4. Selena (Part I)

September 18:

FILM: Selena
READ: Kleinhans, Chuck. “Selena: ¡Siempre Selena!Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 42 (1998, 2006). Web.
DISCUSSION: Elizabeth Parsons & Jose Figueroa

Visiones: “Remembering Selena”
http://www.workingfilms.org/newfaces/video.php?vid=24&full_embed=true

 

Questions to Guide Discussion (feel free to branch out from these!)
1. How did Selena transcend her role as a Tejana singer to become a cross-cultural Latina icon?
2. In what ways are Jennifer Lopez and Selena similar? Was it a good decision to cast Jennifer as Selena? How would the movie have been different if a Mexican actress played Selena? Does it matter that Jennifer is not Mexican, as long as she plays the role well?

http://search.proquest.com/docview/222595090?accountid=14518&title=Jennifer+as+Selena%3A+Rethinking+Latinidad+in+Media+and+Popular+Culture#.UFf7D_uLRHc.twitter

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56 Responses to 4. Selena (Part I)

  1. morgankamm says:

    Selena transcended her her role as a Tejana singer to become a cross-cultural Latina icon by conforming to the norms of a cross-cultural society. She sang in English as well as in Spanish, and also dressed more of the part by wearing more seductive, elaborate and flashy outfits when she was on stage. Her fan base soon grew and she was no longer a local Latina singer in Mexico, she was a cross-cultural Latina icon to all Latin communities around the world.

    Jennifer Lopez and Selena were similar in the sense that they both were born and raised in the US by Latin Parents. However, Jennifer Lopez was of Puerto Rican decent and Selena was of Mexican decent. This raised a lot of controversy within the Mexican community. They did not agree with Hollywood that Jennifer Lopez accurately fit the Selena role. Mexicans were still very emotionally attached to Selena at the time of the movie, and they expected a true Mexican to play her part in order to accurately represent where she came from. I understand their viewpoint, but I also think that Jennifer Lopez did an amazing job and didn’t have to fake the Latina image, the dancing skills or the singing skills because they were all real.

    • alexismruiz says:

      Yes, the Mexican people were upset and thinking about the time since her death and limited potential actresses with the capabilities to play Selena, I think that no one would have been completely accepted to play someone of such prestige in their eyes. She was a model for their people and so I can understand why they would want someone that was shaped by the same background experiences and heritage that Selena was. I do however think that Selena was a very good choice.

      • carolynluby says:

        I think that the close proximity of Selena’s death to the production of the movie definitely could have a major factor behind the controversy regarding Jennifer Lopez’ heritage in comparison to Selena’s. However I would like to draw attention to gender dynamics that could be working behind the scene as well. Do you think that Lopez would have received the same criticisms if she was a Puerto Rican man playing the role of a famous Mexican latino? Or do you think her gender played a part in why she was under fire for this? Benicio Del Toro played Che Guevara and he is Puerto Rican, yet he did not receive the same type of heritage based criticism… could this be due to gender or due to the amount of time that passed between this movie and when che was in the spotlight? or both? just some food for thought

      • morgankamm says:

        Carolyn, you make a good point when you say that the Benicio Del Toro didn’t receive as much hate when he played Che Guevara but I do think it did have something to do with the death of Selena being so recent to the movie.

      • @carolynluby I think of gender playing a role in the Selena-Lopez contraversy. I do think that you are right. Yet another thing to take in is the differences between Che and Selena. Che was a revolutionary who faought for what he believed in whereas Selena was romanticized for being a singer who died young. Gender is important and sexism is prominent in Mexico, but people were mostly bothered because Selena did not look Mexican. Casting a non Mexican just reinforces the features that stood out from Selena, that were not the most “Mexican”.

      • alexandriagarry says:

        Carolyn, It is an interesting question to bring up. I think the proximity to Selena’s death and the production played a huge role in the public outrage, as for her gender, I am not sure.

