The 90th Oscars: A Change

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The Me’s of 2018 have just come to a close (my name is Oscar). It’s very alarming to hear celebrities say my name so excitedly, or at all for that matter. The only other Oscar in Hollywood right now is Oscar Isaac and he keeps to himself for the most part. Maybe he is a me that came from the future to give me hope that I would grow up to be good looking and successful. Maybe he is just a harsh reminder of an Oscar that I will never become. Anyways…the Oscars.

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The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro was nominated for almost everything and won quite a few too: Best Score, Best Production Design, Best Director, and the big boy himself: Best Picture. The Disney animated film, Coco, also took home a couple of awards including Best Original Song and Best Animated

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The song “Remember Me” along with the other original song nominees were performed live. Objectively, the performance of Remember Me was the most extravagant. It is, after all, a movie about the Mexican Day of the Dead. We Mexicans are very extra, so I wouldn’t have the performance any other way. The three performers Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia LaFourcade brought a pivotal scene from the film to life. I was kind of hoping that the giant bell at the back of the stage would fall, but not squish anyone to death. *Spoilers for Coco if you haven’t seen it. Oops*

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Not one, but three prominent Mexicans singing a beautiful song in English and Spanish complete with a full mariachi band and choreography lit up the little Mexican boy inside me. He was shocked to see his culture represented on the largest stage in Hollywood. I don’t know if the theatre had the largest stage, but I’m talking about The Oscars. Primetime awards for the best of the best. Home to a committee made by and for old, white, men.

That is changing, maybe started by Moonlight’s win last year. This was the year of representation at the Oscars. Ladybird had a female writer and director, Greta Gerwig. Mudbound had a historic moment as a woman was nominated for Best Cinematography. Get Out was nominated for best Picture and while it didn’t take that home, Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay. Call Me By Your Name won Best Adapted Screenplay, being a story about gay love. A Fantastic Woman, a Chilean film starring the first transgender Oscar presenter Daniela Vega, won Best Foreign Language Film.

Insane. It shouldn’t be, but it is. In a Hollywood plagued with creeps, racists, and sexists, this year proved that the world is changing. The good are getting what they deserve. By the way, Taraji P. Henson used almost those same words to Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet on national live television to his face. If you didn’t understand why that was so awkward, it’s because he has been one of those accused in the Hollywood witchunts. Basically, you get what you put out into the world.

The way I pitched this year’s Oscars to my grandma, a traditional Mexican woman, was the inclusion of so many Latinos. Eiza González and Eugenio Derbez were presenters along with Gina Rodriguez, Rita Moreno, the afore mentioned Oscar Isaac and Daniela Vega, Lin Manuel Miranda, Salma Hayek, and Lupita Nyong’o. Alejandro González Iñárritu won a Special Achievement award for his film Flesh and Sand. He, Alfonso Cuarón, and Del Toro are the Three Amigos of Hollywood. Now all three of them have Oscars. I think I heard “Viva Mexico” 3 times during the ceremony. It gave me hope. Not just Latinos, but all marginalized groups are being given the opportunities and respect to demonstrate our talents.

After Frances McDormand’s speech, production companies are utilizing the inclusion rider clause, which adds the assurance of gender and racial equality among cast and crew. We need more representation on both sides of the camera. Look at Wonder Woman and Black Panther. Women and people of color can make amazing films. My grandparents came to this country in the 70’s. When we watched Coco, she said, “And people watched this. Not just Mexicans?” I told her how successful it was and all the great things that were happening in Hollywood by showing her how many successful female comedians there are. She replied, “But I thought they hated us? Why do they hate us and still like our art?” That I couldn’t answer, because I don’t know the true answer. All I know is that a new generation of creative people has bloomed and we are not going to allow the same roadblocks that hindered our predecessors to obstruct young talent anymore.

The Best GIF of the night goes to…Jennifer Garner realizing something!

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Out of Africa Analysis

Blixen the Vixen

She had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills (Out of Africa). Typically when watching a film based in Africa, the main characters are African. Considering how interesting Karen’s perspective, I will accept that all of the primary characters are wealthy Europeans. Karen is an independent woman, much like female characters are written in today’s cinema. While she so happened to fall in love with a man, she proved herself to be a smart businesswoman and political powerhouse. She had money and all she needed from Bror was his title. Unfortunately, he would consummate the marriage with the gift of a deadly disease. Even having been given a death sentence, she powered on. Her authority throughout the film is displayed through her interactions with several groups including the natives, the women, and the men.

When Karen first set foot on African soil, her privilege was evident. She wanted them to be careful with her fine crystal. Living on their part was pure survival and she was an adventurer. Life was a luxury to be enjoyed. Perhaps through proximity in work and residence, she began to sympathize with the natives. She ultimately is a caring person. She insisted on the village boy, who would later become her houseboy, to seek medical attention with his injured leg. She knew how to use reverse psychological in order to persuade him to get help despite his pride. She also wanted the local children to be educated. Karen pleaded that more privileged children did not ask to be taught how to read and the African children shouldn’t have to either (Out of Africa). Even the chief of the village warmed up to Blixen’s insistence to better the community, displaying his respect for her and her endeavors. She respected all the natives too, which is why it had never crossed her mind to utilize the natives’ land for plating. She worked side by side with her workers, something most plantation owners and especially no women would even think of doing.

