Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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In Other News

We're back from Switzerland, and have been too busy for a blogging. Jon has had time to Blog about Bern, complete with pictures.

I, on the other hand, have not quite begun to blog. Jon has helped me create a new blog, a travel log, into which I plan to enter my journals from Switzerland. I understand why so many writers went to Switzerland -- it is, indeed, very inspirational. I have written a great deal, but between the price of Internet access (US$16 per hour!) and the length of the transcription... well, I'll be working on it today.

Other thoughts I've been meaning to Blog:

Fox is starting a new reality TV show, Urban Jungle. Think of it as The Good Life meets Survivor in the Barrio. As I told Jon, I didn't think poking fun at Ghetto Olympics was that funny when Spike Lee did it (I'm Gonna Get You Sucka).

And though I'm glad to see some Hispanic faces on TV, I much prefer NBC's locally produced Hispanics Today, even though it barely scratches the surface of Latino life. At least its fluffy features incorporate success story -- after success story -- after success story.

If NBC can produce a show about one of its elite (if not elite, at least wealthy), why can't Si TV (a new, english-language network geared toward an Hispanic audience) follow suit with reality shows about the mayor of Miami, or the First Lady of Florida, or Benjamin Bratt? (Yes, BB's one of ours.) Or, perhaps, just maybe a show about a latino TV producer and those who built a new TV network from scratch. Just a thought.

I'm just worried about TV's ubiquitous pandering to the lowest common denominator in the search of the almighty dollar. By choosing the Barrio, they hope, I suppose, to add an element of danger and Jerry Springer-like surprise that will lead to a ratings bonanza, that will lead to commercial sales, in turn plumping up their pockets so that they can continue to finance the new venture. In an odd way, I'd like to see Si TV succeed, make cash, and lift itself up into more intellectual fare. I can only hope they manage not to reinforce stereotypes perpetuated by other media, but show that a purely hispanic community in the US is full of verve, hard work, and family.

But I doubt that will sell.

I guess I'll just have to watch and wait.

I'm just hoping that the show will refrain from reinforcing certain stereotypes, such as viewing Hispanics as an immigrant population, an effect which is likely if you limit the scope to the barrio. In fact, the Spaniards "discovered" this place. Ok, ok, discover is a bad word in this context. But, together with the native population, they created a new heritage, the mestiza, criollo, and mullatto blendings that have become Hispanics. The point is, we have been in the neighborhood since way before the U.S. manifested its destiny, but are still viewed as an immigrant population. The setting of Urban Jungle is likely to reinforce all the types that go along with that -- huge families, lack of education or ability to speak English, etc.

This show, apparently, intends well, but its creator is also immersed in the stereotyping of the world which he has internalized:

Show creator and Sí TV co-founder Jeff Valdez noted, “This is more than just a reality show, it’s a social experiment. We’re taking these kids, whose only window into the barrio is a crime story on the late night news, and immersing them into a brand new environment. This show will humanize the Latino barrio and hopefully teach these kids a thing or two about life on the other side of the tracks.” (From the Article.)

"Other side" of what tracks? Those that seperate you from me?


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