Tag: movies

The Urge to Merge

I know what you’re thinking.

“Hey, Hispanic Fanatic, wouldn’t this country be better off if huge corporations called more of the shots?”

Yes, I’m nothing if not a shill for the benefits of global conglomerates having even more control over our society. I mean, when has big business ever screwed us over?

Puppet master

 

 

While you ponder that most rhetorical of questions, I will draw your attention to a recent study that looked at media company mergers.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race analyzed media company mergers after 2008, but they focused on the Comcast-NBCUniversal deal because it was the largest and well documented.

Now, remember that one of the many arguments that media groups make when merging is that their new tentacled beast of an organization will increase racial and ethnic diversity. These new companies will also make the internet free, cure cancer, and teach your dog to speak, but I digress.

So how did the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger do?

Well, the researchers found that “despite a pledge to increase Latino representation in programming, there was no significant increase in diversity behind the camera.”

The percentage of Latino directors went up a meager 0.8% after the merger. But the percentage of Hispanic producers, executive producers, and writers all actually decreased.

Yikes — that ain’t so good.

To be fair, the study also found that the percentage of Hispanic actors onscreen increased from 6.6% before the merger to 7.3% afterward. That’s good news, right? Well, even that mild improvement comes with a caveat, as deeper analysis shows that this increase “was accompanied by a significant rise in Latino stereotypes on NBCUniversal. Latinos who appeared as maids, janitors, [and] inmates” nearly tripled from 2008 to 2014.

Basically, more shows were hiring more Hispanics to appear as servants and thugs.

Yay for progress!

By the way, before the merger, Comcast and NBCUniversal had no Latino executives. But today, 4 out of 130 senior executives are Latino, accounting for 3.1% of upper management. However, only one (yes, one Latino executive in the whole company) holds a position outside of Telemundo.

Now, one can look at this study and link it to the current uproar that Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans are a combined 0-for-40 when it comes to recent Oscar nominations for acting.

When we do that, we must come to the conclusion that, as the researchers so diplomatically put it, “The agreements and promises made before the merger [aren’t] really panning out.”

But I’m sure things will be different when the next big media merger happens. Next time, all their promises will magically come true.

Yup.

 

 


Such a Princess

I hesitate to mention this, but I know way too much about Sofia the First.

You see, we have a two-year-old boy, and while we limit his TV time, he still catches the occasional Doc McStuffins or Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And Sofia is on right after Jake, so we’ve caught bits and pieces of the show (just enough to drive me mildly insane).

Now, it turns out that Sofia is going to be the launching pad for Disney’s first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor, who is inspired by “diverse Latin cultures and folklore,” according to the good people at Disney. She will receive her own TV show next year.

elena

Of course, the issue of diversity is a touchy one in Hollywood. Just ask Sean Penn about Hispanic representation in the film world… well, on second thought, don’t ask him anything.

In any case, Elena’s arrival shows that Hollywood is sensitive to its reputation as indifferent to ethnic minorities, and that the entertainment industry is trying to improve the representation of Hispanics in pop culture.

But everybody’s a critic. And those critics are saying it’s too little, too late.

First, there is the issue that Elena is going to originate as a sidekick, and worse, there are no plans for her to have her own movie, despite the fact that many Disney princesses of various ethnicities and races have received their own feature films. Hey, Mulan got a pair of movies over a decade ago, and Asians are even less represented in film than Hispanics. So, yeah — what gives?

The second irritation is that Elena’s exact nationality is being kept vague. By not being specific about her homeland, critics argue, Disney is failing to explore the diversity within Hispanic culture, and instead using one brown-eyed princess as an interchangeable stand-in for all Latinas.

This is where I can be of assistance. I can tell you that saying Elena is from Cuba or Bolivia or Puerto Rico would be more bizarre than anything. That’s because the setting for Sofia is a magical dreamland where unicorns run wild, and little kids take classes on how to cast spells, and cutesy-pie dragons burst into song for no reason. Yeah, it’s that annoying.

But while most of the characters speak in a whiny faux British accent, it’s not specifically European. It’s otherworldly. So if this princess from, say, Mexico, just shows up, the effect will be a little jarring.

I told you I knew too much about this damn show.

Regardless, Elena is a step in the right direction. And even if I hated the idea of a Latina princess, it wouldn’t matter, because I’m going to see her, one way or another.

Yes, at this point, I’m just looking forward to the day when my son is finally old enough for Phineas and Ferb.


Nice Try

So for two years in a row, the top individual prize in the entertainment pantheon — the Oscar for best director — has gone to a Latino.

birdman

That’s great. And Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu took time in his speech to give a shout out to immigrants, which was classy.

But of course, much of González Iñárritu’s triumph was overshadowed by a truly tone-deaf chiste from that master of humor, Sean Penn (as an aside, is there any artist who is more respected but less liked than this guy?).

Now, González Iñárritu has pointed out that Penn’s comment was an inside joke between friends. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, then, and say that Penn isn’t a straight-up racist.

But perhaps inside jokes aren’t a very good idea when millions of people across the planet are watching. And maybe tossing racial jabs isn’t very bright when you’re representing an organization that is hypersensitive about its horrible record on diversity.

All Penn’s joke did was make every white liberal in the audience uncomfortable, confirm the bias that many ethnic minorities believe lurks within the system, and “underscore the problem the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has been trying desperately to disprove.” Namely, that the Academy has a racial issue.

