an effect that’s much more powerful.

sources:

http://red-face.us/redface-film-tv.htm

http://theways.org/story/clan-mother

Wilson, Clint C, Félix Gutiérrez, Lena M. Chao, and Clint C. Wilson. Racism, Sexism, and the Media: The Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2003. Print.

-Liao

Latino Representation

Mexican

  • “Cruelty was not the only negative trait the scribe to Mexicans. Cecil Robinson, in his 1977 book “Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest in American Literature”, caught a cold the origins of several stereotypes, which began to appear in Anglo writings before and during the U.S.-Mexican War. During that war American naval Lieutenant H.A. Wise wrote that Mexicans were “beyond comparison The laziest and most ignorant set of vagabonds the world produces” (Wilson II, Gutierrez, Chao, 59).

    I really enjoyed how this picture actually tackles several different negative aspects when considering the relationships between Mexicans and Whites. However for the sake of this assignment, I will be focusing on the “lazy” stereotype that is portrayed onto many Mexicans, both documented and not. From the reading, it is easy to recognize the inaccurate representation of Mexicans, which then results in a stereotypical belief that supports the hateful motives and institutionalized racism such as the Arizona Immigration Bill and Donald Trump. When In reality, some of the most hardest working people in this beautiful country are the Mexican field laborers. And for those that claim that this mass wave of immigration is taking away jobs from Americans, I can only laugh and reference this image, because the types of jobs that Mexicans are stereotypically stealing are jobs that the average American would never even consider. #makedonalddrumpfagain

  • #adaywithoutamexican

  • #estasloca

  • #sleepymexican

  • #fiatoa