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December 10, 2008

El Zorro Continued

I ended up watching the next episode of Zorro after I posted last night, and it was unbelievable how much the comandante's wife represented characteristics of La Malinche. It was made apparent that she is secretly a traitor to her husband and Spain, because she felt it necessary to be "under a man with strong leadership" (double entendre!) She had been secretly communicating with an underground organization that threatened the rule of the king.

I also found it very interesting that she was in a position of power, and passed on directions to those under her watch. This is similar to La Malinche because she was a translator, and could exist in both worlds, like the comandante's wife (who was never suspected of being the one working behind the scenes). One could also argue that her betrayal of her husband could be likened to the betrayal of indigenous lands to the Spanish. It's amazing to me that so many people probably watched this show and had no idea about the political and historical archetypes it was presenting.

December 7, 2008

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...

December 2, 2008

Lupe vs. Lopez

So I was thinking about the class discussion yesterday about Lupe Velez and the clips we watched from Maid in Manhattan, and it seems like there are some very stark contrasts between Lupe and J. Lo, not just in terms of the roles that they played but also in the public persona that they maintain(ed). What I noticed watching Marisa is that her character seems to have her opinions swayed back and forth by other characters in the movie (Stephanie, her boss, Chris) and she is pushed into acting different ways based on what other people think. Lupe's character however, or at least what I could tell from the montage we watched, did not wait for other people to tell her what to do or say, and was very quick to tell other people her honest opinion and to act as she saw fit, not caring what they thought. Her character also did not prize marriage to be the ultimate goal in life, repeating over and over in one scene "I want to leave my husband!" This seemed to be true in her personal life as well, as she said "I've always been afraid of marriage, it seems to me like being imprisoned in an iron cage...I do not tolerate anyone telling me what I can and cannot do." Lopez on the other hand has been married (or close to it) on more than one occasion. And this last spring/summer she gave People magazine the first glimpses of her newborn twins, and the happy, wealthy, heterosexual home that she and Marc have built together. I don't know that I would consider either Lupe or Lopez to be outstanding role models per se, however I do think that as a feminist and progressive figure that Lupe has a definite edge over J. Lo.

cultural crossdressing or cultural appropriation?

There was a particular passage that Jill and I were discussing in small group last week that I meant to bring up to the whole class but didn't have time to get to. In the "Representations of Latinidad in Hispanic Barbie" there following sentence about the costuming of Barbie and Ken sparked our discussion:

"Barbie and Ken's cultural cross-dressing metonymically invites the consumer to objectify the exotic other without ever actually invoking the image of the other's body."

Jill argued, and I agree, that to use cross-dressing in this context is not only inaccurate, but takes away from the specific subversive power and political or cultural message that cross-dressing and gender bending have. I feel like the term cultural appropriation would have been more accurate, since Mattel was using these folkloric Mexican designs as a means to financial gain, and was doing so most likely without permission or support from anyone from that specific culture. So I was just putting that out to the class to see if anyone felt the same or differently, and if they thought appropriation or another term would have been better used.

November 25, 2008

Ugly Betty

There were a couple of things in particular from Ugly Betty that I wanted to relay back to previous class texts/discussions. The first is an episode in season one where Betty's boss is helping her sister Hilda, nephew Justin, father Ignacio, and Hilda's ex and Justin's father Santos. After decorating the tree for hours, we watch Justin tell Daniel about the ornament he fashioned out of chenille. Daniel asks him where he got the chenille and he says he got it at the fabric store. It is at this point that Santos feels that he needs to step in and tells Justin that they should go play football outside. After Justin says that they need to continue decorating the tree Santos says "Give the glitter a rest, come outside and be a normal kid for an hour." Hilda takes him aside and tells him that he has no right to come back into the family after previously deserting them and judge people, and Santos replies, "You want me to come here and watch him play with chenille and not say anything?" This reminded me a lot of the central conflict in "Boots" where Jito's father is outraged that he would play with Mari's batons, something he considers the exclusive domain of females. After he gets rid of the batons, he urges Jito's brother Junior once again to teach him how to fight, in an attempt to put him in the arena of masculinity. Likewise, Santos tries to substitute what he considers to be a feminine activity (decorating) for a masculine one (football/contact sports).

Another plot point in the series that reminded me of something we discussed in class was the transgendered character Alexis Meade (formerly Alexander Meade) played by Rebecca Romijn. The fact that there is any transgendered character on a mainstream hit television show, owned by Disney even, is kind of amazing. However, the only reason that this is the case is because the character is white, extravagantly wealthy, and especially because she has super model good looks. It is this last part that reminds me of the video that we watched about Latina m-t-f transgendered women who were competing in that pageant, and the one woman in particular who said that it is pivotal that transwomen show that they can be just as beautiful and glamorous as female-bodied women.

November 17, 2008

Closing thoughts

As we come to a close on our studying about sexual roles, identities, and sexual expression i feel as though we have learned quite a bit. One significant discussion sticks out in my head. When we watched the segments on latino transexual and transgender individuals. I was really taken aback by the whole lifestyle because i have never really had an exposure to it. I found it all so interesting. The fact that they go through a lot of disscrimnation is not suprise considering that we live in such a unaccepting world, but it was a bit shocking that latino transgenders received more discrimination than others. But after class, as i thought about it more, there is a hierarchy of disscrimination in all aspects of life, so why would this situation be any different?
For example, even though men are considered superior, within men-white men are seen as better and then it goes down from there race by race.

When we were watching the clips i enjoyed being exposed to a lifestyle that is not always shown in a real light. They discussed dating issues. Like one of the people in the documentary discussed dating issues. whether or not her partner had informed his family that she was a transgender. That is a such a difficult issue to have to discuss but obviously a reality in their lives. One of the many tough realities. My hope someday is that more and more people become educated on the lifestyle so there will be more broad acceptance. This is my hope with alot of things, but hopefully once it starts somwhere it will be a snowball effect of acceptance.

October 22, 2008

What is Choice

After watching the movie "la operacion" in class, I was totally disgusted at how doctors abused their power and mislead many women into becoming sterilized. Doctors are supposed to be professionals who take an oath to help people. It made me mad and scared that doctors could be so inhumane. These women should have been informed of the procedure of sterilization and the pros and cons such that they could make an informed decision. It makes me mad to know that these women were taken advantage of because of their lack of knowledge on the subject and low economic status. It made me scarred to realize how lack of knowledge in a certain field could make me vulnerable to making uninformed decisions. I would like to think that my doctor had the best intentions for me and that he/she would recommend the best treatment for my medical concern. However, after watching this video I realized that I shouldn't be so naive and place full trust on my doctor. Sometimes it is best to do one's own research aside from doctor's recommendations in order to make a more well informed decision that might prevent future regrets.
Watching this video also brought back memories of how my mother was mistreated during two of her pregnancies. When my mother was pregnant with my brother, the doctor along with a social worker wanted her to give up my brother for adoption. Their reasoning was that my mother already had 3 children and that another child would be too much of an economic burden on her family. My mother thought they were crazy and didn't give up my brother for adoption. Another time, my mother was pregnant with my younger sister and the doctor urged her to have an abortion because according to some tests they had performed, the baby would be born with down syndrome. Being a devout Catholic, my mother refused to have an abortion. Later, my sister was born and she did not have down syndrome, she is a perfectly healthy child without any health problems. I think women should be able to choose whether they want to give up their children up for adoption or if they want to have an abortion. However, doctors should not have a say on the women's choice nor should they try to impose their personal views on them.