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

By Clara E. Rodríguez | Go to book overview

11
From the Margin to the Center: Puerto Rican Cinema in New York

Lillian Jiménez

Without a doubt, in order to stand on our own two feet Puerto Ricans of all generations must begin by affirming our own history. It is as if we are saying--we have roots, therefore we are!

-- Bernardo Vega1

For many Puerto Rican film and video makers, picking up the camera was equivalent to "picking up the gun" in defense of civil and human rights in the United States after the Civil Rights Movement. The beginning of this "coming to self" as bell hooks describes it, was the desire to expose the terrible conditions under which Puerto Ricans of this generation had been raised; challenge the assumptions under which these conditions thrived; and re-create the institutions and society that had engendered them. In this war, images were a potent weapon. Through popular culture, distorted images of spitfires and Latin lovers (oversexed and irresponsible Latinos), brutish farm workers (substandard intelligence), bandidos (untrustworthy), petty tyrants, welfare recipients or drug addicts (undisciplined children) had burned their place into the collective consciousness of Puerto Ricans and the broader society. In effect, the dominant ideology and its cultural machinery indicted Puerto Ricans as responsible for their own conditions. It followed that American benevolence, through its institutions, was necessary to protect them from themselves. In the late 60s and early 70s, a new generation of Puerto Ricans responded to these assumptions with, "Fuego, fuego, fuego, los yankis quieren fuego" (Fire, fire, fire, the yankees want fire). As Iris Morales, a Young Lord in the documentary film produced by

-188-

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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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