Karen is not a woman of her time. She begins her proposal to Baron Bror by stating what was at risk. She hadn’t found love or a husband and would be denounced as a lonely spinster. Women needed a man to find happiness. She only needed his royalty. Such was the ideal of marriage. We are introduced to another female character, Felicity. She is very much like Karen in that they don’t adhere to female stereotypes. She states that she wants to “run her own show” like Blixen does. While she would like a man, she doesn’t want to belong to someone else. She supposes that women are “supposed to want to be taken” (Out of Africa). While the conclusion of their discussion isn’t captured, Blixen’s response insinuates that Felicity should want to be her own woman, to not wait like a princess in a tower. While on her first outing on safari Blixen is a damsel in distress, she is no stranger to a rifle and a few big game kills. She can obviously take care of herself physically as demonstrated by her take down of a charging lioness. She can protect herself among charging lions as well.

Blixen was often the sole woman among a pride of men. Still, she was often the most powerful or influential. During her first dinner with Finch-Hatton, she lets him know that a real traveler has no need for food or drink. She wanted to make it known that she was just as experienced as any other hunter. Surely, Blixen had been hunting since her schoolgirl days. One of the greatest scenes displaying her prowess was when Finch-Hatton and Barkley demanded to know what she was doing on her way to meet Delamere. Barkley says, “That’s ridiculous. We don’t send women to war”. Karen’s response is, “Well I’m going” as she gets on her horse and continues her journey (Out of Africa). She was the only person to match Finch-Hatton’s spontaneousness. Karen was the type of woman that would be found in today’s society, being that she was liberal in her marriage. Perhaps it was because she held resentment for his philandering or because the initial commitment was a scam, but Blixen was completely willing to let her legal husband go off to be with other women and eventually divorce her to be with one. Then again, she wasn’t being completely faithful either.

Karen Blixen would make a great Disney princess, although I’m not sure how they would convey the adultery and sexually transmitted disease. She was far ahead of her time. Considering her status and wealth, one wouldn’t be blamed for labeling her a privileged white woman taking advantage of African workers and land. The first 20 or so minutes and certain chapters from the book would create the same impression. Those same people must not have known of her contribution and sole management of her coffee plantation. How many Disney princesses can create their own empire during the week and take down full-grown lions from 50 feet away without flinching on the weekend? It is through her interactions with others and the environments around her that amplify her bravery and intelligence.O

Lois Lowry and The Giver Analysis

The Giving Lois Lowry

Dystopian literature has been around for ages. Humans seek answers to the unrelenting question of what the future holds. The last great dystopian novel was George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949. Needless to say, it had been a long time until an author had delved into that type of world. In Lois Lowry’s most famous novel The Giver, she explored the idea of a seemingly utopian dystopia.

Lois Lowry was born in Honolulu on March 20, 1937 to an Army officer father and at age 19 married a naval officer. Her son would become an Air Force pilot and die in a plane crash. She was constantly surrounded by war and often wrote about the inner lives of innocent civilian families during those troubling times. Perhaps that is why she was so curious about a time where war would no longer exist. She sought a perfect society, without crime or grief (“Lois Lowry”).

The novel The Giver centers around a young boy named Jonas who lives in a seemingly perfect community without conflict. Presumably, the world is a post apocalyptic one as we see memories from the past including images of war. Memory plays a huge role in the story. It takes place in a monotonous world. Everyone is equal and the elders of the community make every decision for you. Some are chosen to be caregivers, engineers, or farmers, but only one is chosen to be “The Receiver”. The main character is given the title of “The Receiver” and fittingly so. The Receiver is the only one who has access to human history. They possess the mental imagery of colors, animals, music, and historical events. The basis of that ostracism of information is the idea that if all of the past, good and bad, is hidden from the general population then there is less to lead to conflict. Race and status do not exist in this haven. Everyone is healthy, partially due to bikes being the primary form of transportation and disabled, elderly, and weak newborns being disposed of, or sent to “elsewhere”. “Elsewhere” is in reality just the act of euthanasia, but no one including Jonas’ doctor father comprehend the horror in the action. Jonas serves as the hero of the series. From early in his life, he questioned everything and would eventually bring society’s collective memories back to the people with the help of the previous “Receiver” now called “The Giver”(Lowry).

The largest moral of the story is the importance of memory to society at large. Memory makes the individual and shapes them into the unique character that they are. Jonas began his journey into memory by learning about the beautiful aspects of history and culture. He enjoyed music, dance, animals, and slowly began noticing colors in his own life. As he progressed in his knowledge, he learned about war and cruelty. Because he and everyone he has ever known had never experienced such things, the memories he saw were traumatizing (Lowry).

This novel was a large contribution to American Literature. Written as a children’s book, with evocative imagery, intriguing characters, and understandable vocabulary, this novel resulted in a following breaking all age and geographic barriers. The book won several awards and is usually assigned to students in school. Its fitting that young children read this book as they are often oblivious to the dangers of the world and only see the beauty in it, the same way Jonas did towards the beginning of his journey.

The memories of the characters are suppressed using daily dosages of drugs. Lois Lowry says that this idea stemmed from watching her father being put in a nursing home. He was beginning to lose memory as is usual with old age. She showed him a picture of her older sister and he couldn’t remember her name nor the fact that she had died. Lois wondered if life would be easier without those painful memories. Is it true that ignorance is bliss?

