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1 Lecture 6: To assimilate or not to assimilate? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Lecture 6: To assimilate or not to assimilate? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Lecture 6: To assimilate or not to assimilate? Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez

2 2 In the last lecture… Stereotypes & Story Six Latino Stereotypes Resistance is Possible –Progressive Images –Latinos Playing Latinos Dolores Del Rio

3 3 In this lecture… Genre & the Social Problem Film Bordertown (1933) & Assimilation Narrative Salt of the Earth (1954) & Resistance You can pause the lecture at any point, click on one of the hyperlinks (text that is underlined) to visit a site or view a clip, and then return to the same point in the lecture when you’re ready.

4 4 Genre & the Social Problem Film Lecture 6: Part 1

5 5 Remember The Six Types El Bandido Harlot Male Buffoon Female Clown Latin Lover Dark Lady

6 6 Remember Key Concepts Denotative Features Change Connotative Feature Remain Consistent Across Hollywood Film History –Visual Formula –Narrative Formula Leo Carrillo Leo Carrillo in The Cisco Kid (1950)The Cisco Kid Alfonso Arau Alfonso Arau in ¡Three Amigos! (1986)¡Three Amigos!

7 7 Stereotypes Specific Representations Entrenched Storytelling Conventions –Goal-Oriented Protagonist White, Handsome, Straight, Protestant –Stereotypes and Minor Characters Villains, Sidekicks, Temptresses Provide Hero w/ Opportunities to Display Moral, Physical and Intellectual Preeminence

8 8 What is genre? Collection of Visual Features –Motifs –Chronotopes –Iconography Recreation of Narrative Elements –Setting –Time and Space Facilitate Audience Expectations

9 9 Basic Definition “Stated simply, genre movies are those commercial feature films which, through repetition and variation, tell familiar stories with familiar characters in familiar situations. They also encourage expectations and experiences similar to those of similar films we have already seen.” - Berry Keith GrantBerry Keith Grant

10 10 Sampling of Hollywood Genres Key Genres We Consider –Western –Science Fiction –Chicano/a Film Key Questions to Ask: –What are the visual features/motifs? –What are the narrative features/discourses? –What are audience expectations How are they triangled?

11 11 Social Problem Combines Social Analyses –Prejudice –Anti-Semitism –Alcoholism –Drug Addiction –War –Labor Unions Dramatic Conflict –Heroes and Villains –Families and Nations

12 12 Chicano/a Social Problem Bordertown (1935)Bordertown Right Cross (1950)Right Cross The Lawless (1950)The Lawless My Man and I (1952)My Man and I The Ring (1952)The Ring Salt of the Earth (1954)Salt of the Earth Trial (1955)Trial Giant (1956)Giant

13 13 The Problem Chicano Faces Poverty Chicano Confronts Discrimination Chicano Rejects Family to Fight for Rights Chicano Stumbles in the Fight –Whites Help Chicano Chicano Returns to Barrio –Family is More Important than Assimilation Chicano Cannot Assimilate, but Whites Shouldn’t Discriminate

14 14 Thesis “More often than not they endorse the very system they set out to criticize. Their obligatory happy ending metaphorically or actually sends the Chicano back to the barrio where he began, leaving him to cope with the negligible opportunity that exists for him there. In an alternative ending, the Chicano overcomes the barriers to assimilation and mainstream success only after he purges himself of the (from the patriarchal WASP point of view) more problematic aspects of his character.” – Charles Ramírez Berg.

15 15 Bordertown (1933) & Assimilation Narrative Lecture 6: Part 2 John Ramirez (Paul Muni) in Bordertown (1935)Paul MuniBordertown

16 16 Credits Released in 1935 Directed by Archie MayoArchie Mayo Stars Paul Muni & Bette DavisPaul MuniBette Davis Set on the Border Shot from Bordertown (1935)Bordertown

17 17 Plot Summary “Bordertown follows the standard rags-to-riches-to- rags assimilation narrative. Johnny Ramírez, a tough kid from East Los Angeles, matures into a responsible adult and acquires ambition and dedication when, as the judge who delivers his school commencement address puts it, ‘he realized his opportunities and duties as an American citizen.’” He is betrayed by a white woman, eventually using the money he has earned to “endow a law school in the barrio, and returns, in his words, ‘back where I belong… with my own people’.” This film is difficult to secure for screening. Review Ramírez Berg’s synopsis (pg ). What’s important is that you understand his argument about the film and the evidence from the film that supports that argument.

18 18 Evidence Stereotypical Inversion Undiminished Stereotyping Male Chicano Protagonist Overprotective Mama Absent Father Absent Chicana Alluring but Flawed Anglo Woman Reductive Definition of Success

19 19 Stereotypical Inversion Boost Ethnics by Denigrating Anglos –Oversexed Blondes / Materialistic Socialites –Harsh and Inflexible Authority Figures Conflict Bases of Narrative White Hero (Paternal) / Hero Mediates “Naturally the Chicano protagonist makes the sound ethical choice when he recoils from such a thoroughly venal Anglo universe and retires to the moral haven of the barrio.” – Charles Ramírez Berg

20 20 Undiminished Stereotyping Complicated Ethnic Type Mediated by Simplistic Stereotype of Other Ethnics Rationalizes Oppression Despite Sympathetic Plight of Ethnic Assimilation Dances with Wolves (1990)Dances with Wolves –Sioux –Pawnee Bordertown –Chinese Servant –Mexican Defense Lawyer Shot from Dances with Wolves (1990)Dances with Wolves

21 21 Male Chicano Protagonist Palatable to Mainstream Audiences –Male Lead (Salt of the Earth is an exception)Salt of the Earth –Casting Anglo in Role (Touch of Evil)Touch of Evil –Giving Character Upper-Class Status “Since in Hollywood films, an ethnic woman can be only an overprotective matriarch, the ‘other woman,’ or a harlot, this practice automatically relegates Chicanas to stereotypical roles.” – Charles Ramírez Berg.

