Monday, March 11, 2013

"Girl In Progress" Brings Nothing New

When was the last time you saw a movie and you felt it wasted one hour of your life? For me, it was yesterday after I watched Girl in Progress.

The film is about a single mother named Grace who struggles to pay her daughter high school tuition while working two low wage jobs. In addition to her financial struggle, she is involved romantically with a married man that takes all the attention from her fourteen-year-old daughter who is desperate for her mother’s attention.

This fictional movie tries hard to entertain its audience at the expense of reinforcing the old fashion stereotypes of Latinos being uneducated and women being passionate and not rational.

Girl in Progress has clear definitions of characters based on their ethnicity. Latinos in the film are represented as extremely uneducated, unprofessional and submissive. For example, within the first five minutes of the movie, Grace has a hard time pronouncing a few English words, including her daughter high school principal, as if this is cute and funny.

Although Grace doesn't have an accent, she acts as she was never able to learn proper English. Furthermore, Grace’s vulnerability is illustrated when she decides to return to her affair with a married doctor, as he would help to solve all her problems.

Most of the women that appear in the movie don’t have professional level positions.  Grace works as a maid, and as a waitress. In the restaurant she is seen often with her three females co-workers – old, fat and unintelligent women that they don’t add anything to the plot. 
Another important observation is that females portrayed as successful in the film are white. For example, Ansiedad’s teacher is the only female that gives wise advice. The teacher is a beautiful young white women and Ansiedad respects her more than her own mother.

But the worst part about the movie starts with its production company called, Televisa.

Televisa, is a Mexican media giant that now creates English-language content such as movies and TV shows and shamelessly uses stereotypical formula to try to reach a broader audience to make profits. The content of this movie is “safe” and comfortable for the dominant ideology of this society. The message here is that white people will still be rich with great jobs and Latinos will still have low job expectations because this is the natural way. This is the subtle ideology portrayed in most of the movie even the ones made by Latino production company. Sad.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A New Discovery on Women Day

 I would like to celebrate women day with a personal discovery. I recently discovered the Ms. magazine, a very different women magazine in the market.  For many of you who are not familiar with the Ms. magazine, please let me share with you what is interesting about the Ms.’ editorial and advertising content.

Ms. has a firm understanding of feminist issues and its editorial staff creates important content for women that are hard to find elsewhere in mainstream media. Topics vary from abortion, immigration law, politics, discrimination, global feminist movements, and much more. The content is not simply framed as objective news, but Ms. articles have a clear advocacy of women’s rights. Ms. contains thoughtful analysis of those topics and how they impact women’s lives.

Another important aspect of Ms. online magazine is the advertising content. The online edition has no ads while the magazine has very little. The ads in the magazine are carefully chosen in harmony with its principles and the ads represent the magazine’s community. In Ms. Fall 2012 edition, I counted 15 ads inside the magazine, representing mostly non-profit organizations. Needless to say, there were no Dior, Calvin Klein or beauty products advertising in their pages. The types of ads that represent women in a very stereotypical way (inhumanly beautiful, irresistibly sexy, and treated as an object) are forbidden in Ms. content. Female representation in Ms. is about real women and real issues that affect them.

Moreover, it is important to note the magazine not only covers news from white women but from different races as well. Ms. covers news that affects women across the globe. For example, there are articles ranging from a rape survival in Somali, to a gang-rape in New Delhi which all reflect that sexual violence is not an issue aimed at a single race, but is a issue across the globe for all women.
This brings another important point about Ms. staff members and its publication.  As opposed to the mainstream media outlets, women occupy the upper positions within the magazine, where the hegemony of power is atypical to other news media outlets.  Ms. ideology differs greatly from most mainstream media because it promotes a female perspective and not the point of view of a white-male dominance.

Women outside Ms. are under-represented in the media. Another Ms. article points out that 71% of print journalists between January and November of 2012 were men. This easily translates to a cultural ideology of white-male privilege when it comes to producing news. Consequently, this inequality leads to a lack of understanding and representation about women issues. Moreover, the news routine produced by the dominant white-male ideology creates the perception that this is the “natural” way of our world.

Ms. recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and I wish them many more!!

Uruguay Still Debating To Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana regulation bill still pending approval by Congress. Soon Uruguay could be the first country in the world to directly produce, sell, and control the consumption of marijuana.
The proposal for state-regulated marijuana is part of a package of sixteen different measures designed to fight violence and public insecurity in Uruguay. Possession and consumption of marijuana for personal use is not currently penalized in Uruguay, but it is the commercialization.

If the bill is successful, the nation of just over 3 million people could serve as a model for other countries in the region seeking alternatives to a costly, decades-long drug war. But first, Mujica must convince Uruguayans and political opposition party  that the measure makes sense as people are divide in the issue of legalization.

The interior minister, Eduardo Bunomi believes that first the law should be approved by Congress and then it should go to plebiscite where people could decide to whether approve it or not.
Under the bill, the Uruguayan government would sell and distribute marijuana through state-authorized networks, such as private businesses or clubs associated with cannabis use. Registered adults 18 and older would be allowed a maximum of 40 marijuana cigarettes per month. Consumers exceeding that amount would undergo rehabilitation treatment, financed by taxes on sales of marijuana. Sales of marijuana to foreigners would be prohibited.
The government’s priority will be to prevent state-produced marijuana from entering the local or international black market.