The reader questions if such a world is better than the one we are living in. If you choose to eliminate half of what you know, are you taking away half of what makes up life? This begs the question, can you truly appreciate the good in life if there is no bad to compare it to? The conflict of choice is removed from “The Giver” characters. Even before they are born, their life is planned out for them. In addition to posing philosophical questions, this novel revolutionized young adult literature and paved the way for other dystopian literature such as “The Maze Runner”, “Divergent”, and “The Hunger Games”. The initial book was followed by three more to round out “The Giver Quartet” series. Each novel followed a new character in a different type of society until all the characters meet in the last book. For example, “Gathering Blue”, the sequel, takes place in the complete opposite of the initial futuristic community and rather shows a primal way of life. In 2014, the novel became a feature film and reintroduced the world to a new generation of children.

Dances With Wolves Film Analysis

 

Dances with Wolves

The film Dances with Wolves was a passion project of director and actor, Kevin Costner. I am inspired by prominent figures in Hollywood who go out of their way to embody important stories on the big screen, especially the stories of discriminated groups without a voice. Native American tribes were the original inhabitants of what is now the United States of America. Their sacred land was stolen and they were evicted from their homes and forced to the abyss in lethal conditions. So many times in civilization’s history, groups have been seen as nuisances in a more powerful group’s attempt at conquest. In lieu of America’s political climate today, we can learn from this classic piece of cinema. Dances with Wolves is an inspiring piece of art with a strong message that remains relevant to today’s American issues and should be admired as one of the staples of American cinematography.

Dances with Wolves is one of those movies that is legendary in pop culture yet I had never seen it before. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that this film had won a few Academy Awards and is one of the few widely recognized media creations that used actual Native American actors. I was instantly shocked at the accurate portrayal of war. The gruesome reality is often glamorized for media. I put myself in Dunbar’s boots in that medical tent and believe I would have done the same thing. If he had allowed the surgeon to amputate his foot, the psychological scars of war would become physical and he would never be able to forget his past, that is if he survived the war (Costner). He felt like a pawn in someone else’s war. He looked over at the pile of fallen pawns before him, represented by fallen soldier’s boots. He identified with Cisco the horse immediately because Cisco had literally been branded a pawn of the military as well. When he rode into “No Man’s Land”, he was trying to die. When he survived, he chose to flee to the frontier. The Major aka “The King” was a manifestation of what become of most soldiers as a result of the trauma. Two Socks was the embodiment of Dunbar’s relationship with nature, he wants to get closer but he fears the unknown wild. For Dunbar, it was easier to stay at the fort and wait for reinforcements that would never come, than travel further west. All would change when he encountered the first Sioux (Costner).

The Sioux were very primal and instinctual, which may have been to their advantage. The first one Dunbar saw up close tried to steal Cisco, confirming his pre-conceived bias of Native Americans as savages and thieves. Still, Dunbar was intrigued by the mysterious people (Costner). If Stands with a Fist had been found injured by any other soldier, regardless of being white she would have been used to find the rest of the tribe and killed along with the rest. We know this because of how Dunbar was treated by the soldiers. As we know by Dunbar’s considerable choices, he was no ordinary man. He was willing to not only invite Kicking Bird and Wind in his Hair to his home, but shared his resources whilst sitting among them in equality. When he was finally trusted into the tribe, Dunbar found the sense of community he was lacking and an honest rebuttal to his own prejudice expectations.

I find the storyline of this film to be reminiscent of what is happening today. The white Americans believed in manifest destiny. It was their god given right to colonize the west, regardless of whom they had to fight for it. Hundreds of years later, the white supremacists of America seek to retake their land and power in society. They blame Mexicans for taking their land and jobs although they took Mexicans land-California and Texas- in a very similar way to the Native Americans. They see African Americans as savages and thieves because they do not understand them and fear their culture. The soldiers who found Dances with Wolves called him an “injun”, an outdated and offensive term for a Native American, because he had sympathized with them. He was a traitor in their eyes. It took patience and communication between John and the tribe to create understanding and even friendship, as displayed by Wind in his Hair’s progression from “I do not fear you” to “I am your friend”(Costner). We can learn from that relationship. They were able to teach each other. In addition to friendship, Dances with Wolves was able to learn his place among nature.

The contrast between the Sioux and the white men in attitude towards nature is evident in their actions. For example, early in the film we see Timmons, the oddball mule owner, toss a tin can over his shoulder into the open prairie. Dunbar is confused by the insensitive action, but Timmons seems to have no second thoughts. The white men also seek to claim as much of the land as they can, even referring to the Native Americans as “thieves” of their property (Costner). The Sioux in opposition treat the land as a provider of life, uprooting their whole home to pursue the buffalo. The white men killed the first herd for “tongues and hides”, leaving the rest of the carcass to rot in waste. A soldier shot Two Socks, seeing the wolf as prey rather than the friend that John had found in him. This film is a visually stimulating and raw representation of the American Frontier. The ending may have seen like a let down, but I would have expected nothing less that the true ending all Native American tribes faced. It is a reminder of America’s horrific past and a warning to prevent history from repeating once again.

 

First Amendment Protections of Social Media

It is no longer up for debate. Social media are in fact some of the most powerful mediums in conveying information. Still, they are relatively a modern phenomenon. The Internet itself hasn’t even been around for long, but it has been the source of societal strides and progression in humans’ intellectual evolution. Because these media are so new, they are unknown territory in a legal sense. The common misconception about these sites is that users are free to post whatever they want without repercussions. That is simply not the case.

