Why The Time for the Latino Premiere Club is long Overdue
By Bel Hernandez and Alex Nogales
Sometimes Hollywood gets it right, but most of the time they get it oh so wrong when it comes to the portrayals of Latinos on the screen. Why is that?
A lot has to do with the fact that the majority of the Hollywood writers, producers, studio and network executive who green light the films and TV projects don’t know many Latinos other than those who might work for them as domestic help, the valet, or the gangbanger or illegal immigrant they see on TV. These are the only kinds of roles they know how to write. And unless, they avail themselves of creatives that do have life experiences of authentically Latino culture, then what we get are stories that are stereotypical and sometimes downright offensive.
The stereotype examples abound throughout cinema history, but for recent examples all we need to do is look at ABC’s Work it which in 2012 was cancelled after only 2 airings amidst protests by the Latino community, for such lines as “I’m Puerto Rican. I would be great at selling drugs”. There was an outcry was loud and clear with various advocacy groups and the community at large organizing street protests, letter writing campaigns and creating a social media furor.
Then you have the film Savages, which is rife with stereotypes, and yes they apply to both “White Anglo” and Mexican drug dealers, but take a closer look at how they are portrayed. The U.S., whiter shade of drug dealer are all young, beautiful, smart and in the end triumphant. On the other hand the “Mexican” drug dealers are dark, evil, ruthless, unkempt, sinister, some a little dumb and all lead by a sexy, polyester-wearing spitfire of a drug lord who is outwitted by “white” side. She goes off to jail; the “white” drug dealers go off to a paradise island to live it up. The message speaks volumes, but so do the actions of the Latino audience.
On opening weekend for Savages, Latinos were in theaters watching Ted, the comedy directed, co-produced and co-written by Seth MacFarlane helping add to their total domestic box-office of $218.8 Million. While Savages, which opened 4th that weekend with only $16 million at the box-office and which, to date, has only made a paltry $47.3 domestically.
But to get a real sense of the Latino movie going power, we need only look at the Fast & Furious franchise. Latinos have been a major factor in the box office success of the Fast & Furious franchise since the original premiered in 2001. With each subsequent installment the Latino audience only grew. This year Latinos were 32% of the Fast & Furious 6audience! The message is clear.
The Latino audience responds to seeing themselves among a diverse cast and enjoy being portrayed as the hip cool characters, especially the millennial moviegoer, because that is how they see themselves. The message is clear.
However, there still seems to be a major disconnect with how Hollywood chooses to portrays Latinos and how Latinos would like to see themselves also portrayed. The Latino Premiere Club can help with this disconnect.
The Latino Premiere Club is established by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and Latin HeatMedia Institute. The NHMC is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for media parity and a balanced portrayal of Latinos in the media and headed by Alex Nogales. LatinHeat Media Institute, headed by Bel Hernandez, is a industry-leading organization that is committed to empowering Latinos in entertainment through educational forums, strategic alliances, research; training resources; screenings as well as insight into relevant issues in the entertainment industry.Together these two entities bring nearly 50 years of expertise to the table.
NHMC has used advocacy to address diversity in the media by filing petitions, co-authoring studies and grading television networks for their inclusion of Latinos on the small screen. In addition they fight against hate talk targeted at Latinos. Since 2003 the NHMC has presented The Writers Program providing training and access to Latino writers. The NHMC also honors excellence in the media with their annual Impact Awards
Latin Heat presented the Latin Heat Entertainment Conference and the Vision Award for six years. Through their groundbreaking editorial with their entertainment trade Latin Heat, the only trade focused on the Latino entertainment professional published since 1992, Latin Heat has the only editorial covering the history of Latinos in Hollywood for over 20 years. Latin Heat has also partnered with The Walt Disney Company in presenting a one day conference addressing the needs of the Latino youth in entertainment; collaborated with The Hollywood Reporter on their special Latino Mover and Shakers special coverage; as well assisted Moviemaker Magazine in identifying a cadre of Latino entertainment professional for coverage in their issue spotlighting U.S. Latino filmmakers; Latin Heat has been a partner of the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) consulting on their ALMA Awards; and most recently Latin Heat partnered with Hispanicize to co-produce their Latino Film Festival with Ms. Hernandez serving on their Advisory Board. Ms. Hernandez also served on the George Foster Peabody Awards for six years, the last year as the Chair.
The Latino Premiere Club will focus on harnessing the consumerism of the American Latino by presenting a “first look” at new film releases and television programming and letting this most coveted media consuming audience vote their pocketbook.
U.S. Latinos wield significant influence on the media landscape, at the box office, shaping programming content, dedicated channels and vehicle offerings.
“I often say that movies matter to America. The [U.S.] Latino community is one of the most important to theater owners.” — Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA CinemaCon 2012
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a media advocacy and civil rights organization for the advancement of Latinos, working towards a media that is fair and inclusive of Latinos, and towards universal, affordable, and open access to communications.
Latin Heat Media Institute (LHMI) is a non-profit organization which utilizes multiple platforms and strategic alliances to inform, educate, connect, and empower Latinos in entertainment by providing the resources and tools, as well as insight into relevant issues in the entertainment industry, that inform and advance Latinos in media.
LHMI works as a springboard and catalyst for helping bring Latinos in entertainment to the forefront by producing and hosting a variety of events including but not limited to: Film Screenings, workshops, and symposiums. In addition we aim to document and research the history of Latinos in Hollywood. We also assist with programs that will advance the development and visibility of Latino made and Latino themed films, TV and web projects.
U.S. Latinos have
leverage – The time
has come to use it!