Race and Ethnicity in Entertainment
Edward James OlmosThe movie “American Me” by Edward James Olmos who stars and directs the film was trying to make a Mexican-American Godfather (New York Magazine, 1992). The magazine thus says that the Godfather is false that there is no possible glory in crime no possible entry into society from it but it leads to only death and more crime (New York Magazine, 1992). American Me traces the rise and the fall of a fore some gangster Edward James Olmos who spends most of his time in prison. The Magazine found out that apart from this in the joint Edward James Olmos organizes a Mexican Mafia which spills out into streets and takes over the lucrative drug trade (New York Magazine, 1992).Besides that the New York Magazine (1992) found out that the movie “American Me” may be authentic in such details as tattoos, lingo, the rituals of greetings and death.
Instead the publication says that the movie “American Me” is a mess incoherent in many details large and small. At the same time “Olmos wants to attack violence and macho bullheadedness in a movie that for much of its length celebrates, precisely and violence” (New York Magazine, 1992, p. 60).The magazine continues to say that Olmos establishes himself as the hero who tries to lead his community through crime to a position of respect and power (New York Magazine, 1992). It also notes that Olmos was not a flexible enough actor to bring out the contradictions of the role.
As a result New York Magazine (1992) says that “right to the end Olmos stays locked in his celebrity profile, growling, formidable, a brooding tiger of a man” (p.60). Edward James Olmos in the movie American Me embodies the gang’s common belief that one cannot show weakness for a moment or he or will be finished. Edward James Olmos plays Santana as ruthless and smart but the main issue is that one is astounded when the character begins talking as if the drug trade will result to the Mexican-American community efforts to bring about social reforms.Berardinelli & Ebert (2005) says that the story centers around Olmos a small time hood on the outside who becomes a big time prison gang leader on the inside.
Olmos in the movie “American Me” organizes his fellow prisoners in an attempt to improve their conditions. Berardinelli & Ebert (2005) further says that he was after power. Olmos was the most accomplished of all the characters in the movie because he tries to portray his character over a span of about 20 years without ever seeming to age (Berardinelli & Ebert, 2005).Mendible (2007) says that the artsy biopic about the queer feminist Frida Kahlo, Hayek recuperated her on screen image and public Hollywood persona. From the movie Hayek the subject disrupts gendered, raced and nationalistic borders while Hayek the body remains constrained by a history of racialized and sexualized mainstream media representations (Mendible, 2007). In his further studies Mendible (2007) found out that “the dual discourses of desire and transgression provide the context for analyzing the cultural role of popular representations of Hayek and Hayek’s performance of Frida” (p.
118).In his further studies Mendible (2007) says that “Hayek functions as racial, sexual, transnational, and symbolic bridge between the representational politics of and exotic, ethnically ambiguous sexuality and a nationalistic, politicized sexuality that threatens to transgress normative definitions of Latina femininity and sexuality” (p.119). According to Mendible, Hayek portrays a sexually attractive, emotionally temperamental character who often speaks Spanish at the angry drop of a hat (2007). In addition, Mendible continues to say that throughout Hayek’s Frida it is her sexuality and physically curvaceous body rather than the performance of a specific ethnic identity that have been grounded in the movie (2007).
In Hayek’s film there is depiction of racial and ethnic identity is cinematically undetermined but the variation was marked by the performance of a hyper sexuality that stands in opposition to white hetero-normative definitions of socially appropriate feminine sexuality (Mendible, 2007).Moreover, Mendible (2007) continues to say that throughout her bid to produce and star in Frida, Hayek exploited the nationalistic rhetoric of ethnic purity and homogeneity to argue that as the true or pure Mexican she should be the one to portray her life. It was noted that Hayek uses nationality and language as the source of a pure or stable identity and therefore co modifiable authenticity in her production of Frida. Mendible (2007) therefore says that through Frida, Hayek ideologically recuperates her accent and uses it as a mechanism for keeping the movie accessible to English speaking audiences.Candelaria, Garcia & Aldama (2004) says that Selena began singing at the age of eight when her father discovered her strong vocal capabilities. They continue to say that Selena made her first live television appearance on the Johnny Canales Show in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Candelaria, Garcia & Aldama (2004) continue to say that Selena’s influences included country western, English language pop, old school and African American music.Young (2002) says that during much of the movies done by Selena she is seen singing and dancing hence as a result comparison between scenes from Selena and the real life videos used in Corpus show the real character of Selena. Throughout the her movies Young (2002) says that “Selena body and dress creates a subversive discourse and through the staging camera movement, light and dialogue it not only affirms her beauty but represents the degree of repression of the Latina body in the Anglo culture” (p.293).He also shows Selena singing and dancing in different situations and develops a person and an identity through her presence on stage Young (2002). According to Young Selena goes through different wardrobes which include bustier, cowgirl motifs, sequins, big earrings and elaborate hairdos that highlight the details of her body finally arriving at EMI as the Selena who is also an icon of success and recognition and who appears in contrast to previous images in a dress that conceals her typically most prominent physical attributes (2002).
Besides these characters “Selena also embodies the ideal of a woman who even with identifiable characteristics which can be called transnational and who as such transcends rigid geographical limits” (Young, 2002 p. 297). In addition her history as portrayed in this movie endeavors to reconceptualize the notion of the spaces which include geographic, imaginary and symbolic that the Latinos are supposedly supposed to occupy the United States (Young, 2002). According to Mendible (2007) “Hayek’s cinematic and popular representation of Latinas bring contradictions to homogenizing articulations of gender and ethnic identity circulated through the popular media” (p. 126). Through the representations of Latinos the audience is informed about the contemporary U.
