Monday, June 22, 2009

Same Hispanics on network TV

NBC Just Can't Quit Same Old Hispanics
Can We Have One Segment Without Gloria or Dora or Shakira?
Laura Martinez, AD AGE, 06.18.09

This week the Hispanic blogosphere was abuzz with one topic in particular: NBC's "We the People," a week-long series on Hispanics in America which kicked off Monday and looks to address several topics facing the Hispanic community in the U.S.

Unsurprisingly, the series featured a five-minute-plus segment with NBC's Kerry Sanders, who greeted viewers by sipping a delicious cafe con leche and making sure to tell us his favorite ice-cream flavor is dulce de leche (all this in a heavily accented Spanglish, which made for some entertaining morning TV). That's nice. But will mainstream media ever get past the likes of Gloria Estefan, Dora the Explorer, Shakira and "West Side Story" to illustrate how Hispanics are "changing the face of America," like, for the millionth time?

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Or, as one writer of the up-and-coming blog Guanabee put it this week: "Latinos have impacted pop culture, specifically in the realms of media and entertainment -- because Latinos in the realm of science, literature, and politics won't likely be discovered 'til next year." Or, as yet another Hispanic blogger wrote upon watching the segment: "Hispanics are from Mars, everybody else is from Earth."

The segment also included a brief discussion after one of the presenters expressed her shock upon discovering that Gustavo Santaolalla's Oscar-winning music for "Brokeback Mountain" was actually not salsa -- and other "insights" of the like. ("You really never know who is Hispanic, and who isn't, these days.")

To be sure, the series has also touched on some interesting issues, including bilingual education, immigration and the divide ripping through mixed-status families, striking a healthy balance among the salsa lessons and fish-and-avocado taco recipes.

What I found most refreshing about the whole thing, though, was that U.S. Hispanics (and not necessarily those featured on Kerry Sanders' segment) are making themselves heard with their own sardonic voices, on their own blogs and websites and in their own terms, disturbing a little the once unbreakable and unidirectional media landscape.

Now, that is what I find revolutionary.

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