I caught part of American Idol last night, and saw Jennifer Lopez perform. In a way, it was a proud moment, seeing one of the biggest shows on television feature a huge star singing in Spanish on national television. Regardless of anyone's personal opinion of Lopez' musical career, the fact that this milestone was achieved is pretty important. It's a good demonstration of how Latinos are ever more out there, and how pieces of our culture are shown to be completely at home among all the other diversity America has to offer. At the same time, nobody made a big deal out of it being a sort of milestone. It was just a seamless blend with the rest of the show. That's important, because it normalizes such a performance and the occasional Spanglish and Spanish-language advertising I see on a regular basis.
I bet most of the audience didn't understand the song and yet they seemed to get into it anyway, simply enjoying the music and the performance for all it was worth. That's where the pride comes in, knowing that enjoyment and music are things that cross cultural and language barriers.
On a related note, I saw this headline via E! News the other day: "Salma's Spicy Studio Deal" which was referring to the recent production deal signed between Salma Hayek and MGM, to form Ventanazul, a company to develop and distrubute Latino themed film projects. "Spicy"? Way to stereotype. Now, I know most of us are very proud of being a passionate people, but these terms only serve to marginalize and give people a certain impression of us, especially of us Latinas. We're "spicy", "spitfires", "feisty", "hot tamales", etc. But wait – I'm geeky, nerdy, calm, passionate, yes, but whatever happened to celebrating the whole of a person instead of attempting to water them down to an adjective or two? Ventanazul is actually trying to do just that, says Salma, saying that the projects will be involved in "telling uniquely Latin stories like that of Frida Kahlo, to creating unforgettable characters—who just happen to be Latin—like Ugly Betty." Then why such a ridiculously stereotypical headline from the E! writer?
Not that I necessarily disagree that "spicy" may truly describe some people, but it's a tired adjective when attached to stories involving Latinos, and it's about time someone gave these writers a new thesaurus. In the end, I'm happy to hear of the Ventanazul production company and look forward to what kinds of projects will come out of it.