      • Kelvin Li says:

        You can’t really compare Jennifer Lopez to Selena. They are both two different personalities who reach out to such a huge fan base. I would say Jennifer Lopez is more Americanized with her music, but you can say the same thing with Selena. She wanted to be more American and she got a lot of backlash for that. People wanted to control what she wore and did. You get the same thing for Jennifer Lopez because it’s a music industry. You have to play that off. You have be sexualized as you can tell by their posterior. I definitely think she was a good choice because she was a popular actress and people would pay to go see her. It’s all a marketing strategy, they’re not only trying to attract the Latin communities but also the non-Latin ones too. Most cultures don’t know who Selena was so they were trying to appeal to all audience, not just one. Jennifer Lopez was a good choice because of her global sensation that reached out to everyone everywhere.

    • Hailey Rosa says:

      The article about Frida revisits an old conversation the class had regarding what constitutes being a Latina. in addition, who is entitled to play Latina roles. Hayek notes that language is the central factor, “[language] differentiate[s] between real and fake Latinas (pg 96).” Hayek’s ability to speak Spanish fluently gives her privilege over other self proclaimed Latinas (like Jennifer Lopez). “For Hayek, her Mexican identity. Spanish fluency, and physical resemblence to Kahlo reinforce her ethnic authenticity (pg 96).”

      These factors, according to Hayek, give her a right to the role over other interested celebrities like Madonna and JLo. There was a large amount of literature to support JLo’s adaption of Selena. She asserts that “because they shared an ethnic identity… [and] common expierence of growing up Latina in this country (Negron-Muntaner 183). Hayek continues to criticize Lopez for her lack of Spanish fluency and false advertising as Latina. Is Hayek correct? Should Lopez have played this part?

      • Gillianna Mendoza says:

        To a certain extent, I agree with Salma Hayek in defining one’s self as a “Latina”. However, I think there is a much more definitive line when addressing celebrities than your everyday girl. Personally, I think a lot of J.Lo’s fame comes from her butt and her self acclaimed “Latinidad”. She chooses to call herself a Latina, who dyes her hair several shades of brown and blonde (we criticize Shakira for that, but what’s her natural color?), she doesn’t speak Spanish, but has the body and “culture” to call her self Latina in order to gain more popularity among fans for fame purposes. So based on this, I don’t think J. Lo was necessarily Selena’s twin and “made to play this role” per-say, but she did a great job doing it as an actress, which is what sells and deems success anyways.

    • Lucia Parisi says:

      I agree with you. I think JLo did a great job at playing Selena. The fact that she is Puerto Rican did not get in the way of her performance because ethnicity doesn’t matter when you are acting. The challenge of acting is to play someone that you are not and JLo successfully did this.

  2. Stacey Pecor says:

    Going off of the discussion question, I do believe it was a good idea to cast Jennifer Lopez as Selena. Although Selena was Mexican and Jennifer is from Puerto Rico, they share a similarity of being born and raised in the U.S. and aspiring to perform whether it was singing, acting or dancing. They both fall under the category of Latina’s, whether they spoke enough Spanish or not. I understand there are differences between a South American or Mexican or Puerto Rican so I am mindful of that,and therefore can definitely see where some conflict came from. Regardless of that, I think Jennifer displays a great representation of Selena. I can only imagine how much pressure Jennifer Lopez had on her to portray Selena to the Latin community and her fans. She definitely needed to be sensitive to peoples emotions because they were still hurt from her sudden death. Playing the role of Selena was a huge opportunity for her in Hollywood. It made her name bigger and even more known but she must feel so honored to have had that chance to play such a special singer like Selena.

    I don’t think the movie would have been any different if it were a Mexican actress instead. As long as she was qualified to fit the role of Selena whether what decent she came from. In my opinion it didn’t matter that Jennifer wasn’t of Mexican decent because she performed so well and I think all of her fans (Selena fans as well) can respect her for that.

    • alexismruiz says:

      I think that both Selena and Jennifer’s limited knowledge of Spanish also allows them to relate better. The struggle and attitudes were shared by them both and I think that it worth considering. Yes she was not Mexican-American but they did share similar stories that should be considered when we think of the actress that should have played Selena.

      • Lindsey Honig says:

        I definitely see where you’re going with this and I agree. The cultures of Puerto Rico and Mexico can be entirely different across many aspects. But when it comes down to Jennifer Lopez and Selena Quintanilla, they are individuals. If it is not fair to apply a stereotype to one person based on their background, then it is also not fair to make one person’s identity the identity for a whole people (although we saw that this began to happen with Selena). The two celebrities may have had more in common than Selena with any other actress- Chicana or otherwise.