S culture and national identity besides providing us with a site for examining postmodern transnational formations of ethnicity, gender and sexuality. The movie also shows Latinos as people who have been transformed from the localized construction of the individual to the symbolic arena (Mendible, 2007). The movie by Frida shows the commercial strength of Latina bodies and reflects an ideological shift in the cultural and economic marketplace which is driven less by rigid identity binaries than by hybridized narratives of identity (Mendible, 2007). Mendible (2007) continues to say that “although the stereotypic construction of Latina sexuality continues the popular representations of Hayek and Kahlo brings problems to the representation of Latinos identity through dominant discourses about gender, ethnicity and race” (p 127). He also says that the mediated circulation of Latina bodies renders Eurocentric discourses of racial and national purity more difficult to sustain (Mendible, 2007). All this features challenge us to reflect on the complex ways in which Latinos disrupt the dominant binary racial order and serve as ambiguous symbols for marketing and selling difference (Mendible, 2007).
Despite being a Latino Selena uses English as her every day language but her music is limited to Latin. As a result we can say that Spanish becomes the essential and legitimating element for the collective Latino identity working as a territorializing element, because it is the component that anchors cultural values typically associated with being a Latino (Young 2002). Contrary to that Young (2002) says that on the other hand English works in the same way because it also in an element of power, invoking the properties and essence of being from the United States.Young (2002) says that in the movie by Selena Spanish is placed on an equal level with English in such a way that no language could dominate over the other. In this way Young (2002) established that “without knowing it they are destabilizing the privileged space of English from their position as Latinas by denying it as the only tongue in which success is possible” (p. 298).
The film “American Me” as indicated by Berardinelli & Ebert (2005) is not for everyone. He continues to say that it carries out its agenda with little concern for eliminating the comfort barrier that exists between the screen and the audience. In the movie Fools Rush In it involves “Alex Whitman who landed his latest gig in Las Vegas and lands into a girl Salama Hayek a strict Mexican American Catholic who has just broken off an engagement to a long term boyfriend Chuy” (Berardinelli & Ebert, 2005 p. 427). The movie depicts that between falling in love and finding happiness come the complications in form of culture crash.
According to Berardinelli & Ebert (2005) “the movie involving Mexico born Isabel and Connecticut born Alex are from two different worlds and the impending birth of a baby does not sweep away all differences” (p.430).On the other hand the movie “After the sunset” as indicated by Berardinelli & Ebert (2005) has a “charismatic cast, moves with an effortless pace and in the end almost makes you forget that it does not do anything memorable” ( p. 484). Berardinelli & Ebert (2005) continues to say that the film contains elements of a heist movie a mismatched buddy picture and a sultry romance.All the films represent almost the same subject which is the relationship between the Americans and the Latinos but at different perspectives.
Fregoso (1993) says that in the movie “American Me is a race and gender specificity film which speaks mostly to young Latinos males and representing those unfortunate male Latinos locked behind the bars” (p. 131). He continues to say that the film also addresses parents of those youth, rendering a dignity to children whose humanity has been stripped (Fregoso, 1993). This depicts Latinos as people who have been disempowered and poor because of the treatment they get from the Native Americans.In their studies, De Genova & Ramos-Zayas (2003) established that “the context in which Selena is racialized and gendered differences between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans bodies were further accentuated” (p.
91). In addition he continues to say it is the popular tradition and culture of Latina icons such as a Mexican singer like Selena which is depicted as being reanimated on screen by a Puerto Rican actress, might have signaled a potential convergence of Mexican and Puerto Rican femininities into an image of Latina female beauty and sexuality De Genova & Ramos-Zayas (2003). This shows the relationship which exist between the Latinos and Puerto Rican in which the aspect of beauty comes out clearly. The Sexuality of the Latinos takes central stage not only in this movie but also in Frida where Hayek is also considered as beautiful. In both Selena and Frida the Latinos main focus on their sexuality and beauty.
The Latinos inferiority complex is demonstrated in all the films. According to De Genova & Ramos-Zayas (2003) this is evident because in Selena salsa and the success of Puerto Rican performers served as marker of a certain presumed capacity that they possessed as a group which Latinos appeared to lack. De Genova & Ramos-Zayas (2003) says that this was the means used to influence U.S popular culture and global media. Besides this these differences between the Latinos and Native Americans was perceived to be provincial or outdated.
De Genova & Ramos-Zayas (2003) says that these differences were elaborated in terms of distinct cultural forms such as music and dance. In conclusion all the films show the challenges the characters experience by being Mexican American. According to Welsch & Adams (2005) the complaints of the characters are that they are not accepted in Mexico or in the United States and therefore they must work hard. The characters are not strongly tied to their identity or ethnicity but their ethnicity is actually a hybrid, meaning a mix of ethnicities (Welsch & Adams, 2005). As a result Welsch &.
Adams says the characters have to mirror significant aspects of Mexican American culture for their audiences so that people can appreciate other cultures and incorporate elements of those cultures into their own (2005). In this context there is a strong connection between cultural differences and the characters and their race. There are also differences depicted in the ethnic backgrounds were Latinos although considered inferior emerge strong to change the perception of their audiences.