Because my mind is burnt from studying all day today, I will post what some have said about my writings. First, on my article of Tortilla Soup...(note: these are all actual emails people have sent me)
I just read your critique of the film Tortilla Soup. I agree with you
and I think you do a great job of decosnstrucing the images. You should
think about writing one on the film Mi Familia.
keep it up
But I don't like compliments. Here is a wannabe deconstruction...
Just wanted to make an observation or two regarding Gustavo
Arellano's article 'Quien es mas macho?':
Firstly, yeah, Latino/Hispanic/Whatever-you-choose to call it
stereotypes are ridiculous. The Latin Lover IS a laughably wide-of-
the-mark depiction of latino males, and silly, cartoonish depictions
of *any* group of people are something that ought to be addressed.
Hollywood filmaking *is* a deeply racist industry that is screaming
to be taken to task for the many odious stereotypes it propagates.
But, having said that, I think that Arellano is guilty of some
cultural blindness of his own.
When he laments the fact that, in American films, "The actor
portraying the Latin Lover doesn't have to be Latin" he seems to be
forgetting that Hollywood has a long history of cultural inaccuracy,
and latino actors are not its only victims. You've always had
Italians playing Jews, Jews playing Italians, Americans playing Irish-
-Peter Lorre playing a Japanese man, for god's sake--and on and on.
I suppose one could make an argument for this being a bad practice,
but if we do make it, why should we limit it to only latinos?
And if Arellano does find this problem so serious, I also have to
wonder why he doesn't see fit to criticise the heavy use of white
European actors like Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem in Mexican
and other Latin American roles. Surely this is an even more
insidious form of Hollywood racism?
One would think that, given Arellano's worries about culturally
accurate casting, he would be happy that the role of the Spanish
actor Hector in America's Sweethearts was actually given to someone
with some sort of legitimate claims to "Spanishness," which Hank
Azaria, as a sefardi, has. I personally was happy to see that
someone who was supposed to be from Spain actually *looked* Spanish,
and I also think that a parody of silly Banderas-style machismo was
long overdue. But Arellano ignores all that and somehow works out a
scenario in which Hector is a sort of archetypal "destroyer of happy
white couples"--an observation which makes my mind boggle. A
cultural note: Spain's population is overwhelmingly white, the
Romany and the children of very recent immigrants forming very small
minorities. Given this, can anyone enlighten me as to how Hector is
supposed to be anything other than white himself?
Maybe it's possible that Arellano is looking so hard at Hollywood
racism that he doesn't see that he's falling into racist traps
Also, as a citizen of the Spanish State, I have to admit that I find
the sentence "Azaria cannot decide whether to employ the lisp native
to Madrid or the guttural Castilian of Moorish Spain" utterly
incomprehensible. The last time I checked, Madrid, though now
forming its own autonomous region, still falls smack dab between
Castilla-Leon & Castilla-La Mancha--in other words, a Madrileno & a
"Castilian" accent are virtually the SAME THING. Also, the so-called
"lisp" (note derogatory terminology) referred to is not "native to
Madrid" but to most of Spain, apart from some, but not all, parts of
the South. And what on earth is meant by the "guttural" language of
"Moorish Spain" is entirely beyond me. Reading Arrellano, I have to
wonder if he's ever even bothered to find out anything about Spain
before making his observations.
We all know that Anglo-American culture has huge misconceptions about
the Spanish-speaking world, but I don't think that's an excuse for us
to fall into the same trap of ignoring our multicultural, multiracial
reality. As a Spaniard, I feel largely erased from the story of
Spanish speakers, not just by ignorant Americans who think Spain is
somewhere near Mexico, but also by US-based latinos (funnily, this
isn't true of those from Latin America) who are very nearly as
uninformed. I imagine it must be even worse for others, like the
Sefardim, whose existence is virtually unkown to most people,
including other Hispanics.
How can we expect the Anglo world to know who we really are if we
don't bother to make the effort ourselves?
Should I respond to this attack? Nah, too easy. And don't think I'm just being arrogant. Besides the fact that no one outside of Spain views Spaniards as "white", the person miscontrues my argument by twisting the use of the term "Castillian". But enough ranting.