      • Kelvin Li says:

        I can understand why the Mexican community was angry that Jennifer Lopez got cast to play Selena. They want someone that best represents them. I do think its because Selena was a huge role model and inspiration to everyone in that culture. They felt like it was stab in the back when Jennifer Lopez got cast because she wasn’t Mexican. They fail to realize that the filmmakers were trying to appeal to as many Americans as possible. They want to make them aware of Selena and how big she was. What’s funny to me is that the same people who criticized Jennifer Lopez playing Selena, loved her movie performance afterwards. So do they generalize and stereotype that a certain Hispanic can’t portray another one because they don’t have the background? I find it weird how people can discriminate within their own sub cultures. This is acting, people have to portray and play a certain role. That’s what they have to do, its not she’s planning on being Selena forever. But its the idea of how Jennifer Lopez can be represented just as well as the real Selena, so that people who haven’t heard of her get a glimpse to know what Selena was like.

    • joserfigueroa says:

      It’s kind of weird how similar Selena and Jennifer were. Both being Latina’s born in the United States, both not fitting the “norm” of what was accepted in Hollywood’s point of view. They also sort of helped each other in a sense. Selena’s death gave Lopez the opportunity to portray her and that movie made Lopez into the celebrity that she is today. Jennifer’s portrayal, in turn, kept Selena’s legend alive and introduced her to a whole new generation of fans. The two women helped each other, and both opened the doors to women of curves.

      • I agree with you and pretty much everyone who said Jennifer Lopez did a great job, even though she’s not mexican. Something I thought about is how enraged the Mexican community would have been if they used a non-mexican actress that wasn’t J-Lo. I think people fail to appreciate how spectacular of an actress she is. She is the ultimate Latina figure, and if it was anyone else playing the part, it would be even worse than the complaints we hear now.

      • briannamartone12 says:

        We need to think of Lopez as being suitable for taking on the persona of Selena because she was able to do it so perfectly. I also think that it was crucial they got someone who had curves because this was one of Selena’s most memorable features. This movie showed how there is more than one body type. Obviously, we are so used to seeing the same perpetuating image. There is rarely a broad spectrum of body images visible to audiences. In this aspect, this movie creating opportunity for change with this issue.

    • Caroline/a Nieto says:

      I agree completely with all of your ideas. Both of these women were brought up as Latinas in the US and because of this have a closer bond, because they both lived through the hardships of having to grow up in two different culture. Lopez was perfectly qualified for the part in the sense that she had gone through similar trails and tribulations growing up Latina in the states. She was a performer and latin and these connections are much stronger, in my opinion, then just being Mexican.

  3. alexismruiz says:

    Selena went from being a Tejana singer appealing to her Mexican/Mexican-American audience to appealing to audiences far beyond just that. She appealed to men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds. Yes, she changed her outfits and the language that she sang in but I think it was much more than that. I think that she was relatable. She appealed to all the women that were curvy. She was a role to Latina women in general and affected and influenced so many lives. She was much more than her stage presence. She was the words that she sang and the passion that she sang them with.

    Selena being played by Jennifer Lopez is what kept her memory alive for our age generation. I was so young when she died that I would not have really known and/or understood who Selena was had it not been for Jennifer Lopez. She relayed the message to the incoming generation and with that alone paid hommage to her and her legacy. She allowed her story to be told when Selena could no longer tell it so let’s not be so harsh on Jennifer.

    • I completely agree with everything you said here. Jennifer Lopez is the ultimate Latina icon, and it is foolish for people to be so harsh on her for playing the role of Selena so well.

      • carolynluby says:

        I agree that if the performance sold the role, the performer should be given more credit than criticism. Jennifer Lopez provided the opportunity for the story of Selena to be retold to future generations who never lived to see her alive, and Jennifers fame with that generation keeps Selenas fame alive as well.

    • briannamartone12 says:

      At the end of the day, we must understand that if someone is capable of representing a specific person the best, then they are the ones that should enact them. I also believe that since she resembled her so well that this helped us really understand Selena all the more. The fact that we associate Lopez with her is why we remember her so vividly. I think that if someone else that didn’t look like her was acting like her than we wouldn’t think of Selena in the same way. Criticism aside, Lopez should be praised instead of criticized for all that she did.

