Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media

By Clara E. Rodríguez | Go to book overview

5 Citizen Chicano: The Trials and Titillations of Ethnicity in the American Cinema, 1935-1962

Chon Noriega

Between 1935 and 1962, at least ten social-problem films addressed the issue of the "place" of the Mexican American in the United States. 1 With the exception of two gang-exploitation films--Boulevard Nights and Walk Proud (both 1979)--these remained the only feature-length films to be "about" Mexican Americans or Chicanos until the emergence of Chicano-produced feature films in the late 1970s.

These films were produced at a significant moment in the development of an American as well as an ethnic-American national identity. In these social-problem films, the political, socioeconomic, and psychological issues related to race and ethnicity operate at the manifest level of the narrative rather than as the "political unconscious." In the end, these films must still resolve these social contradictions and situate the Mexican American within normative gender roles, social spaces, and institutional parameters.

Before I turn to the films themselves, it is necessary to sketch in the contours of the period between the Depression and the election of John F. Kennedy, a period Chicano scholars have identified as the Mexican-American Generation. 2 Within Chicano historiography, the period is framed on either side by the border conflict era ( 1848-1929) and the Chicano Movement ( 1963-75).

It is between 1929 and 1941, as Richard Garcia argues, that the "Mexican- American mind" emerged. By 1930, border conflict had dismantled the remnants of the old Mexican political and economic system. Mexicanos, including a new wave of immigrants, had provided cheap labor for the agricultural and industrial transforma

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Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • Part One - Latinos on Television and in the News: Absent or Misrepresented 13
  • Notes 19
  • 1: Out of the Picture 21
  • 2 - Hispanic Voices: is the Press Listening? 36
  • Notes 53
  • 3: Distorted Reality 57
  • Part Two - The Silver Screen: Stories and Stereotypes 73
  • Notes 79
  • 4: Visual Retrospective 80
  • 5: Citizen Chicano 85
  • 6 - Stereotyping in Films in General and of the Hispanic in Particular 104
  • References 119
  • 7 - Chicanas in Film: History of an Image 121
  • Notes 139
  • 8: From Assimilation to Annihilation 142
  • 9: West Side Story 164
  • 10: Keeping It Reel? Films of the 1980s and 1990s 180
  • Part Three - Creating Alternative Images: The Others" Present Themselves" 185
  • 11 - From the Margin to the Center: Puerto Rican Cinema in New York 188
  • Notes 199
  • 12: Unofficial Stories 200
  • 13: Type and Stereotype 214
  • 14 - Two Film Reviews: My Family/Mi Familia and the Perez Family 221
  • 15 - Hispanic-Oriented Media 225
  • Notes 236
  • References 236
  • Part Four - Strategies for Change 239
  • 16 - Promoting Analytical and Critical Viewing 240
  • Notes 247
  • Notes 250
  • Notes 253
  • 17 - Questions and Reflections About the Reading in This Book 254
  • 18: What We Can Do 261
  • References 271
  • About-The Book, and Editor 275
  • About the Contributors 277
  • Index 279
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