Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Devious Maids, East Los High... More of The Same?



Whenever I hear of a new TV show, or a film with an all-Latino cast, I HAVE to watch it. I think is clear that is very important for our community to support those who are making it big, those who are putting the name of Latinos out there, and changing the stereotypes that the film, and the entertainment industries are constantly using. 

So, what happens when the Latinos we are praising, all of a sudden decide to draw upon those same stereotypes that we so much despise? We turn to Social Media, our blogs, and we share our thoughts about it! 


My discontent with "Devious Maids" is mainly because I think that we Latinas have played enough roles as maids in films, and TV shows. It feels like the message that the entertainment industry keeps sending to our youth is, "This is your place in our society. Don't think about other careers, or other choices." No, this is not what I want my granddaughter to grow up believing. 


Then, we have streaming on Hulu the show "East Los High." A show that seemed promising. Especially after reading that the director/producer of the show Carlos Portugal told the writers, “The cast of “East Los High” will have no gardeners, no gang members, and no maids.” I truly believed that he would do something different, but no. This show is more of the same; gang members, teenage girls, and boys being disrespectful, and the low income families who live in some of the poorest neighborhoods.

When are things going to change? And it's not like there are not good writers out there, because there are. The main issue is that some of the big executives don't believe that Latinos are ready for a change. We want that change. So, in order to get better quality entertainment on our screens, we will have to show, somehow, that we are not okay with the way the industry is portraying us. Or... we could also produce/direct our own shows. What do you think?



14 comments:

  1. May I suggest... www.losamericans.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I absolutely agree, and it's a complete shame that those types of roles are what Latinos are constantly being portrayed as. We are not a people comprised of maids and gang-bangers. There are far more other roles suitable in Hollywood that can be both entertaining and educating. Hollywood get it together.

    Great Article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Cariela for taking the time to read it.

      Delete
  3. East Los High has become my guilty pleasure... like most novelas. They do feature a father that owns a Taqueria, son that works there, Aunt that is a successful designer of some sort, Doctors/Nurses all roles portrayed by latinos. The kids are rather sexified, but I suppose true to other mainstream shows? I have not made it through the whole season, but here's holding out hope for progression! Have not seen Devious Maids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will too keep an eye on it because I really want it to succeed, but I also would love for it to become a more positive influence on our youth.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! I really appreciate it.

      Delete
  4. I agree. It is so funny how in Mexico, people watch stories of the insanely rich to forget their poverty, and all we see here is stifling stereotypes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. My thoughts exactly. Thank you for reading it! XO

      Delete
  5. You have to watch it to see that it does have a positive influence on our youth. All through the episodes they are paying for their mistakes. It's teaching the youth to think twice before having sex and if you do, you damn better have protection and not just from pregnancy. Boys will use you and tell you things you just want to hear to get you into bed, and then when you do, don't expect them to call you or take responsibility. So don't trust every boy that says "I Love You", to be true.

    Also, it has life changes like "illness" (cancer_. If you don't go to the doctor immediately and choose to ignore your symptoms, they can't help you and it may be too late! One lesson after another this show portrays. Also, at the end of all 24 episodes, they interview the characters and they tell what they're doing now. Going to college to be a nurse, etc. etc. Two young youth turn a struggling restaurant owners business around, so he doesn't have to sell it. One of those youth happens to be his son.

    It's not all about Gangbangers, as some people that haven't even seen it try to say. It's funny, before it came out, there was a critic that complained that their wasn't going to be Gangbangers in it, so it wasn't going to be "real" enough. lol So, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    I guess you have to watch it for yourself. Everyone has their own opinion, but so far it's the #1 show on HuluLatino and #5 on Hulu of "all shows" watched.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have watched it, and indeed you are right; we all have different opinions about how we would like to be portrayed on film/TV shows.

      I believe that many messages that I want to send about my community should be sent on a more positive manner. I have talked to many TV producers who keep saying that what our "people" like to see is the usual drama, and that that's what they need to give us in order to make money. I happen to disagree, but that's just my opinion. I want this show to succeed, just like any other Latino projects should too, I just don't like it when the entertainment industry takes advantage of what they think we are.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read the post, and writing your ideas!

      Delete
  6. I liked your post but I have to agree with the poster above as far as your needing to watch East Los High in its entirety--overall, the show turned out to be pretty good as far as Latino representation, in my opinion. I do agree that the first few episodes had a subplot involving a drug dealer and gangster but it was just that: a subplot. I guess my bone of contention really is with this general demand for "positive" Latino representation, which often means an educated, middle-class representation. I do think there is very little representation as far as this segment of the Latino community but does this mean that we should omit other segments in and issues from our communities? In other words, some Latino groups do have a high incidence of teen pregnancy and experience other harsh realities: why shouldn't their stories get told? And what about just humble, working class people? Why are they not worthy of representation?