  4. To continue our discussion, I think Jennifer Lopez was the perfect fit for the part of Selena. There’s a reason they call these “actresses.” Although she is Puerto Rican and not Mexican, she did a great job “acting” as a mexican. In addition, it was the movie producers main priority to make money off of the movie, and there’s no better Latina candidate than Jennifer Lopez. As arguably the hottest Latina actress, she would surely bring in the most revenue for the film. I think we often forget the purpose of watching movies, which is simply to entertain us. In my opinion, the public often gets too critical, a perfect example being complaining that Jennifer Lopez is Puerto Rican and not Mexican, therefore she shouldn’t play the role as Selena. As long as the movie is enjoyable to its audiences, it shouldn’t matter whether the main character is Puerto Rican or Mexican.

    • Adam Lang says:

      I completely agree. An actor’s personal life should have no bearing on whether or not they are suitable for a role. Jennifer Lopez is a very talented actress and I think she did Selena’s story justice. The odds of finding an actress who looks like Selena, is of Mexican descent, and who would pull in as much revenue as an icon like Jennifer Lopez are very slim.

    • michaelpavia says:

      I also agree with the belief that Jennifer Lopez was the perfect fit for the part of Selena. As said above Jennifer Lopez is an actress, which is a woman who acts in a play, film, broadcast, etc. Even though her background is Puerto Rican her profession is acting and her ability to immerse herself in a role is the only true thing that should matter. At the time of the film Jennifer Lopez appeal as a Latina icon made her a clear choice. Looking at Jennifer Lopez as an actress and the financial outlook of the producers, she was probably the best choice to play Selena at the time.

    • briannamartone12 says:

      I find it hard to believe how much criticism that Lopez received from deciding to take on this role as an actress. She played this so good that it makes it almost unimaginable to think of anyone else doing so how she had. I think that sometimes we must overlook the fact that she does not share Selena’s identity to the extent that everyone would prefer. We must judge solely on the actress’s ability to portray Selena accurately and without hesitation I can say that Lopez did this. Also I think that if it wasn’t Lopez who was decided to do this, then it might not have impacted people how it did since often movies that do not have celebrities in them are not as popularly viewed.

  5. carolynluby says:

    Something that Selena inspired me to look into was how many lead Latino/ Latina actresses were seen in a lead role this year, 2012. I was quite surprised to find that virtually no Latina actresses were in a lead Latina role this year outside of the film “savages” which is a movie about the drug war. This film is a very stereotypical place to find Latina/o lead roles, what does that say about Latina representation in film today? Even the title of this film as savages makes is seem as though Latina/o actresses are playing into the same stereotypical roles as described in the Bronze Screen from decades earlier. I put the article here and I suggest everyone to read it, and pose this question: how can Latina representation in films increase? What can be done to promote not only lead Latina actresses in blockbuster hits in general but also about promoting Latinas in roles where they are not traditionally seen? How can their success bridge possible race/ gender limitations they encounter in Hollywood? The big blockbuster hit of the summer was Avengers, and there are a few side roles that latinos/as fill but how can we bring progress so that there can be a Latina superhero for a lead role? In the same way many actresses are often cast as different races would it be progressive or detrimental to see a Latina actress cast in a role as a previously defined white superhero? Or would the creation of a new Latino superhero be the only way to justly achieve this fair representation?

    http://www.sefijaonline.com/?p=5518

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      Since many superheroes are already defined and played by an Anglo, it is a bit difficult to get a Latin@ to get the main role. It is just tradition for the next Batman movie to be played by a person with similar characteristics as the previous actor. Even in the new Spiderman movie, the main character changed, its not the same nerdy white boy, now its a skateboarding white boy, but the features are very similar. I believe that the only way to change this is by creating new superheroes and making their traits and features match those of a Latin@. Maybe making a superman with darker skin. This is the only way that traditional looking Latin@s can get a main heroic part in a big action movie. Or we will see yet more Latin@s disguising themselves to look more mainstream, in order to get the main role.