The first social media platform was in 1997. It was called SixDegrees.com and was followed by Friendster in 2002, both having moderate popularity. Eventually came MySpace in 2004, bringing the layout of social media to a new era. In the same year, came Facebook, the new kid on the block. Facebook has 800 millions users with a total of 1,851,000 updates every 20 minutes and at least half of those users visiting the site daily, making Facebook the 2nd most visited website after Google. In 2006, Twitter came along, with 1 billion tweets per week, 230 million user visits per day, making the site the 10th most visited site (Stubblefield). Since then, hundreds more social media sites have been created, with some of the more popular like Snapchat and Instagram becoming the most downloaded apps.

Unknown to most of the millions of users using Snapchat filters to turn themselves into cute deer’s or to change their voices, the app was originally created for sending nudes. The premise of the app is for users to send pictures to other users with the pictures only being available for at most 10 seconds. The idea being that nude photos could be sent without the risk of the recipient keeping the photo and distributing it, which was and still continues to be a problem, especially in youth. Still, users could “screenshot” the photos, averting the time restrictions of the app. What would happen if a nude photo were posted without the senders consent on social media? Would the victim be entitled to sue based on violation of privacy? Would the distributor be entitled to send the pictures based on freedom of speech that protects so many other social media posts? Because the app is so recent, coming about only within the past 5 years, there are few precedents to help make a valid decision on cases such as the one described. Still, similar cases involving “revenge porn” have occurred.

Revenge porn is the act of posting, sending, or distributing nude or sexually explicit pictures or videos of someone without their consent. Such videos or pictures often include the victims name or address. Although a serious moral violation, it is only criminally consequential in New Jersey and California. Some believe that the First Amendment should deem the act obscene, therefore not protecting it as free speech. Still, such actions are only legally persecuted under cases of child pornography, hackers stealing private files, and “peeping toms” or people who record others without consent. Of those affected, 47 % of victims consider suicide or develop depression. During Valentines Day of 2013, 43% of men and 29% in relationships sent nude pictures of some sort to their significant other (Barmore). This is often the beginning of the problem, as most of these cases occur among scorned ex-lovers. The People VS Barber was once such case.

In 2014, Ian Barber sent naked pictures of his ex girlfriend to her boss, sister, and posted it on Twitter. While Judge Statsinger of New York called Barbers actions “reprehensible”, Barber left the case unscathed. A study in 2013 showed that of those that threaten to expose someone’s private photos like the ones in this case, 60 % do. This just shows how often such actions occur, without any specific laws of repercussion (Barmore). The before mentioned New Jersey revenge porn law came about in 2004 and prosecuted those who recorded sex acts without consent. Because this law was so vague, it was valid enough to include revenge porn unless the participants gave permission. The law in California lame about in 2013 in response to a photographer lying about the privacy of the photos, causing the subjects of his photography distress (Barmore). Laws in other states pertaining to harassment could apply to such situations as well.

In People V Barber, it was determined that he did not participate in illegal distribution and was innocent of harassment, as he did not directly harass his ex girlfriend. The problem with these privacy cases is that it forces the victims to assert their rights, as no one else will do it on their behalf. They also have to spend large amounts of money on legal fees and for the limited amount of privacy specialist lawyers. Still, in many cases where violation of privacy is claimed, judges often deem that there is no harm caused and the victim is soley trying to save their reputation. Although the accused are not always presented with consequences, the First Amendment is not always implemented to protect them either. Another setting where First Amendment freedoms on social media are not present is academia and in the working field.

In Elonis V US, section of 875 (c) of Title 18 of the US Code criminalizes threat. Anthony Elonis posted on Facebook an original rap video with violent lyrics against his wife, co-workers, a kindergarten class and the police force. That amounts to 5 counts of threat violations. Because his lyrics were interpreted as such, his post was a threat and therefore not protected by the First Amendment. He still did not serve a long-term sentence as the judge ordered a mental state analysis (Huffman). A similar case occurred in Bell V Itawamba County School Board. A student posted, like the previous case, and original rap video with violent imagery. The judge deemed that the video caused disruption, but an appellate court decided that the lyrics were not directed at anyone and therefore did not qualify as threat (Barmore).

It is evident among these cases that not all posts are safe for the Internet. Even if there are no legal repercussions, users can still be punished in other ways for posts. In Graziosi V Greenville, police officers were fired after critiquing their superiors on the mayor’s public Facebook page. The judge decided that the posts were not protected because they were posted on a public forum where everyone could see it. It would be the equivalent to physically protesting or yelling in a town square (Barmore). In 2014, Professor Steven Salaita was fired from his tenured job at University of Illinois at Urbana two weeks before he started the semester. He had previously been an English teacher at Virginia Tech since 2006. The reason for his termination was a controversial tweet. “Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re defending #Israel right now you’re an awful human being”. Many interpreted this as support for Hamas, a foreign terrorist group, which has then been fighting with Israeli forces. This less that 240 character message could have resulted in jail time. If he had family, friends, or any ties to the terrorist group he could have not only been supporting the group but also could be considered to be recruiting for the group according to the Material Support Statue. The Humanitarian Law Project protected him against those claims by insisting that they were only words of thought rather than words with intention to recruit or incite support for the terrorist group (Pierce). Thus far, there have been few cases where the First Amendment protects posts of audio or word on social media. What about short films posted on the Internet?

