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Full Circle...

Months ago I wanted to blog about high heels. In the past few weeks we've been discussing representation. More recently, we've looked at different examples "in the spotlight" such as Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez. I would like to just throw out some thoughts, randomly, perhaps linking these things together.

We discussed the relevance of choice, which I believe pertains to all of these matters. So are high heels a symbol which may be seen as oppressive and which then may be reclaimed to offer a feminist agency? Can a personal choice simply be chalked up to just that, choice? I think they're pretty, therefore, the choice that I have made shatters any argument one would have regarding oppression becuase I took ownership over my choice? Which leads me to...

Jennifer Lopez and Penelope Cruz and their "choices" in hollywood regarding representation. What are their allegiances "supposed" to be toward? Should either be making decisions upon what brand to endorse or what roles to play based upon a larger audience that they may or may not choose to represent? If by the "HEELS" argument, it should be more important that they may choose the things that may give themselves the most mobility (which seems to turn these issues into more class-based)? I realize that J. Lo's and Penelope's decisions are not being formed in the classroom, but with the heels argument it was difficult for me not to argue the full spectrum of choice when it comes to representation.

I don't quite HAVE representation yet. Or maybe I'm making it more complicated than it needs to be. My first semester at the U I jumped into a CSCL class at the 3000 level and I didn't learn what "DISCOURSE" really was until the end of the semester. I feel that two years later I still am grappling with representation. Especially in terms of film. For this I will return to J. Lo.

So we have
J. Lo's personal life (which few can claim to know).
J. Lo's career (biography, if you will).
J. Lo's individual jobs (some of which may be a part of the personal life or the career).
J. Lo's films (which would be the most arguable as NOT having anything to do with her personal life).

When we discuss representation, I have no idea (STILL) how we can even get our heads around this. I would understand more if we talked only about someone's political activism, or about only someone's writing, as it comes from within, right? I don't understand representation when someone has all of these layers that could have NOTHING to do with them.

What are the choices in J. Lo's personal life, as opposed to career choice, as opposed to acting roles? My point is with Maid in Manhattan or Selena, I find it very difficult to have these discussions because they are not her. Are we discussing that she is Nuyorican and made the DECISION to play a Mexican American and the subsequent problematics? Or are we discussing how someone else framed this "star" and how WELL she is portraying or representing someone? It's like a tornado for me, really.

Anyway, I could probably zone in and choose a side and argue it, but first i need to get over "representation." I still have questions about representation regarding sexuality...

Comments

I too have been thinking a lot about J. Lo and the rest of the slew of latina actresses we've been discussing. Part of me feels like its unfair to criticize Latina actresses for the roles they choose to play even if they are stereotypical and perhaps damaging to the larger community. I mean after all they are actresses and it is there job to be in films. If they waited around for a role that wasn't stereotypical or type-casted then they might not work for a while, I mean lets face it most forms of media and entertainment aren't politically correct if you will. I think if you want to get rid of stereotypes in film you need to go to the source rather than point the blame at the symptom which means going after writers and producers that make these films.

I also think its interesting that people criticize these actresses because they believe they should be representing the larger latina community in general. I don't ever see anyone telling Tom Cruise to stop being crazy because he's making white people look bad. So why then do we always expect people of color in the public spotlight to represent some larger community. I mean just because someone happens to be latino or any other ethnicity, doesn't mean they even identify with that community.

However, another part of me sees Latinas continuing to play into these stereotypes and I cringe. I do still get mad and find myself wanting to yell at Latina actresses and say, "Why are you making us look like that!"

A while back I read a quote by one of my favorite actors, Gael Garcia-Bernal. His quote was "I'm an actor. I don't need to abide by any ethnicity." When I first read this quote it made me mad. How could he not want to represent his ethnicity (Latino). However, now I completely understand what he was talking about. The last part of the course we have been talking about Latina actresses and how they play stereotypical roles. Yes, Jennifer Lopez plays roles where she marries rich white men. However, let's not forget she also helped produce a movie about the killings in Juarez, which never played in major movie theaters because of politics. She was also part of the cast in the movie My Family, which portrays the struggles of a three generation immigrant family. Therefore, Jennifer Lopez's acting career has had some variety in caracters. Why, should actresses of a certain ethnic backgrounds be responsible for representing their community as a whole. Isn't it stupid on our part to believe that it's their job to educate us on culture? We criticize them, yet by doing so we are also upholding them to do something that maybe they don't care about. Like NIkki said we don't criticize Tom Cruise for acting foolish. We don't scandalize of Paris Hilton's portrayal of white women. However, we are harsh when criticizing Latina actresses. Why shouldn't they have the freedom to do pointless characters whithout having to be criticized for it.