      • Caroline/a Nieto says:

        I think that you interpretation is very interesting. It is necessary for serious stereotypes to be broken for Latino/a’s to have a chance at lead roles. It is unfair that only white anglo features and characteristics are the only things that can be seen as “super”. When thinking of any super heros of Latin decent, all I could think of was Zorro…. who is supposed to be Latin. I think race needs to be less of a deciding factor when it comes to super heros. I think batman would be just as bad ass if he were black, latino, asian- etc.

    • yininghe says:

      @Carolyn: You post some rather interesting questions! Your last question about the casting of a Latina actress as a previously white superhero vs. the original creation of a Latina superhero is interesting. I think that both have their limitations and problems with audiences. The former involves the co-opting of a previously mainstream superhero and changing her ethnicity. While it would be a step in the right direction, changing the ethnicity of a character just for the sake of representation would seem a rather token action. Does this change the characterization of the hero? If there are no changes, would the representation be so race-blind that it negates ethnic individuality and diversity? This might cause de-Latinization. Yet, the original creation of a Latina hero might pigeon-hole it to be ‘for’ Latino audiences, and prevent it from gaining mainstream attention. I think the best way possible is to create a character that is both of Latina descent and her own person, and relatable in very human and universal ways. This makes the ethnicity gap easier to bridge, so that audiences don’t just see a Latina on screen, but a fellow human being.

      @Ernie: The comic book industry has always been rather dominated by heterosexual white males, and it’s difficult to get any representation of minorities in there. Even representation is limited to minor characters or stereotypical roles. Hopefully, things are starting to change. For example, Miguel O’Hara is written by Marvel to be the future Spider-Man, and he’s Latino.

      Here’s a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Man_2099

    • joserfigueroa says:

      @Carolyn You bring up a great point, there are not many latino/as in leading roles. With this summers numerous blockbusters, one that sticks out to me is the character of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. In the comics, Bane is from south or central america and has a thick spanish accent. He also wears a traditional lucha libre mask to represent his culture. In the film adaptation, director Chris Nolan chose British actor Tom Hardy to depict the villain and ignored the character’s Latino background. Fans were upset, but not to the same degree as a Puerto Rican portraying a Mexican-American. This may tie into the fact that Tom Hardy is a man, who are given a different set of rules and who are not as criticized in the media.

  6. Lindsey Honig says:

    As we saw in the film, Selena’s celebrity extended beyond her original fan-base of Tejanos. By the end of her brief, yet successful career, she had captured the hearts of thousands of diverse Latinos and even mainstream audiences. I believe that she gained popularity because she was very relatable. She came from an average background- a working father trying to make it in America, a stay-at-home mom, and two siblings. Though she embraced her heritage, I think she also struggled with it in establishing her identity. She herself was not an immigrant, but was only a few generations removed from those in her family who were. This is probably something that many second- or third-generation Americans feel, and is something that translated through her songs and persona.

    I believe, then, that Jennifer Lopez was a good selection to be cast in the role of Selena. As a “Nuyorican,” she may have had similar experiences to Selena Quintanilla while growing up. Like the woman she portrayed, J.Lo has recorded music in Spanish and English throughout her career. In my opinion, her performance in the movie was strong. However, I do still understand and appreciate the criticism that a non-Mexican was cast. Lead roles are hard to come by for minority actresses, and the fact that this role was based on a real person is a double-whammy.

    This controversy has led me to wonder, if a Latina were cast to play a “real” European-American celebrity/historical figure, would it garner the same reaction from the public?

    • Mariah Monroe says:

      Lindsey, I agree with you. I think Selena was a very relatable artist for many second or third generation Americans. I also think her crossover from Trejano music to english songs was a huge milestone in her career. Selena was unique in that, at a time when many young artists were trying to blend into mainstream America, she used her diversity to her advantage. I think her uniqueness made her that much more special and interesting. Though she did conform to mainstream standards a little in clothing and appearance, she still remained Selena the lovely Latina songstress; her culture and heritage remained a huge part of her life.