“Someone has to start in South America,” said Mujica. “Somebody has to be first, because we are losing the battle against drugs and crime on the continent. I do this for the youth, because the traditional ways of addressing this problem have failed.”

The "Poorest" President In The World

He was wearing worn cotton blue pants, a light blue polo shirt and a brown jacket when the BBC conducted the famous interview that gained him the label of the poorest president on earth. Jose Mujica is 77 years old and was elected president for the first time in Uruguay in 2010. Inside his humble house, a flower farm owned by his senator wife, Lucía Topolansky, he says, “ They say that I’m the poorest president. No, I’m not. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more.”  

 Uruguay is squeezed between Argentina and Brazil, with half of the country touching the Atlantic Ocean. Its 3.3 million people, where an estimated 88% of the population is of European descent, are largely middle class and the country is known for its liberal social laws such a legalization of marijuana and abortion.  

 However, the Uruguayan president's lifestyle is similar to the  18.6 % population below poverty line than any politician in country. 

He drives a 1987 VW Beetle and donates 90% of his salary to charity. He earns approximate $ 12,500 dollars a month but believes that he only needs $1,250 to live. “I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,” Mujica says.

But what is the most fascinating about Mujica is his background. During the 1970s coup d'état that took place in Uruguay, he was shot 7 times and spent 14 years in jail. Much of those years, Mujica was in a cell in solitude and under acute torture as a norm for political prisoners.
Mujica could have turned into a hateful person toward the militaries and governed his presidency similar to Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro. Instead, for anyone who has seen Mujica’s latest speech in Rio+20 Summit that resemble more to Noam Chomsky or Eduardo Galeano thoughts than any president of the twenty-one century. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Is Seth MacFarlane edgy or offensive?

CBS was delighted to have Seth MacFarlane hosting the 58th Academy Awards because the ratings among the desirable 18-to 49-years old demographic were 11 percent higher than 2012. Seth MacFarlane is an icon of pop culture and was a great choice for the Academy ceremony to boost up its increasingly low audience rating that five years ago hit the lowest ever. But do numbers say that he was a good host?

I personally don’t think so. I need to say that I’m a big fan of Family Guy and I have watched every single episode. Yes, the show has the most racist and sexist content on television, but that is the format of this cartoon and I can choose to turn the channel if I feel offended - which I do not. However, as a host, Seth was rather unfunny, targeting his jokes to women and minorities, which he confessed is his “guilty pleasure.”

When the fat Peter Griffin makes racist comments about Consuela (his Latina maid) I laugh, but when a sharp suited Seth MacFarlane presented Salma Hayek by saying how no one could understand a word Latinos said, I did not laugh.

Organizers felt different than me. An Academy spokeswoman in a statement said that Seth MacFarlane did a great job, and “we hope our worldwide audience found the show entertaining.”
Of course he did a great job. He helped raise the ratings and that’s all the Academy and CBS care about.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Papal Concave Surrounded with Scandals And Intrigue

Pope Benedict will resign the papacy at the end of February 2013 citing the deterioration of his health for the decision. This is the first time in hundreds of years that a Pope has resigned before dying in office. Critics say that Pope Benedict may influence the decision of his successor. 

The bureaucracy of the Vatican and the secrecy of the election leave room for media speculation.  Just as it happens in presidential elections, the media begins scrutinizing the possible candidates for the soon to be vacant papal position, especially those who may have played a role in the sexual scandal that erupted in 2010. 

In recent days, Italian reporters believe that the American Cardinal, Roger M. Mahony, who protected priests accused of sexually abusing minors, should no be invited to the conclave- the assembly of cardinals for the election of the next Pope. Also, new sexual accusations are being leaked in the media and are already being firmly denied by people who work in the Vatican. 

As Cardinals from around the world are arriving at the Vatican for the choosing of the next Pope, it is more likely that the successor will be European as it has been for a very long time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Can Sport Superheroes Be Human Beings?

Lately, an epidemic of imperfect sport superheroes are filling up the news and not necessarily for their athletic achievements, but by the antagonist behavior of a superhero such as lying, cheating, and murdering.
Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee who became an exceptional runner on carbon-fiber blades in the Paralympic and Olympic races, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp who died after 4 gunshots on the night of Valentine’s Day. Pistorius initially declared that he confused his girlfriend with an intruder but as details emerged in the ongoing investigation, she was shot through a bathroom door and neighbors heard the couple fighting previous to hearing the gun shots.

While sport fans are seeing their hero plummeting down, sponsors are quickly withdrawing millions of dollars from Pistorius. Sponsors release statements as if they were as important as the statements from the victims’ families or lawyers.  “In light of the recent allegations, Oakley is suspending its contract with Oscar Pistorius, effective immediately,”an Oakley spokeswoman said.

 We live in a society that is obsessed with sport superheroes that have unique stories of overcoming unthinkable challenges and therefore their life becomes a sort of untouchables journey, or at least that’s what we think.  

 Sponsors play a big role in creating that fallacy. For example, Nike helped Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong to polish a perfect image of undefeatable superheroes in order to profit from their images. Without a doubt those athletes have unmistakable talent and perhaps are the best in their fields. However, the high expectation and the pressure to be a sport superhero make them fall to the darker side of a human being.