I've been reading and hearing a great deal about stats and facts about Latinos: culture, identity, buying power, spending habits, and how Hollywood and brands have been trying to figure us out for quite some time now. The discussion is reaching a fever pitch. Repetitive level: ad nauseam.
I'm sure many of you have read them; the new studies about how much media we consume, about our over-indexing in social media, about our high theater attendance, and so on. But how many solutions have you seen? How many of those Latino experts are proposing anything that's going to actually bring a decent return? I have yet to see one.
Some of you are sending us to school. Totally fine. Commendable. You are appreciated. Thank you. We need to learn our craft and step our game up. But where do we get money, where do we get funding, who's going to bankroll our content? What will happen once we're out of school? What about the great deal of folks who already went to school and can't find work or funding? Riddle me that?
We're not going to change the way Hollywood does business and the mentality of consumers. Por Dios. That's ridiculous. Latino studios will come and go trying to find this phantom niche audience. Good luck with the ratings of your Latino English-speaking network, buddy. However, we need these networks to at least employ our people and give us options. At least until things get better because the ratings ... ni hablar.
To make things even more mediocre, there are folks who have been arguing for decades, yet again, for us to create work that resonates with Latinos. As if the work that's been pushed out by Hollywood doesn't already. Like we need the special treatment. Make no mistake: it comes with accusations of entitlement, doubts about our competency, and resentment from those who have given us opportunities, just to have us squander them.
How about equal treatment? How about including us in mainstream? What are "our stories," anyway? How can we push for and rebuke (at the same time) stereotypical work? Cognitive dissonance, anyone? You don't make sense. Please disappear in a puff of logic.
Filmmaker Hugo Fernandez aptly sums it up for us:
"It's like we're only worth telling our stories to our own people. We're not worthy of mainstream. Or we just crumble when we know white execs cannot risk budgets over 60 million for projects with too many faces of color in. But the truth is they WILL take the risk for many audience 'limiting' aspects to projects for less than that," he says.
BOOM! Read it again.
UPLIFTT writer, John Anthony, is echoing what few of us are getting hip to; that Latino experts, marketers, and the data pushers are completely missing/dismissing: great solutions.
"The only way Latinos are going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I hate to say this, is by main-streaming their creativity," he says.
"Yes, we need to tell our stories and one way to do that is to take on more mainstream entertainment; once the big money is made, there will be enough to finance smaller but more significant artistry," continues John.
Now we're sharing a brain. Don't resist. It's futile. Join the collective. The time is nigh for the Latino Singularity to go into effect. See what I did there? A Gene Roddenberry and Vernor Vinge's reference. Nice.
Anyway, I love how experts like to pit Spanish networks with English ones. There are numerous things that are wrong with that: Spanish speakers have few options, they like to watch what's familiar, they're mostly of the first generation. The networks need to stop looking for programming that appeals to the Latino demographic. Instead, they should just look for appealing programming and put Latinos in front and behind the camera. It's that terribly simple.
"Load mainstream projects with Latino actors and actresses. For example, when they made the Manchurian Candidate, Frank Sinatra's character was played by Denzel. It didn't change the characters identity, just how he was presented," says John Anthony.
"The same with the Shawshank Redemption. In the book and during casting, the character of Red was supposed to be an Irish white guy with red hair and freckles. They let Morgan Freeman read for the hell of it and of course he's awesome so he got the part. It didn't change the character or what he did, it just put a different driver in the seat of the same car. That's how I believe Latinos can breakdown the walls of Hollywood and dominate the markets," he adds.
There it is. Simple. There are a great deal of qualified Latino filmmakers and content creators out there. Let's find them and fund their work. With money. Not just promises. Now the question is: name the Latinos who are writing highbrow mainstream content that will bring good ratings and a decent return? I know of a few besides Alfonso Cuarón and Roberto Orci. Come and talk to me.