    • Stacey Pecor says:

      Lindsey & Mariah you both make solid points. Being family oriented and relatable definitely made her a real success. Thinking of some of today’s celebrities and artists, Selena actually has real talent and could perform and sing well. It’s interesting to think about someone like Paris Hilton, who is famous through her family wealth with Hilton Hotels, even she has produced songs but in my opinion are awful. Selena was so much more of a likeable person because she was average, real and down to earth. (Not so consumed with wealth and fame).
      To answer your question Lindsey, if a Latina were to play a “real” European-American celebrity or historical figure, it would definitely have some sort of reaction. The media is always displaying the likes and dislikes or “who did it better” and there is always some sort of debate with this. I’m not sure if it would be the same reaction but people would probably criticize and say someone else should have done the role instead.

  7. joserfigueroa says:

    I grew up on Selena, and originally thought that Jennifer Lopez was Selena. I agree with everyone’s comments on Lopez keeping Selena’s memory alive. The film introduced the late singer to a whole new generation, and brought the singer a new group of fans. I also think Lopez was an excellent choice to play the Mexican-American Selena. Through out the film, Selena’s culture and history were never ignored and the Quintanilla family worked closely with Director Greg Nava. I looked at some of Selena’s old videos and compared them to the portrayl done by Lopez, and was amazed. Lopez brought a similar energy and charisma that the late singer exuded. I believe that fans would have criticized the movie even if the director chose a Mexican actress to portray Selena. No one could ever replicate a person, so who ever was given the task of bringing Selena to life would have received criticism.

    • stephaniegiannoutsos says:

      I also grew up on Selena and, if it wasn’t for JLo’s performance in this movie, a lot of our generation probably wouldn’t know who Selena was and wouldn’t recognize her music. My mom and I are obsessed with the movie and we make my younger cousins watch it too. (they know all of the songs and dance moves) So in this sense, JLo has definitely played a huge role in keeping the memories of Selena alive and has introduced Selena to a new/younger fanbase.

      • Hailey Rosa says:

        Before seeing this movie I had no idea who Selena was. My term project involves surveying people on which Latinas they can recognize by name or photo. As of now, celebrities such as Shakira and JLo have vastly surpassed Selena (most of those taking the quiz automatically assume its Selena Gomez). Do you think if we were targeting an older audience they would identify her more often? Do you think more people are able to identify Selena by her name or her picture?

  8. stephaniegiannoutsos says:

    I find this debate about whether JLo, a Puerto Rican-American, had the ability to portray Selena, a Mexican-American, very intriguing because I never thought of it as an issue. I grew up watching Selena with my mom who is Colombian, so I got a very different perspective of it all. My mom was always so proud to show me how successful and amazing both JLo and Selena were. She took pride in the fact that Selena and JLo were Latinas that had made it in America. It never mattered to her that Selena was Mexican-American and JLo was Puerto Rican-American. She was just simply proud that Latinas were represented in the media in a positive light and that her, as a Colombian-American, could closely identify with the stories of two successful Latin-American women.

    • joserfigueroa says:

      The Latino@ community should look at this debate the way your mother looked at it. Yes, all Latin@ groups differ from one another but there should still be a sense of unity. When I see a Latin@ in a position of power or glory, I feel proud because a fellow Latin@ made it. Instead of criticizing, I believe the Latin@ community should take pride in the fact that a Latina brought Selena back to life. We are all different, no matter what ethnicity we identify with.

      • Kiara Morales says:

        I agree with you whole heartedly. I grew up very up with the mindset that we are a community and every time I would watch Selena, it was great to see a latina on the big screen. I thought the discussion in class as to the debate of Jennifer’s heritage versus Selena’s coming into question when the film was being casted was a big ordeal was because Selena was such a huge symbol for the community. The movie went into production so close after her death, it was still very fresh in the minds of her audience.

  9. Katie Blake says:

    I think that it is irrelevant that Jennifer Lopez is Puerto Rican because when playing the role of Selena, she isn’t acting as Jennifer Lopez, she is acting as Selena. Therefore, it is more important that she can relate to Selena’s personality and lifestyle to portray Selena to the best of her ability. From what I have learned from class discussions and my own research online, I believe that Jennifer did try to do Selena justice by learning about her and spending time with her family so that she could portray her character accurately. In fact, I saw on this website ==>>:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120094/trivia <<== that she actually lived with Selena's family to learn more about the role.