Cindy Lee Garcia was hired to act, as the star in a film she was told was a “historical adventure film” called Innocence of Muslims. What she didn’t know was that this film was purely anti-Islamic propaganda. Garcia was bombarded by death threats for her participation in the film, along with everyone else that took part. She tried as hard as she could to get rid of all of the remaining evidence of the film after it was initially taken down. As the Internet goes, nothing ever disappears fully. Users had downloaded the film and would repost it on various sites, including YouTube, a video sharing site owned by Google. Garcia took one last attempt to eradicate this mistake in her life, hence Garcia V Google. Garcia filed a copyright claim to get all of the replicated videos removed from YouTube and Google search results. The Ninth Circuit ruled on Garcia’s behalf. Copyright is not “categorically immune from challenges under the First Amendment”(Huffman).

Among the most recent First Amendment questions is the question of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) involvement with athlete’s social media profiles. Marvin Austin has 1,800 followers and 2400 posts. Greg Little has 1,400 followers and 1700 posts. Both were football players for UNC Chapel Hill. Both of these athletes had a tendency to post their spending habits. The NCAA cited UNA for not monitoring their athletes’ social media. Loyola University in Chicago banned their athletes from social media resulting in a feud with the American Civil Liberties Union (Stubblefield). John Wall, a prospective athlete, had a fan page of people rooting for his recruitment by a certain university. The NCAA made him take down the page as to not violate guidelines. Both situations brought about the question of how much control schools should have over their athletes. The NCAA said “We don’t see it as a free speech issue. We want to be sure that we limit the level of intrusion that comes into the (athletes) lives”. Banning media restricts all speech, protected and unprotected. This is known as “prior restraint” or censoring speech before it is actually expressed. The intended purpose of the ban is “to protect morals, health, and safety” of the athletes. Still, the schools and the NCAA would not be violating the First Amendment as the students quite literally could have signed away their rights. In the Student Athlete Statement Contract, one of three documents all athletes must sign, schools could include a clause that bans or removes social media. Still, any banning or removing of rights must be stated clearly. If the document is vague, the courts tend to favor the athletes rights (Stubblefield). Signing something is obvious agreement and so is liking something on social media, but does the First Amendment protect the latter?

As of 2013, yes. In Bland V Roberts, 6 employees of a sheriff’s office were fired for liking and opponents post. The “like” was not protected as free speech as it is not actual speech, but clicking a button. Also known as “insufficient speech”. ACLU is back again and assists the employees by arguing that just because it was not audible speech the messages expressive nature is not negated. Social media is a market place of ideas and although it acts as entertainment, actions have meaning. Likes belong to the user not the owner of the page. Users can still unlike if they want. On the other hand, some actions don’t mean nearly as much. For example, “checking in” on Facebook, allows users to proclaim where they are at a moment in time. Rarely does this have a connotation, except when it is taken so. If a person or group of coworkers “checked in” at or near an office for human rights. Naturally, the boss would think the workers were filing complaints (Scher). Still, would what the workers do on off-hours even be the concern of the boss to begin with? Dies social media do more harm than good?

Social media are emerging Titans in the media industry. All other platforms rely on some form of social media for promotion. It interconnects people across the globe of all demographics. The lines are often blurred between justified punishment and violations of First Amendment freedoms. Those who invade others privacy often get away unscathed, but not because of freedom of speech, but rather because of some obscure clause or loophole. Schools and associations prohibit the use of social media or punish those for posts. Every click has a meaning, but sometimes those meanings are misconstrued. Social media has been around for more than a decade and has integrated itself into a vital part of society. Still, the legal system hasn’t quite caught up to today’s standards and is very much so learning from past mistakes. In a few more years, law will hopefully be caught up to the times and know how to adequately deal with related court cases. Very much unlike Snapchat, these issues wont just disappear after 10 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Barmore, Cynthia. “CRIMINALIZATION IN CONTEXT:

INVOLUNTARINESS, OBSCENITY, AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT.” Standard Law Review 67.2 (2015): 1–32. ProQuest Central. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Huffman, Brandon J. “Developments in Social Media: First

Amendment, Privacy, and Misappropriation.” The Business Lawyer 71.1 1–15. ProQuest Central. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Marcum, Tanya M, and Sandra J Perry. “WHEN A PUBLIC

EMPLOYER DOESN’T LIKE WHAT ITS EMPLOYEES ‘LIKE’: SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT.” Labor Law Journal 65.1 (2014): 5–19. ProQuest Central. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Pierce, Abigail M. “#TWEETING FOR TERRORISM: FIRST

AMENDMENT IMPLICATIONS IN USING PROTERRORIST TWEETS TO CONVICT UNDER THE MATERIAL SUPPORT STATUTE.” The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 24.1 (2015): 251–276. ProQuest Central. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Scher, David, and Scott R Oswald. “Notes On: ‘As You “Like” It:

Ascribing Legal Significance to Social Media.’” Labor Law Journal 65.2 (2014): 104–106. ProQuest Central. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Stubblefield, Patrick. “Chalk Talks- Evading the Tweet Bomb:

Utilizing Financial Aid Agreements to Avoid First Amendment Litigation and NCAA Sanctions.” Journal of Law and Education 41.3 (2012): 593–601. ProQuest Central. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.F

Latino Stereotypes in the Media

Latinos are one of the largest minority groups in the United States, making up a large portion of the population. Still, the community is hugely lacking in the media. The few Latin characters provided are often categorized within certain clichés or stereotypes. Researches of all nationalities have tackled this topic from the standpoint of creators and observers. This paper will discuss those main stereotypes and what such portrayal is doing to the media viewers perception of the Latin community and what the repercussions within the Latin community itself are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Hombres and Spicy Senoritas

