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Media Snacks 1


I honestly don't know what to call this post. I just wanted a space to share some of my thoughts on the media I consume on a regular basis. Every year I do a wrap-up up which began as a way to share my Spotify Wrapped for the year. It evolved into sharing all media that I remembered / that stuck with me. It always is a fun way to reminisce the year, integrating other happenings and highlights throughout the year.


In my 2023 (un)wrapped I went on a tangent speaking to Our Flag Means Death. It reminded me of a DEI speech Taika had given, which led to writing about America Ferrera given her immense success and continued conversations about DEI throughout all of her media profiles. I realized I was missing this release of digesting and sharing my thoughts about the media I was consuming.


There's a lot of fear in sharing my point of view online. Whether it's a wrong take, hurts anyones feelings, or later that I disagree with whatever I've written. It's permanent. What is giving me courage is having been in the industry for over 5 years now, being a life-long pop culture fan, and by being an avid listener to podcasts like Las Culturistas and Vibe Check which have hosts that all share their takes with confidence, but with space for further understanding. So yeah, here I go.


LISTENING



Hyphenated is a podcast hosted by two lovely Latinas Joanna Hausmann and Jenny Lorenzo. I love them because they didn't know each other well before the podcast started, yet they have this natural chemistry. They both have pretty different backgrounds, Jenny being Cuban and grew up in Miami, while Joanna is Venezuelan and Jewish and grew up between Boston and Caracas.


In February, they spoke on Griselda, the latest Netflix series focusing on drug cartels. It feels like there is a new series released every year relating to Latin America and drugs ever since Narcos (almost 10 years ago!!). It is one of the sad stereotypes the community still faces, yet the public eats it up. Crime dramas will always be popular - among all audience demos they remain relevant and popular, so it's not a surprise that these stories are compelling to watch.


Now, transparently, I haven't watched Narcos or Griselda..or any drug-related drama as they're not my thing (I subscribe to How To Catch a Smuggler instead). I also felt differently about this topic before listening to this podcast. Griselda stands out because of how it was rooted in a Latin American cast and crew. Even Sophia Vergara mentions how she'd love for the show to have the impact on this cast in the same way Modern Family positively boosted her career. Narcos gave us Pedro Pascal. Yes, he was in Game of Thrones prior, but he expanded beyond the realm of fantasy to drama with the success of Narcos. That captures a massive, expanded audience which gave him opportunities to continue his success and way of storytelling.


The drug stories possibly bring more Latinos into the industry. The issue comes if we are stuck in the crime drama genre for another 10 years. I don't think we will be though. We have already expanded to goth girls, crazy but fun abuelas, type-A detectives, and This Fool.


This brings me to negative or stereotypical portrayal of characters and therefore communities: The point of representation is to tell all of the stories and to showcase flawed, real characters. If you can imagine Latinos as drug lords, they can also be anything else (re: the list above). What matters is that there is a mix of representation across genres and storytellers such as writers, showrunners, directors, etc. It doesn't always have to be culturally specific, but sometimes the specificity makes for better TV (re: Issa's quote below). That's where we're lagging.



READING




Issa Rae calling out the business of the entertainment industry while starting her own studio in South LA. A queen!!


Issa is not only an amazing source of creativity and Black storytelling, but an amazing agent of fostering, developing, and economically supporting Black stories. She began her career creating YouTube videos, finding a way to integrate filmmaking, directing, and writing in her dorm. She was also around for a very specific moment in YouTube's history and built something special. With Insecure, she built on similar themes from her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl.


What's special about Issa is that she didn't stop there. Her guiding principle is to support her community and uplift other Black creators. She produced Rap Sh!t on Max with a first-time showrunner, she has a production company, music label, and even coffee shops. It's already a huge challenge to get where Issa is at, but the way she creates space for others is admirable and unique. It's something other (cough older) filmmakers forget to do.


Loved this quote and absolutely real read on the industry right now:


Rae believes there’s no way Rap Sh!t, with its culturally specific lens, local bent, and unabashed raunchiness, would have been greenlit by WarnerMedia today, as all executives seem to want, she says, is safe, “universal” stories.


Its cancellation is just one example of what Rae sees as a larger withering of promises Hollywood executives made in 2020 toward increasing diversity and representation, both on- and off-screen. “There is a bitterness of just like, who suffers from you guys pulling back? People of color always do,” she says.



WATCHING




The first woman to wear PANTS on television on the Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961. What an icon. I have been telling everyone this fact, thinking it is the most insane thing, only to remember that it was 60+ years ago, so maybe not that crazy. I find it fascinating, especially after watching Being the Ricardos and learning that it was controversial to show a pregnant woman on TV in 1953, so much so that even though Lucille Ball was able to work in the pregnancy in the show, they never say 'pregnant' in an episode. Wild.


Back to Mary Tyler Moore - her self-titled show in the 1970s was a great foundation for future women-led sitcoms, like my fave Queen Latifah and cast in Living Single (don't come for me for this take), as Mary's character was career-driven and wasn't married. I also love that in her personal life, after being in 2 marriages since she was 18, she became single for the first time and a New York socialite in her 40s. Then, she later spent her retired time at a farm upstate. She was so different than the characters she portrayed on screen, yet brought warmth and collaborated on everlasting work.


 

There you have it! First of many weekly wrap ups (or possibly only one)

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