    I also believe that it was a good choice to choose a more well-known Latina actress who might not look exactly like her or be from Mexico to play the role than a lesser known actress who might more closely resemble Selena and her background, simply because it will generate a larger audience so that more people will hear of Selena's story for generations to come. Although she wasn't that famous back then, the fact that she is a huge star now allows for people to continue to watch this movie for the first time to this day. If a less famous actress had played the role, this movie could have been long forgotten. I personally knew nothing of Selena before I saw this movie when I was a kid, and I probably only watched it because JLo was in it.

    • rserreti says:

      I agree with your statement above. Like you said, when playing the role of Selenda, Jennifer Lopez is not acting like Jennifer Lopez. Instead, she is doing her best to portay Selena as best as she can from what she knows about her. I also agree with you in saying that it was a good choice for Jennifer Lopez to be picked to play the role of Selena. If someone else were to be picked to play the role of Selena, I believe they would not have been as well known as Jennifer Lopez was after the movie.

  10. rserreti says:

    In my opinion, I believe that Jennifer Lopez and Selena were similair with one another. Although Jennifer Lopez was not the same descent as Selena was, Jennifer Lopez had similiar features. Like Selena, Jennifer Lopez had a curvy body. Jennifer Lopez also had the dark hair like Selena did. In my opinion, I believe that it was a good decision to cast Jennifer Lopez as Selena. I feel that it was a good decision to cast Jennifer Lopez as Selena because they were similar in many ways. Jennifer Lopez really played the part of Selena very well. I believe that if someone else were to play the role, they would not have been able to do as well as a job as Jennifer Lopez did.

    In my opinion, it does not matter that Jennifer Lopez was not Mexican. I believe that this does not matter because she still did a very good job at playing the role of Selena. Even though Jennifer Lopez was not Mexican like Selena was, she still did a very good job at depicting herself as a Mexican. She was able to speak and look exactly how Selena was. Not only did she look like Selena and speak like her, she was able to sing and perform the songs that Selena wrote. Because of this, it does not matter that Jennifer Lopez was not Mexican.

    • briannamartone12 says:

      I could understand why Mexicans might have been upset that a woman with a Puerto Rican Identity was casted but I also believe that Jennifer Lopez was such a good choice for playing Selena as well. We have to remember that the person they chose had to be able to sing and Jennifer Lopez although might not have sounded exactly like Selena, was still able to sing and represent Selena. We have to realize that because they both shared very similar body types was also a good reason why Jennifer Lopez was picked to play this role. Many people seem to not even be able to really see distinct differences in appearance between Jennifer and Selena. I think that majority of the audience watching this film was able to commend Lopez on doing a phenomenal job. i think Selena was a film that showed the story of Selena’s upbringing as well as music career and Lopez is someone who can relate to her and portray her story very well.

  11. briannamartone12 says:

    We have to understand and respect why Mexicans were unhappy with a Puerto Rican being casted to play the role of Selena. Selena was more than a singer to the Mexican community. She was a cultural icon who represented their identity as a whole. Selena showed that it was possible to rise through adversity and make your place in the world. She became the image of her people. Selena represented her culture and in order to understand why Mexicans might have been upset, we need to understand what Selena meant to them.

    I also think that Jennifer Lopez received some of the negative feedback when she shouldn’t have about why she was chosen for this role when she wasn’t a Mexican. Lopez was just another person who was trying to make her money and get by in the industry. I think if anyone of us were given the opportunity to play Selena, we would have took it regardless if we were Mexican. This film created an opportunity for Jennifer Lopez to be heard and really prove her acting skills. It also started her career and created many future opportunities for her.

    I felt that Jennifer Lopez had to keep on defending herself and prove why she deserved to play this role, when she really is just someone who saw this as an opportunity and a way to make money. We have to understand the reasoning behind why Jennifer Lopez would be picked. It is to our understanding that she was already popular and she represented Selena in features that others might have not. I personally rather see someone who looks much like Selena, than someone play her just because they share the same identity as a Mexican. But yet again, I am not a Mexican and I am sure if I was, I would probably be a little upset to that someone who is so important to me and my culture wasn’t even Mexican when shown in film. It is important that no matter our opinions, we look at this situations from both points of view.