Telenovelas, or Spanish soap operas, are synonymous with overly dramatic acting, passionate dialogue, and intense storylines. Their characters are diverse in appearance, background, and behavior. In American media, this is not the case. The already small amount of Latino characters seen in mainstream film or television are often portrayed with a certain template in mind. The women must be fiery and promiscuous salsa dancers, or cleaning maids, or both. The men must be violent drug dealing criminals or garden maintenance, or both. Both sexes must be sassy and sexual entities. Although sometimes comical that the characters are predictable, the fact that those attributes are contributing to a nationwide mindset is a much larger issue at second glance.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Such characters have been used since the 1920’s. Social psychologists have categorized those attributes into six distinct male or female character archetypes. There is the bandito, the harlot, the male buffoon, the female clown, the Latin lover, and the dark lady. These can be seen still on both the small and silver screens.

For example, Sofia Vergara character Gloria on Modern Family could be categorized somewhere as a combination of the harlot, female clown, and dark lady. Still, modern Latino characters on television have made huge strides towards breaking that old cycle. During the 1960’s there were three waves of Chicano, or American born Mexicans, that sought to break those stereotypes through the use of costume, language, and even subtleties like posture to portray more than audiences had seen from Latino actors and characters alike (Ascarate, 2003).

Members of the stereotypes group often overlook the idea of a stereotypes character, but rather identify with the character’s experiences. The problem usually presented itself in Western or Sci-fi films. In Westerns, Mexican banditos usually were the antagonists. In Sci-fi, attacking aliens had the underlying tones of immigrants. Viewers would see all aliens like the Terminator and the Replicants alike. In the same manner, people in real life see documented and undocumented characters the same or all Latino actors as Mexican. In 1988, the film Graham Baker Alien Nation blatantly portrayed Latino immigrants as invading aliens (Ascarate, 2003). Some may say, “Its just a movie”, but research shows that films have an impact on real life society.

In the documentary, Window Dressing on the Set: Women and Minorities on Television (1977) commissioned by the US Commission on Civil Rights it was pointed out that portrays of Latinos as welfare workers or truck drivers serve to justify racism in real life and do have varying degrees of realism. The displayed imagery inclines viewers to create such mindsets and are more likely to discriminate Latinos in everyday life (Mayer, 2004). In another documentary, Latinos Beyond Reel by Miguel Ricker and Chyung Sun, characters like banditos and greasers instill phobia of immigrants. Even video games contribute to such stereotypes when they portray immigrants as villains in children’s games. In one game the objective is to shoot immigrants as they cross the border and in another you must track down Mexican drug dealers and kill them. It is no wonder that when children ages 6 to 11 are asked who their favorite Latino heroes are, they cannot think of one (Fojas, 2014).

Superhero films have become the largest grossing genre of film in the last couple of decades. In the past few years, only four Latinos have been leads in these films. Zoe Saldana, a Dominican actress, plays Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. Gamora is a feared assassin throughout the galaxy and teams up with four other criminals she met in jail to fight crime in space. Oscar Isaac, a Guatemalan actor, plays Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. “The movie is named after him! That’s got to be progress” some might say. Apocalypse is an ancient mutant who creates a gang to take over the world and is ultimately killed by the good mutants. Jay Hernandez, a Mexican-American, actor plays El Diablo (Spanish for “the devil”) in Suicide Squad. Suicide Squad is a film by DC Comics about criminals who are forced to form a team to do the bidding of the government. He is the perfect embodiment of a Mexican gangbanging stereotype. He has tattoos covering his body, wears a wife beater, hides guns and drugs in his house, and fights with his wife. He does show an interesting development, as he is the only character on another rag tag team of villains to learn from his past sins and refuses to hurt anyone else again, after he kills his family and a courtyard of criminals. He ultimately turns into a Mayan like shaman figure and sacrifices himself. Becky G, a Mexican American singer and actress, recently broke ground as the first openly gay superhero when she portrayed Trini in the 2017 reboot of Power Rangers. Aside from the characters full name, “Trinidad”(Spanish for Trinity) and the actress’s background, there is no outright proclamation of her race. Although she was a powerful and formidable warrior, she was still portrayed as the outcast of the team. Such films beg the question: Are these actors helping or hindering the progress?

In the 50’s, Latinos comprised 3% of all television characters. By the 80’s, that number had dropped to 1% and in the 90’s had risen to 1.1%. In 1999, there was a so-called “brownout” where there were little to no ethnic characters created. Still, these small percentages of characters were all secondary or non –recurring (Mastro, 2005). In 1922, psychologist Dr. Lippmann described stereotypes as cognitive categorization of alternative representation. Another psychologist Charles Ramirez Berg concluded that facially neutral Latino actors were more likely to be cast (Mayer, 2004). This was studied with 8 decades worth of Latino actors and actresses, both US and foreign born with ambiguous and indigenous features (Valdez, 2011). In other words, actors with less prominent Latino tells like brown skin or heavy accents are preferred by casting directors. For example, Jessica Alba is a Mexican American actress and is often cast in Caucasian roles and Rosario Dawson, a Puerto Rican actress, is often cast in black roles. Because they are not traditionally Latina looking, they are given the opportunities of other ethnicities.

