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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