(Jennifer Lopez in “Bordertown,” which won’t be seen in the United States)
by Guest Contributor Alisa Valdes-Rodiguez, originally published at Multiplicative Indentity
In 2007, Mexican-born author Reyna Grande’s first novel, “Across a Hundred Mountains,” is released to critical acclaim, and wins the American Book Award – yet Grande’s San Diego bookstore appearance is canceled after anti-immigrant patrons call the manager to protest their support of a novel by and about “illegals”.
In 2004, the South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa, Calif., kills its Hispanic Playwright’s Project, in part to appease donors who fear “illegals” benefiting from their money.
In 2007, Touchstone Pictures pulls the plug on “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” a feature film starring Eva Longoria, about a fully assimilated Mexican American woman, saying there is nothing particularly “Latina” about an educated, professional shopaholic from Texas; meaning, the character is “too American” for audiences to believe as “Latina”. (Meanwhile, Texas is no longer a majority-white state, and most Latinos there speak English…)
In 2005, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles dismantles all four of its minority playwright development programs.
In 2008, People magazine puts Latina singer Christina Aguilera on the cover and sees the average number of copies sold drop by more than 100,000.
The Latin Grammys, created in 2000 with a mainstream English-language CBS audience in mind, have since been downgraded to Univision only, in part due to protests from anti-Latino viewers.
In 2007, ABC decides to pull the plug on The George Lopez Show, even though the show had better ratings than at least two other series that were renewed; he is replaced by a short-lived sitcom about cavemen.
Also in 2007, Jennifer Lopez wraps filming on the Gregory Nava movie “Bordertown,” about serial killings of Mexican women along the US-Mexico border, only to find that it will not be released in the United States after all; hostile anti-Mexican reaction in screenings relegate the film to release in Europe only. Variety magazine savages the film’s anti-NAFTA stance. The film goes on to win several awards at the Berlin film festival, including one from Amnesty International.
I, meanwhile, have seen my publisher decide to stop printing my books simultaneously in Spanish for the domestic market, citing a waning interest from booksellers for such material. Latina authors in my circle of friends all say times have gotten harder and harder for them over the past two or three years, with several telling me they, like I, have been on the receiving end of more and more hate-mail through their web sites and blogs. Personally, I have seen the advances paid on my books decline by 80 percent, and the size of my book tours slashed from 14 cities to 4.
Taken separately, these anecdotes might appear to be nothing more than bad luck, or flukes, a the natural ebb and flow of a career in the fickle entertainment industry. But taken together, and held up against a shifting corporate media climate that increasingly scapegoats and targets immigrants and Latinos (a trend both the ACLU and FBI blame for drastic rise in hate-crimes against Latinos), they paint a frightening picture of an increasingly hostile America for all Latinos – creative artists included.