Mary Beltran’s Latino/a Stars in US Eyes: The Making and Meanings of Film and TV Stardom she differentiated the increased participation by ethnic actors with the real progress of equality in the industry. Entertainment is scared to defy stereotypes. The actors aren’t always contributing just by being present in the shows or films; sometimes they even contribute to devaluing the image of the Latin community (Valdez 2011). Rita Moreno is one of the most distinguished actors ever. She is one of the only performers to win an Emmy, Oscar, Tony, and Grammy in history. She was born in Puerto Rico. She is most known for her role as Anita in West Side Story. She played Latina in that role and has since played many more Latina roles. Some argue that because she is such a staple in the Latin acting community and plays white roles, she is giving more opportunity to only white Latinos, therefore burdening the culture (Valdez, 2011). In other words the goal isn’t the equality in the industry but the “re orientation of a mindset that has contributed to the cultural, psychological, and political subjugation of millions of people…Movie stereotyping of Latinos has been and continues to be part of an American imperialistic discourse about who should rule the hemisphere”(Ascarate, 2003).

Many Latin comedians actually benefit from the Latin stereotypes. American born Mexican stand up comics like Anjelah Johnson and Gabriel Iglesias like to cash in on the idealistic Mexican family structure and accents. Others have struck gold with these comedy methods and gotten their own sitcoms. George Lopez starred in George Lopez for 5 years from 2002-2007, defying the stereotype by not only having his own self-titled show but by also playing a family man who rose to the top of the airplane part manufacturer. His character wanted more for his kids that he had as a child, portraying a more honest version of Latinos in America. Cristela Alonzo also had her own self-titled sitcom that lasted for one season called Cristela. She plays a prospective law intern with a boss that constantly bombards her with racist comments, yet she rises above it. Her mom tells her to get a more stable job rather than spend all her time at the internship, but she eventually chooses the internship knowing it will benefit her and her family in the long run. The sitcoms provide a perspective to a modern day Latin family (Fojas, 2014). Comedians are just one outlet of the industry that are taking on stereotypes, actors and directors are also working together.

Robert Rodriguez is a Mexican American director. He directed El Mariachi and often films in Mexico or his home state of Texas. He is a proponent of increased Latino representation in Hollywood. He likes to make more complex characters for viewers to relate to (Ascarate, 2003). According to the social cognitive theory, people see models of behavior and they relate to it and mimic it. Contrasting, the cultivation theory states that people make beliefs based on race from the media. Similarly, mainstreaming is the idea that TV creates ideas. Because of those two theories, people create prejudices. Young Latinos see little to no characters to resonate with which makes them believe they are unimportant (Katzew, 2011). That is, until they see characters they can resonate with.

In 2006, ABC aired the primetime dramedy Ugly Betty. The show starred America Ferrera, a Honduran actress, as a 22-year-old Mexican American from Queens, New York named Betty Suarez. She feels lost in the world until she lands a job at a prestigious fashion magazine. Although her job was glamorous, Betty was not so fortunate. Her braces become iconic in pop culture. She was oddly dressed and was the ultimate geek. The show was based on a Columbian soap opera Yo Soy Betty, La fea (“I am Betty, the ugly girl”) with elements of a Mexican soap opera La fea mas bella (“The most beautiful ugly girl”). The whole idea was don’t judge a book by its cover. Betty was beautiful on the inside regardless of her exterior. The show was critically acclaimed with a whopping 16.3 million viewers during its premier and its ultimate accomplishment of two Golden Globes.

The show was one of the first to not only portray a thriving Latin family, but also a positive family at all. The show spoofed those Latino stereotypes like the dark lady, evening enlisting the help of Mexican beauty, Salma Hayek. She played Sofia Reyes the sexy nurse on a telenovela played throughout the first season. Not only did the show challenge race ideals, but also gender and beauty. Justin Suarez was Betty’s teenage nephew on the show. He was one of the first openly gay characters on primetime television, never mind the fact that he was a Latino. Regardless, his family accepted him. While Latinas are often thought of as beautiful by American standards, the character Betty was called out for not matching the US ideals of beauty (Katsew, 2011). Isn’t that the point?

A study was conducted in which groups watched shows on five networks from 7 to 10 PM on Sundays and 8 to 11 on Mondays through Saturdays for two weeks. Sixty-seven programs were studied with a total of 1148 major characters. 80.4% of these characters were white, 13.8% were black, 3.9% Latin, 1.5% Asian, and 0.4% Native American. For all of these percentages the majority of characters were men except for Asian where men and women were in equal quantity. Black characters were mostly in crime shows and Latinos were often in sitcoms. The Latino characters were usually good looking with accents (Mastro, 2005).

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? The only problem is that stereotypes are not always this good. The races aren’t given a choice of which stereotype they are going to be given in the media. Will black characters be talented athletes or crack heads? Will Asian characters be antisocial and awkward or math geniuses? Will white characters be hillbilly rednecks or higher class aristocrats? Will Latino characters be sexy and smooth or beer bellied and drug dealers? Jane the Virgin on the CW is the newest incarnation of Latino actors fighting back against stereotypes. The show stars Gina Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican actress, who openly advocates for the progression of Latinos in her industry. Not only does she star in the show, but also she writes and has sometimes directed. Her character is a young Catholic single mom in an interracial relationship with aspirations of being a famous novelist. Although her child is her life, she knows that having a career that she loves is important. Her pregnancy in the show was somewhat of a miracle, but will the eradication of stereotypes also be a miracle? Keeping a close eye on Hollywood will be the only way to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Ascarate, R. J. (2003). Latino Images in Film: Stereotypes, Subversion, and Resistance.