The stunning lack of diversity in the entertainment industry is a well-known facet of American culture, and I’ve written about it more than once.

And it is not, as many right-wingers seem to think, just blacks and Latinos clamoring for jobs they haven’t earned. It’s about equal access and opportunity. One could argue this is all that any fight over civil rights is, at its core.

But when it comes to the entertainment industry, specifically, it is about something more. As González Iñárritu has proved, different perspectives lead to new ideas and new stories. It is essential for any art form that, to remain relevant, it continue to grow.

And to be blunt, there are only so many more movies that we can take about an upper-class white family gathering together for a funeral/wedding, or a white guy’s attempt to bond with his elderly and uncommunicative dad, or the adventures of white prep-school kids coming of age.

We want something else.

 


Keep the Scary Stuff Coming

Whenever I run a contest for free movie tickets, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Does the movie feature Latino themes or tell a Latino-centric story?
  2. Are there any Hispanic actors or actresses in prominent roles?
  3. Is it a horror movie?

For the most part, the answer to #1 is “No, because they don’t make those,” and the answer to #2 is “Maybe, but probably not.”

So I run a lot of contests for horror movies, and as we all know, we Hispanics love those.

As such, I’m offering you the chance to win passes to a screening of The Lazarus Effect, which is about a group of scientists “who achieve the unimaginable — bringing the dead back to life.”

July 2 Lazarus photos by Suzie Hanover400.NEF

 

You can catch it in one of the following cities:

Chicago

El Paso

Los Angeles

Miami

New York City

All you have to do is comment on one of my posts (including this one) about anything you please. Just make sure to tell me what city you plan to see the movie in, and tell me what names (up to two people) I should put on the guest list.

I’ll announce the contest winners in the next week or so.

Until then, please avoid resurrecting corpses. That kind of thing seldom turns out well for anyone involved.

 


The Spirit Moves You

Congratulations to Chase, JT, and Guillermo, all of whom won passes to see Ouija, the new horror movie coming out next week.

I didn’t want to mention this before, but Ouija sounds suspiciously like the 1980s classic Witchboard. That movie starred Tawny Kitaen, so you know it was good.

witchboard1

Clearly, we should all be on the lookout for any future movies that address the problem of demonic mass-produced board games.


Everyone’s Favorite Undocumented Immigrant

Congratulations to KnuckleBaller, of Chicago, who won passes to see a screening of Man of Steel in last week’s contest.

As many people have pointed out, Superman entered the country illegally and has apparently never gotten his green card.

green card

But you won’t catch me dissing America’s number-one superhero icon. That’s like chewing on a big old chunk of kryptonite.

 


Faster Than… Etcetera, Etcetera

According to one survey, the Superman logo is the second most recognized symbol in the world, right after the Christian cross.

superman logo

I have my doubts about the accuracy of that survey, particularly because other symbols (e.g., “$”) are pretty popular. But I think we can all agree that Superman is, at the very least, exceedingly well known.

So I’m happy to offer you the chance to win passes to a screening of Man of Steel, the latest big-screen version of the Superman story, in one of the following cities:

Chicago

Dallas

Houston

El Paso

Los Angeles

Miami

New York

Phoenix

San Diego

San Francisco

All you have to do is comment on one of my posts (including this one) about anything you please. Just make sure to tell me what city you plan to see the movie in, so I can allocate the passes.

If you win, I’ll email you the tickets. By the way, I won’t make your contact info public, so don’t worry about that.

I’ll announce the contest winners in the next week or so.

In the meantime, just try to keep that Superman theme song from playing in your head.


Easy Targets

Congratulations to Gin X, who won passes to see Tom Cruise’s new movie Oblivion. The film is set on a post-apocalyptic Earth. So I’m assuming it’s speculative fiction based on what would happen if the Republicans ever win the presidency again.

Yeah, it’s an obvious joke. But it could have been worse. I could have said something about Scientology.

scientology1

In any case, I hope Gin X likes the movie. Stay tuned for the next contest.

 


End Times

When you’re asked where you’re going, wouldn’t it be really cool to smirk and say, “To Oblivion”?

Well, that works, if you’re actually going to see the movie Oblivion. And you can see it if you win this site’s latest contest.

OBN_Adv1Sht

The film stars Tom Cruise as one of the last remaining humans living on a post-apocalyptic Earth. He rescues a beautiful stranger, and pretty soon things get kooky for him. Morgan Freeman is around to lend gravitas.

You can enter for the chance to win passes to a screening in one of the following cities:

Houston

Los Angeles

Miami

New York City

Dallas

 

All you have to do is comment on one of my posts (including this one) about anything you please. Just make sure to tell me what city you plan to see the movie in, so I can allocate the passes.

If you win, I’ll email you the tickets. By the way, I won’t make your contact info public, so don’t worry about that.

I’ll announce the contest winners in the next week or so.

In the meantime, keep prepping for that doomsday scenario. Just in case.

 


You Shall Not Pass!

Actually, two people shall pass. Ana in Miami and Janee in Los Angeles won the contest for tickets to see The Hobbit.

I hope Ana and Janee enjoy the flick. I plan to catch the movie myself soon, probably sometime between second and third breakfasts.

 


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