Archive | October, 2011

Characterization of Latinas in Film

28 Oct

It has been the case lately that whenever I watch a movie with a Latina character in it
I try very hard to not roll my eyes. It is simply difficult to understand why film directors cannot develop a Latina character as anything but a skimpily dressed woman. There are some Latina actresses that I love, but cannot truly look up to because the characters they play on film are often not that of a powerful Latina. One example is Eva Mendes. I love the Fast and the Furious franchise. I really do. They are fun action movies that feature beautiful cars. Additionally, the movies are full of Latin characters. However, when it comes to portraying women, even Eva Mendes plays the stereotypical hot Latina.

I understand that the target audience for this type of movie is men. However, don’t men want women to be more than just sexy? Stereotyping Latinas as just a sex object is damaging for men and women. It reduces men to people not interested in what a person can do, and it reduces women to something less than a person, valued only by her appearance. Not only does this diminish the Latina character in film, it also ends up diminishing the whole group of people that I belong in, because if people of other races only see Latinas as sex objects in film, then we will also be only seen as this. I might work hard to get good grades and become a contributing member of society, but if directors keep portraying someone like me as only a sex object in film, then I will only be seen as such by others. There are some directors, such as Quentin Tarantino, who portray women as yes, attractive. However, he still gives his women agency. In his film Death Proof for example, he gives the story of a group of women who are pursued my a man who wants to kill them, but ultimately fight back.

We need more empowered Latinas, and not just someone written in to look sexy for the male benefit.

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Latinos In Hiding

14 Oct

Being Latina is something that I have always been proud of. Knowing that all my achievements are made even greater by the fact that I’m Latina is a plus. Even now, I see celebrities such as Eva Longoria that have done so much not only in their careers but also for causes they believe in and I feel so proud of my ethnicity. However, showing that Latinos are capable of greatness would not be possible if Eva Longoria totally denied that she is Latina.

This brings me to Jessica Alba.

Although Jessica is most certainly Latina, she refuses to be seen as such. In the past she has said, “My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn’t speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.”

I can understand why Alba’s grandfather wanted to forget his Mexican roots. United States wasn’t the place it is now, and Latinos were much more oppressed than they are now. However, I do not see this same logic for Jessica Alba. She is a successful woman, and the audience would pretty much accept anything about her. Additionally, speaking of her having “cut loose” of her roots just makes me sad. Here is a woman who has achieved so much, and yet Latinas cannot look up to her because she does not identify with us.

It is a shame that young Latinas cannot see Jessica Alba as an example of how great it is to be Latina, because Alba just will not recognize her roots. I’m just glad that not every famous Latina feels this way, and to end in a more positive note, here is a video of Selena, who is without a doubt a great example to lead a life by, even if her life was cut short.