Abe Diaz, Antonio Mendes, Argo, Claudio Miranda, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Inocente, Latinas, Latinos and the Oscars, Lupe Ontiveros, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, Sixto Rodriguez, Sugar Man

Latinos and the 2013 Oscars: Mixed Feelings

from Inocente’s FB: Daniel Day Lewis, Inocente, Filmmakers
Last night an article, “2013 Oscars see big loss for Latino filmmakers” by NBC Latino, said “Hispanic audiences had big hopes…, but it was an evening of mixed emotions with just one win for a Latino nominee (Claudio Miranda for “Life of Pi”) and three wins for films with Latino main characters (“Inocente,” “Sugar Man” and  ”Argo”).” 

The ‘mixed emotions,’ weren’t from the amount of Oscar wins, it was from the mixed feelings of anger and disappointment which put a damper on the positive contributions of Latinos actors, directors, designers, and stories. 

The anger came from comments such as these: 

Seth McFarlane’s equal opportunity lame joke when he introduced Salma Hayek, 

 “We’ve reached the point where Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz takes the stage and we have no idea what they’re saying, but we don’t care because they’re so attractive.” 

This isn’t the first, or last, swipe that a television host will take at Latino accents. 

We heard it from Ricky Gervais when he recently hosted the Golden Globes and said he “…couldn’t f*** understand what (Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek) are saying.” We hear from Ellen DeGeneres on the TV commercial with Sofia Vergara, “…well no one can understand you.” (I’ll never buy those products).

The disappointment was from the omission of Lupe Ontiveros from the “In Memoriam” gallery.

Felix Sanchez, chairman and co-founder of National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, told Fox News Latino,

“U.S. Latino actors remain mostly on the lower rungs of official Hollywood,” Sanchez said. “The catch-22 comes from the disparity of the work: Latino actors of Lupe’s generation played mostly low socioeconomic roles, and despite this truth, Lupe’s filmology is substantial and many of her acting film credits are from films honored by their inclusion in the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Film Registry.”

Throughout her career, Ontiveros had been an advocate for breaking Latino stereotypes in Hollywood. In 2009, Ontiveros told CNN she was upset that she was continually being cast as a housekeeper, one she played over 300 times in her 35 year career.

“It’s upsetting to any culture when that is the only projection you have of that culture,” Ontiveros said. “You’re pigeonholed, stereotyped…when I go in speaking perfect English, I don’t get the part…”

You can be talented, win Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, whatever and the Latino actor accents become the butt of racist jokes or their contributions get left out, in front of several million viewers.There is still so much farther to go in getting the respect Latino’s in the film industry should receive.

Now for the other part of the mixed feelings, the positive ones: 
  • Searching for Sugar Man,” a movie about the life of singer and songwriter Sixto Rodríguez, a Latino from Detroit who became a prominent figure in South Africa during the early 70s, took home the Oscar for best documentary. He was called “one of the greatest singers ever” by the film’s Swedish director, Malik Bendjelloul, who accepted the Oscar.
  • Inocente” earned an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. The film tells the story of a 15-year-old female artist – the young artist I blogged about – who takes on homelessness and immigration laws in San Diego, California.
  • Argo,” for telling the story of Antonio Mendes, the CIA operative who lived the real story and wrote the book “Argo.”
  • Claudio Miranda, cinematographer of “Life of Pi.” He was nominated for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” in 2009 also.
  • Paco Delgado, designer for his period costumes of “Les Miserables.”
    from Huffington Post
  • For the several Latino/a actors, directors who made well received movies in 2012 and all of those nominated for awards.
  • For Salma Hayek, in her incredible dress and gracefulness on the red carpet, looking every bit of a movie star, not only a “Latina star.” 
There are many more good feelings to remember about Latinos and the Oscars, especially when we look to the future, which includes:
  • Abe Diaz, the 18 year old student from DePaul University, the winner of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “The Oscar Experience College Search” contest for aspiring filmmakers.
Now if we could only get television hosts who knew how to crack a good joke without disparaging so many people. I’m not holding my breath on that one. 
Family, Health, Latinas, Latinas and sexuality, Latino culture, Menstruation, sexual health

Latinas and Sexuality: 70’s style


In a previous post on  cervical cancer awareness I touched on the topic of Latinas and sexuality. 