Film Quarterly; Berkeley, 57(2), 57–58. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.acaweb.org/docview/212325280/abstract/23259BEF8B97405FPQ/1?accountid=9715

 

Fojas, C. (2014). Latinos beyond reel: Challenging a media stereotype by Miguel Picker

and Chyng Sun (dirs.). Latino Studies; Basingstoke, 12(1), 143–144. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.acaweb.org/docview/1513283446/abstract/79E92923A5F445B9PQ/1?accountid=9715

 

Katzew, A. (2011). Shut up! Representations of the Latino/a body in Ugly Betty and their

educational implications. Latino Studies; Basingstoke, 9(2-3), 300–320. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.acaweb.org/docview/887747545?pq-origsite=summon

 

Mastro, D. E., & Behm-Morawitz, E. (2005). LATINO REPRESENTATION ON

PRIMETIME TELEVISION. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly; Columbia, 82(1), 110–130. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.acaweb.org/docview/216939382/abstract/7F7D78A4E8164419PQ/1?accountid=9715

 

Mayer, V. (2004). Fractured Categories; New Writings on Latinos and Stereotypes – A

Review Essay. Latino Studies; Basingstoke, 2(3), 445–452. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.acaweb.org/docview/222594243/abstract/79A89B00AD444BA9PQ/1?accountid=9715

 

Valdez, I. (2011). Latina/o stars in US eyes: The making and meanings of film and TV

stardom. Latino Studies; Basingstoke, 9(2-3), 346–348. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.library.acaweb.org/docview/887747581/abstract/7B4B0DDA09264FE0PQ/1?accountid=9715

 

Interview w/ Lucero Sifuentes

Lucero Sifuentes, a 22 year old reporter has been building quite a resume since choosing a journalism career path. She received a Bachelor’s degree in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNC Chapel Hill. She is from Hendersonville, North Carolina but had dreams of changing the world. She always loved writing and even called it “therapeutic”. She took AP English courses at East Henderson High School. She explained how she always preferred written examinations to factual exams. When she applied to UNC Chapel Hill she did not have a particular major in mind. By sophomore year, she had taken sports medicine and psychology related courses. Her roommates were impressed by her powerful ability to communicate through written and spoken word. From then on she shifted her focus to a future in Journalism. She said, “I thank my roommates for encouraging me to pursue this career.” (Sifuentes)

Lucero had to take many specialized writing courses at school. She recalls that some of her favorites included             feature writing, magazine writing, and data journalism. Some of those classes took more dedication than others. She explained that the class news editing was “fail worthy” and “one mistake meant failure, just like in the real world” (Sifuentes). Of course, basic courses are required such as computer programming. Not all basic classes were uninteresting though, as Lucero pointed out her eating disorder class was very enlightening. All of those writing courses were necessary though as nearly the entire job consists of writing articles. The informative writing in AP Style of a Journalist is a major ability that must be acquired.

The journalism curriculum doesn’t include many history courses, but rather teaches the fundamental skills required to be a professional. Still, the students learned a few of the instrumental characters in the progression of the field. Lucero described Ida Wells, a female journalist, and muckrakers who “kept the politicians in check” (Sifuentes). There are no concrete books that serve as landmark texts for student. Rather, professors use prominent news sources such as New York Times and The Guardian as examples of powerful journalism. Journalists learn from each other. For example, Lucero especially admires the advocacy (to help others) journalism of Mexican reporter Jorge Ramos and the anchoring of Elizabeth Vargas.

Whilst still in University, Lucero knew that internships and experience are the best way to climb the ladder in the field. She began by interning at the TV station Univision Warner Cable in Raleigh where she learned valuable skills in TV broadcasting. She also has some experience in sports journalism. She worked for the best sports reporting program in the area, Sports Xtra, and was one of eight who launched a travel sports magazine in Chapel Hill, called “Going the Distance”. After studying abroad in Madrid, Lucero became more involved in international journalism and interned at a bilingual news agency. She used her acquired journalist minded writing at all of these experiences regardless of which side of the camera she was on.

Throughout her career, she has interviewed and met a wide range of interesting people from Emmy nominees to international athletes. That is one of the perks as she explained, “The job is never the same” (Sifuentes) and she gets to meet new people. In addition, journalists are constantly learning through communication. The job isn’t all glamour though, at times interviewees are difficult to reach or difficult to deal with. In addition, a sustainable pay isn’t guaranteed and some journalists have even begun homeless. More experienced journalists can earn up to $60,000 a year and celebrity status journalists, such as Elizabeth Vargas, can earn up to $1 million.

A license isn’t needed, but experience is. There are countless internship and scholarship opportunities worldwide. Lucero has developed a particular interest in advocacy journalism, like her role model Jorge Ramos, and investigative journalism. In advocacy journalism, she embraces a more persuasive approach in order to influence readers. In investigative journalism, she must get the facts of a story and covey them in a comprehendible manner to the reader. Simply put, the job is difficult. But in Lucero’s opinion, the effort is worth it. She said, “Journalism’s purpose is to help the community and spread the truth…we tell stories” (Sifuentes). Lucero has made herself known in the field and will continue to climb the ladder of success to make a change, which is the ultimate goal of journalists.