Representation in Hollyweird

Recently, the age old issue of “Latino” representation in Hollyweird reared its ugly head again on social media. People argued. They lamented. They moved on. This is an issue that was covered in ¡Ban This! in an article by Chicano actor Del Zamora titled “Where Are the Latinos in Films, TV?” The article, which was originally written for the L.A. Times in 1996, illustrates that this issue never improves, it just makes a cameo now and again. At the time, I felt the need to include the article in the book because the issue is as relevant now as it was then and also in 1996. Yet, Zamora’s point still stands: 

“After all, as one Hollywood executive explained to me, “We don’t have to put you in movies…there were no Latinos in Gotham City and you still came.”

This is a complex issue with a relatively simple answer. We (and I use that term lightly these days), don’t vote with our dollars. The executive from the 90s was correct: we buy tickets anyway. But these days, when it comes to entertainment representation, we have the same stereotypes that have always existed. We are: criminals, cholos, immigrants, spicy sexpots, cartoonish caricatures or corporate whores. The difference these days is that we are the ones pushing these stereotypes now and if corporate America can cash in on it by branding it “woke,” they will. 

No one seems to have any concrete solutions to this issue other than happily accepting the table scraps the industry offers, or just ignoring the issue altogether. Same shit, different decade. Gone are the days of independent hustle and independent creativity. No, people would much rather shine shoes and be thankful for the job than dare to go outside of the tired old shuck and jive business model. Thank god for the indie films that came out of the 80s and 90s or you’d think it was an impossibility. 

You cannot tell me that there are not resources available to create independent film projects these days. Nor can you tell me that Hollyweird wouldn’t notice if their “Latino” pet projects all of a sudden took a hit in the pocketbook. Even so, the problem of supporting indie projects is a whole other can of worms…just ask anyone who has tried to get crowdfunding, support or reviews for their projects outside of the approved stereotypes.  

We won’t support our own these days but we will line up to support corporate stereotypes. Go figure. 

Once upon a time in Hollyweird, we used to have a collective voice to push back. We used to have, at least, some kind of leverage when it came to fighting for and against these kinds of things. We also had a drive to create our OWN projects. But these days, it seems we are more than happy to get a wink and a nod from a corporate sponsor and studio who will pat us on the head and tell us to be grateful…that is when we’re not tearing each other apart online and stabbing each other in the back.

But if you asked me point blank what image comes to mind when I dream about representation on the silver screen it is definitely not in the form of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Foh. 

Many will applaud Eva Longoria and her quest to shine the most shoes in Hollyweird, she’s certainly good at it. And many will say: but how can you criticize the story of a man who rose from humble beginnings as an immigrant janitor to a successful executive responsible for the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?! 

Easy. Because the film, while telling the feel good story of the week, will also be nothing more than corporate propaganda for Frito Lay and Pepsi…the same Frito Lay who is responsible for such classics at “The Frito Bandito.” Member him, kids? 

So, because we live in the goddamn Twilight Zone now, Longoria and her supporters will sell this as another victory for “hispanics,” just as she did for her asinine portrayal of naughty Latina maids as some kind of activist milestone. And she will balk at any criticism and move on the next corporate payday.

Ohhh!! Thank you, Pepsi!! Thank you, Chester Cheetah!! Thank you Frito-Lay!!! Fritos are woke, bruh! 🙏

But I digress. You wanted mas representation? Well, there it is, slick! Sponsored by Pepsi, Frito- Lay and god knows who else has their marketing fingers in this Frito pie. As I said in another rant, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Does this man’s story deserve to be told?! Maybe. But at whose expense?

I cannot envision this as being anything other than one long commercial for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and with a merchandising boom to boot. Insert eye-roll here…after you send Pepsico’s stock soaring.  Ka and Ching. 

Vote with your dollars, folks. Support indie projects when they come along and just say NO to corporate propaganda and shoe shines.

#LaOndaDontShineShoes  

 – S|J|R

 

 

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