My experience is that it is often a taboo subject, one that is not discussed between Latina mothers and daughters.

In the late 60’s, early 70’s, the topics of  sexuality or sexual health for twelve year olds usually came in the form of “The Non-Talk.” 

“The Talk” can range from the first talk (menstruation) to sexual intercourse to the last talk (pregnancy). 

In my case, and  for those Latinas of my generation, “The Non-Talk” was usually along these lines:

“The Kotex are in that purple box…Keep your legs closed…Don’t come home pregnant…Wait til your married, only putas have sex before that…” 

or no conversation at all. 

This was the case in my pre-teen and teen age years. My mother didn’t discuss menstruation,  instead my friends had “The Talk” with me on the playground of my Catholic grammar school when I was in seventh grade. I was the oddball who hadn’t started my period  and I was  12 1/2 years old. “Oh my god, it’s kinda of gross, but kind of cool too, ‘cuz you become a woman,” was the gist of the conversation.

When I asked my friends who told them about their periods, all of them said their older sisters. Well, I was on my own. I was the oldest in my family and my school didn’t have sex education classes.

This ‘period’ thing sounded intriguing and yukky at the same time but I had to find out what I was in for so I steeled myself and right before bedtime I asked my mother (in a whisper because my younger sister shared the bed) what ‘periods’ were and when would I get mine. She screwed up her face, shot me a disapproving look and turned off my light. 

from mommymandy.com

One morning, about three days later, I woke up and found a pamphlet under my pillow. Yes, it was the Menstruation Fairy. The booklet described, in cartoon fashion, the wonder of menstruation. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the drawing of the female reproductive system, it looked like a fancy Y to me. 

That evening my mom whispered. “The box you’ll need is in the bathroom closet, in the back, the purple box.” Figuring out how to use these oversized overstuffed pads is another story. Can I get a witness? 

As I thought of this subject I speculated that perhaps my opinion was based on my age and generation. 

Maybe the topic isn’t as taboo as it was in the 70’s. 

Maybe parents having discussions with their sons and daughters about sexuality and sexual health improved in the last 40 years. 

Alas, this is not the case even after thirty plus years of sex education in schools:

  • A 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey indicates that more than 47 percent of all high school students say they have had sex. Among students who had sex in the three months prior to the survey, 60 percent reported condom use and 23 percent reported birth control pill use during their last sexual encounter.
And for Latinas specifically:
  • While teen pregnancy rates have dropped across all ethnic groups over the past decade, the decline has been smallest among Latinas
  • The percentage of female teens using any method of contraception at first sexual intercourse was lowest for Latinas (57 percent), compared to non-Hispanic whites (81 percent), Asian Americans and Native Americans (77 percent each), or African Americans (68 percent)
  • Among teens, Latinas had the highest birth rate in 2000 (94 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19). By comparison, the teen birth rate among African Americans was 79 per 1,000; among Native Americans, 68; among non-Hispanic whites, 33; and among Asian Americans, 22 (all studies cited in advocatesforyouth.org)

Religion, cultural norms, access to medical services,  language barriers, and the degree of acculturation (first generation versus third generation) can impact the outcomes.

Studies show that family and culture are very important in the lives of Latina teens. Parents and other family members can be significant in providing positive guidance and emotional support. 

I venture to say that providing an atmosphere of trust, age appropriate information and positive guidance will enhance any young girls development. 

It isn’t easy having a conversation about sex and sexual health, but it is imperative. I scripted out how I was going to discuss menstruation with my daughter when she was nine. I’m so glad I did because she began menstruating a few months later and she was able to tell me and her dad when it happened. (He went out and bought her flowers). 

Having conversations about sexuality, in a series of ongoing discussions, made it so much easier throughout the years with both my daughter and two sons. 

Who had “The Talk” with you? Did you have “The Talk” with your kids? Will you?