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ARTICLE: Who Exactly Is Living
La Vida Loca
?: The Legal and Political Consequences of Latino-Latina Ethnic and
Racial Stereotypes in Film and Other Media
* Associate Professor of Law, St. Thomas University, B.A., Lehman College, 1985; J.D., University of
Wisconsin, 1988. This work is dedicated in loving memory to Carmen Hernandez. Much thanks to the members of The
and enlightening conference I've attended. A very special thanks to my "little man," Christian Isaiah Roman, for his
love, laughter, and beautiful besos. Additional thanks to Professor Lenora Ledwon and Professor Alyce Jean Thomas
for their contribution.
... It's the "Latin Explosion' and it's got everybody "Livin'
La Vida Loca!
'" From the covers of national magazines
such as Newsweek, Time, People, and George to The Oprah Winfrey Show, popular culture is gushing over the
so-called "Latin boom.
... Accordingly, while stereotyping in film and other media may at first blush appear to be
innocuous, such metaphors as the hot-blooded lover, gang member or illegal immigrant help shape how society
perceives a group that it considers as outsiders, and thereby justifies treating such groups as different or foreign.
Obviously, Proposition 187, though facially neutral, centered on the issue of race and proponents gained support by
stirring the fear of the foreigner.
... The Supreme Court of California similarly observed that "persons of the Mongolian
race are not entitled to be admitted as citizens of the United States.
I. The Latin Explosion
""It's big!' they scream. "It's new!' they yelp. It's the "Latin Explosion' and it's got everybody "Livin'
La Vida Loca!
n1 From the covers of national magazines such as Newsweek,
to The Oprah
Winfrey Show, popular culture is gushing over the so-called "Latin boom."
This boom purportedly signals a change
for America. The popularly anointed
leader of this Latin revolution is Ricky Martin. With his splash at the 1999
Grammy Awards show,
where he performed Elvis-like gyrations with a Latin flavor and his number one hit Livin'
Martin has reportedly lead the cultural arrival of Latinas and Latinos.
Time magazine proclaimed, "Latin
Music Pops. We've seen the future. It looks like Ricky Martin. It sings like Marc Anthony. It dances like Jennifer
Lopez. (Que Bueno!"
In its Latin U.S.A. cover story, Newsweek declared, "Hispanics are hip, hot and making
George magazine noted "from the conga to NYPD Blue, from the catwalk to Congress, these Latinos have
made their mark."
Despite coverage that might at first blush appear to be celebratory, these national news magazines