spixploitation films

April 27, 2012

What did you learn about the presentation of Latinos in American film since 9/11?



  1. I’ve got to say, going in I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, our host was very articulate and provided sufficient examples of the negative depiction of Latinos in the general modern American consciousness. I was already well-aware of the “twins” in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (blame Director Michael Bay for tainting a popular children’s cartoon), but the other examples indicated a consistent pattern of the filmmakers making unneeded commentary that is overall negligible to the movie’s narrative. In particular, he noted that Gamer showed a man as a mindless NPC (“sprite”) that only served as cannon fodder as the camera noted his broom, relegating his worker status in death. Other films show the unnecessary use of violence as a method of subordination. He went on to explain that this pattern reinforces a low tier in society’s structure. I haven’t seen any of these films except the Transformers one, but I can’t say if I would have picked up on this if I wasn’t focusing on these scenes. Having been made aware of this pattern now, I can say that people shouldn’t have to put up with the things from Hollywood. These types of these don’t add anything to the movies they represent and only serve to create a negative cultural impact.

  2. My mind was blown the minute I sat in my seat. I kept thinking about the presentation even after it ended. I do try to force myself to think of racism, islamophobia, homophobia, sexism..etc. However, I have never, and this is I’m ashamed of, thought of latinophobia. And maybe it was hard to notice that. The presenter mentioned the Latinos are portrayed as inanimate objects like the clip we saw in Meryl Streep’s movie. I learned that next time I watch a movie I need to look at the background and not only the words they say. Throughout the whole presentation I was waiting for him to say what is it about 9/11 that created latinophobia. How did 9/11 trigger/create latinophobia? Or is it just a time period?

  3. I had arrived to this presentation roughly a half of an hour early,(oops) but this allowed me to talk to our presenter for a small bit. He had explained to me that having some exposure to critical theory and analysis would help in understanding his presentation. While he was correct in this, I was still in awe over how easy it was to miss some of the subtle Latin racism. I have seen all of the movies that he drew examples from and con honestly say that the only movie that I had picked up on the “Spixplotation” was Gran Torino. I was also very surprised at the small clip that he showed from that movie as the whole beginning of the movie is riddled with racist comments and slurs toward the Latino culture. I learned through this presentation how important it is to not just casually glance over the side comments made off scene as made evident in Nixon. Directors have a legitimate reason for including everything that they do in films, why they would choose to include such racism is beyond me, but perhaps it is to show how desensitized, arrogant, and rude we have become as a nation and a culture, or perhaps it is to further desensitize us.

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