    I believe that the calls for "positive" Latino representation are rooted in an unconscious desire to distance oneself from anything that smacks of the working class (whether we are speaking of the lumpenproletariat--the "criminal" element--or just regular working class folks.) I don't wish to ridicule this desire because it is a result from experiencing centuries de-humanization. Now with more of us gaining access to education and becoming middle-class (economically and with the social protocols these involve), I understand why we would want to engender and sustain a new image that is all shiny and "respectable." But the problem with this radiantly new Latino totem is that it re-positions a marginal community (the working class of any color), once again, away from the center, and perhaps even further away on a more distant margin. And, quite frankly, if Latino representation undergo what I like to call a "Cosby-fication" process, this will not end oppression in any material sense. Just look at the number of incarcerated Latino and Black brothers and sisters today. Yeah, The Cosby show really changed things around here, didn't it?

    It would be to our great disadvantage to only demand for bourgoisie representation because in the end, it would only make those of us with the "right" education and manners acceptable, while the vast majority would simply remain invincible, objects of disdain, not worthy of being seen. Quite honestly, I prefer to sign up for the revolution than to get behind a new show with an all Latino cast if it's just going to be a "brown" version of a doctor or lawyer show. Nombre, que aburrido!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hola Aztecson23,

      Thank you for taking the time to read, and comment in this post.

      Just to clarify my ideas a little, I am not asking for just a "bourgeoisie" representation of our community at all. I am an immigrant from Mexico, and when my kids became teenagers, they fell into the stereotypes of what the entertainment industry wants people in the U.S. to believe we are. I stopped watching telenovelas from Televisa when I was 18 years old because I was tired of the same silly, ridiculous stories. And here in the U.S., it's usually the Latinos the ones that have to be portrayed as the bad ones, the poor ones, the maids, etc. Granted, many times we are the poor ones, but with a great heart. But again, does that mean that a Latino, with a little higher socioeconomic position, cannot have a good heart too?

      If we really want to see diversity, then let's do it in all areas of our lives, don't you think?

      Delete
    2. "If we really want to see diversity, then let's do it in all areas of our lives, don't you think?"

      Sure, if all segments of our community are being represented. My point is that if we have been stereotypically portrayed as "the bad ones, the poor ones, the maids, etc." then part of the problem is that those who are working class (always the majority in any ethnic community and in terms of the world's population) HAVE NOT been represented as complex human beings. If there has been no humanistic portrayal, then it seems misguided to propose a "better" representation that really means that the working class should not be represented at all--the real proposal is that they should be replaced by educated, bourgouisie Latino figures. Portrayals that incorporate the tensions between 1st and subsequent generation Latinos, as well as the problems and benefits of achieving professional success, language issues, criminality and reform, working and middle class tensions, etc, I guess this is what I think is ideal. As someone who is the son of two immigrants from Mexico and who has family members who are undocumented (as well as relatives who've had trouble with the law), I feel strongly that obscuring their stories to make way for Latino middle class depictions is unethical because representations that pretend to portray their stories, as well as actual policies in the real world, serve to further make them invisible. Or if they are "recognized," it is as abject figures, disdainful, unworthy of humane and ethical treatment.

      I understand why we would want unblemished representations: the pain and inferiority that attaches to the psyche because of racism. Lo entiendo - representation can help us combat negative portrayals, especially when considering that our children may internalize some of these tarnished images. And I can see how up to a certain point changing the representation might help people be less racist. But I don't fool myself into thinking that representation alone will change serious economic and educational disparities in our communities--they may not even mark a dent on them (as I try to suggest with my reference to Cosby above.)

      I guess, now that I think of it, if we view the representation of educated, professional Latinos as purely strategic (meaning, if we don't necessarily buy into the idea that BEING a professional makes you into a better person), then I can be all for it. But we would have to be highly aware that it is simply a tool, not a reality, meaning that I personally don't think that becoming educated and middle class objectively raises your value as a person - that's just an illusion enabled by the criteria established by class-based hierarchies. In fact, I know a lot of middle class people who are a)not that smart (but they do know how to use the right language and movidas because they have the "right" education); b) not that nice - they don't care about anything beyond their own immediate concerns; c) would look down on my parents (and I don't just mean the white bourgoisie - I'm including Latino and other ethnic minorities), and d)are kind of boring - "I want a house, car, travel once a year, make that promotion," blahblahblah. Nothing wrong with this desire to improve their lives by continuously attempting to make their conditions the most favorable, but it is predictable and always couched in these consumerist, acquisitive rhetoric that I honestly find very...trite and, like I said, predictable to the point of being cliched. (And I know that most of the points I make about middle class people can also be made of working class folks - there's a lot of not nice people in the working class. But they also don't have the toys and prestige of the middle class, so...)

      Delete
    3. One more thing: I think the problem is not so much that Latinos are depicted as maids or as criminals but that a) they have no humanity and therefore exist to serve people or be a scary figure the audience must be afraid of. It seems to me that showing these kinds of figures as desiring human beings with a humanistic interior is the solution. And, more to your point, b) that these are the only kinds of depictions we have is a problem. So, I think we can at least agree on that having humanistic portrayals of working class people plus more depictions of educated Latinos without privileging one over the other might be a working solution.

      Delete