27
Jan
09

An Unexpected Backlash

Let me thank Profe for commenting on my previous article (“Donde Esta Mi Oscar?”). Thanks also to everyone who responded to it on the Huffington Post… well, maybe not everyone.

You see, despite the dozens of posts I have written, I still have a hard time gauging which articles will get the most response or what the reaction will be. So I was surprised when the previous post, about the lack of Latinos with Oscar nominations, went beyond simple pop-culture observation.

In short, my point about Hispanic representation in Hollywood was more or less ignored in favor of an ax-grinding issue: Namely, who is or is not Latino?

Several commentators insisted that Oscar winner Javier Bardem and Oscar nominee Penelope Cruz are Hispanic, despite the fact that both were born and raised in Spain. Of course, I don’t agree, and I offered my definition of Hispanic (ie, people who are from, or have their roots in, countries south of the Texas border and/or the islands in that general vicinity).

Now, one can make a valid argument that Cruz and Bardem are Hispanic. It’s not crazy or stupid to think so. Maybe we can agree to disagree?

Well, maybe we can’t. I received several snappish comments about my opinion and was informed that my viewpoint is as “preposterous as it is plainly wrong.” People demanded to know where I got my definition or stated that I had no idea what I was talking about.

I also discovered that when it comes to pinpointing Latino countries of origin, “Spanish-speaking is the key word and qualifier.” This means, I suppose, that Spaniards are Latinos but Brazilians are not (they speak Portuguese). In addition, one person replied, “I guess I’m not Latino cause I’m North American,” a sarcastic aside that I can’t even pretend to decipher.

When I wasn’t being assailed for my insensitivity to Spaniards, I was being called out for my own hypersensitivity.

There was a calm, reasoned request that I “get a life” and the demand that I “quit crying.” Other outbursts of maturity included “Oh boo hoo” and “JFC!!!” One reader said that I had indulged in a “stupid and pointless exercise,” but I didn’t have the heart to point out that she/he had stooped to my moronic level by taking time to read the post and issue a furious reply to it.

Other readers insisted that I was calling for a quota system, and one threatened that “some day, people will learn awards ceremonies are not places where equal representation is (or should) be considered.” That sounds ominous to me, sir.

Naturally, I find it interesting that the simple act of pointing out racial or ethnic discrepancies elicits charges of whining or accusations that people are gunning for quotas. Such attacks are designed to get people to shut up and not point out uncomfortable facts. I have serious doubts that it ever works.

In any case, all this had very little to do with my original point, which is that it would be nice to see more Latinos on film. As a truce to my many critics, let me say that regardless of whether you think Pedro Almodovar has made a Latino movie or a European one, go out and see it. And while you’re at it, check out an Alfonso Cuaron or a Robert Rodriguez flick. There’s a lot of Latino talent out there, however you define it.

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