22 22 Overprotective Mama & Absent Father Naïve, Good-Natured, Long-Suffering Mom –The Jazz Singer (1927)The Jazz Singer –The Godfather (1972)The Godfather Anglo Family Complete/Ethnic Family Dysfunctional Often due to Absent Dad –Bordertown –La Bamba (1987)La Bamba

23 23 Absent Father as Catalytic “From the patriarchal perspective, the missing father is indicative of abnormal Oedipal development. Never able to identify fully with the father, the Chicano male cannot symbolically become like him, nor can he take his productive, ‘masculine’ place in society. This interrupted transition for pleasure principle to reality principle, from the familial order to the social one, helps explain his antisocial behavior.” – Charles Ramírez Berg

24 24 Absent Chicana Except for Mother, Chicana is Almost Non- Existent (she is background color) –Note Chicano Love Interest When Present, Chicana is a Helper Often a Love Interest of Anglo Male (remnants of the Dark Lady stereotype)

25 25 Alluring but Flawed Anglo Woman Chicano Male’s Only Option for Romance As Love Interest, “Anglo Woman” Must Be Flawed –Emotional Problems –Psychological Problems –Moral Problems “By the use of an insidiously controlled self- preserving logic, Anglo patriarchy maintains its genetic ‘purity’ in part by negatively stereotyping Anglo women as childish miscreants.” – Charles Ramírez Berg

26 26 Reductive Definition of Success “Hollywood’s providing Mexican American protagonists in the Chicano-centered social problem film (save for Salt of the Earth) does not really improve the situation. A principle reason is that the heroes in these movies do not enjoy the sort of unbridled success available to Anglo protagonists. They get greatly scaled-down versions of Anglo success or they get failure.” – Charles Ramírez Berg

27 27 The Big Point “Given the constraints of the ideological patterns just described, it is obvious that the deck is stacked in significant ways against Chicanos in these films. Add to this the structure of the Hollywood formula, which demands that an accessible hero find a happy resolution to the conflicts animated by these narratives, and we can appreciate why many of these social problem films deprecate the group they mean to celebrate.” – Charles Ramírez Berg

28 28 Salt of the Earth (1954) & Resistance Lecture 6: Part 3 Ramon Quintero (Juan Chacón) in Salt of the Earth (1954)Juan ChacónSalt of the Earth

29 29 Credits Released in 1954 Directed by Herbert BibermanHerbert Biberman Stars Rosaura RevueltasRosaura Revueltas Set in New Mexico

30 30 Plot Summary “Against a backdrop of social injustice, a riveting family drama is played out by the characters of Ramon and Esperanza Quintero, a Mexican-American miner and his wife. In the course of the strike, Ramon and Esperanza find their roles reversed: an injunction against the male strikers moves the women to take over the picket line, leaving the men to domestic duties. The women evolve from men's subordinates into their allies and equals.”

31 31 Real Story “The Salt project was born when the filmmakers were told of a strike by Mexican-American mine workers against the Empire Zinc Corporation in Bayard, New Mexico. The issues at stake included racist "dual wage rates" that allotted higher pay to Anglo workers over Mexican-Americans, and Empire Zinc’s ‘policy of hiring only Mexican-Americans for underground work’. The film was scripted and shot on location in Bayard within months of the strike’s settlement. Workers and wives who had walked the picket lines took prominent roles in the movie and helped to shape Michael Wilson’s screenplay.” - Bob WakeBob Wake

32 32 Conditions of Production Written, Directed and Produced by Members of the “Hollywood Ten” –Declined to Testify Before the House Un- American Activities Committee –Biberman Spent 6 Months in Jail –Worked Independently to Beat the Blacklist Cast Included Actors and “Real” Folks –Mexican Star, Rosaura Revueltas –Miners and Wives

33 33 Harassment & Censorship Hollywood Reporter = “Commie Film” International Alliance of Theatrical Employees Made it Difficult to Hire Union Crews (one reported to be FBI Informant) Labs Refused to Process Film Exhibitors Refused to Screen It Rosaura Revueltas’s Visa Revoked

34 34 Confluence of Oppression Oppression of Workers Oppression of Mexicans and Chicanos Chicano Oppression of Women Click Here to See Scene from Salt of the Earth (1954)

35 35 Reinforces Solidarity Rich and Poor White and Brown Men and Women –Female Heroine Played by Mexican Actress –Chicano Lead Played by Real Miner Click Here to See Scene from Salt of the Earth (1954)

36 36 Thesis Chicano & Chicana Protagonists No Stereotypical Inversion No Undiminished Stereotyping No Overprotective Mama Father is Present Chicana is Present No Alluring but Flawed Anglo Woman No Reductive Definition of Success

37 37 Why? Political Film –Directed to Entertain –Directed to Make Viewer Think Critically Engages Complexity of Political Situation –Critique of Red Scare Ideology –Class Warfare (strike) –Race Oppression (Chicanos) –Gender Oppression (lead is a woman) Explanations Are NOT Reductive –Whites are Not Stereotyped –Men are Not Stereotyped

38 38 End of Lecture 6 End of Lecture 6 Next Lecture: How are Latinos/as Represented in the Western?


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