    • Adam Lang says:

      I completely agree that it is best to look at this issue from both sides. Making money is a big motivator behind the creation of a movie. Putting Jennifer Lopez in the movie would have made it an instant hit based on name recognition alone. Mexican people can also be understandably upset by the fact that Jennifer Lopez is not Mexican and portraying someone who represented them.

  12. morgan radin says:

    As a completely different idea, I have noticed many connections between the story of Selena’s rise to fame and that of many other female American pop singers. Specifically, Jessica Simpson and Brittany Spears. Although they are both blonde, white, sexual icons, their climb to the top of the charts was very similar to that of Selena. They both came from very family oriented beginnings, starting off in the musical worlds at a very young age, and were both encouraged by their parents. After some struggles and pitfalls within the industry, they become more adult and sexualized. They reached stardom once they became teenage women baring their midriff, similar to Selena. Both of these two starlets have since fallen out of the spotlight, however at their primes, they could potentially have been American role models for Selena.

    The only reason this thought is interesting is if you compare these two American stars to that of Selena who was a star of another ethnicity. What role did her background, culture, and ethnicity play? How different was her family from the Simpson’s or Spears’? Where their values different?
    I can not say for sure how different their individual stories are from one another, but the two white, American sexualized women are still somewhat in the media, whereas Selena is not. This may seem harsh to say because Selena was murdered, but would this have happened if she was a star of another ethnic background?

  13. jessicadiaz009 says:

    I think that this movie did a lot of great things for Selena and the affected communities (Latino, Hispanic, Mexican, American, etc). For one, it put a Mexican woman’s name on the tip of everyone’s tongue and I think that its not important for anyone to have even heard of her beforehand because regardless they knew her after her death. Of course it would have helped her personal career while she was alive, put I think its much more important to focus on the impact she had on the word afterwards. I can understand the disgruntle of the Mexican people over a non-Mexican to play the role of the singer, but to have a Latina play the lead role shows growth in a culture that lacks a proper education in understanding other’s values. I think that it was just the beginning though, more and more artists and actors and actresses should use this forefront to work the back curtain of their own careers. and furthermore this is should have inspired thousands and thousands of minority children and teens who could finally witness the success of someone who was just like them. With this push, minority communities must come together and demand high standards for their work, and hopefully in another ten years we will see growth in our American culture.

  14. I think the real question is, how did Selena an American singer transcend to become a cross-cultural Latina icon? We must recall that Selena did not always identify with her Mexican\Chicano\Tejano roots. She barely spoke the language nor did she appreciate Tejano music. If it weren’t for her father and her mother’s encouragement she would’ve probably persisted with other predominantly American or Gringo genres. The more popular she became within the Mexican and American community the more her costumes changed. At the beginning she would where a lot of ruffles and flowers in her hair, like a stereotypical Latina artist. Her costume choices reflected the community she performed for. Once she started signing in Spanish (with difficulty) she proceeded to earn the creditability among Latinos.

    After Selena had that population she began to sing more songs in her preferred styles. She also wore less and less ruffles. It was almost a subconscious effort to appear like the born and raised American that she is. Even her boyfriend a Tejano leaned more toward his American roots. It was evident in his music and clothes as well. He was a rocker and wore rocker type clothes. It seems to me that the efforts of becoming a Tejano singer are what opened the door her music becoming cross-cultural. It can also be that her music became worldly accepted after the movie came out posthumously. So in that perspective one could possibly say that her worldwide fame was due to the success of the movie.

  15. Yining He says:

    Comparisons between Frida, Real Women Have Curves and Selena in class today revealed that as compared to Frida, Selena might present a character or journey that is very flat, predictable and perhaps even stereotypical. I agree to a large extent. Frida is such an interesting character and personality that it’s difficult to pigeon-hole her and she’s incredibly dynamic to watch on-screen. In comparison, Selena might be too fit to the American dream, too ideal, too much like a dream girl fairytale.

    However, I think it is important not to dismiss Selena as a milestone, or overlook its value and role in the Latino community. Selena’s story is a traditional one. It’s a coming of age story, the story of a dreamer, and the success of such a dreamer. It’s seen often in Hollywood cinema and canonical literature. The coming of age story is called a bildungsroman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bildungsroman), commonly seen in literature – Pip in Dickens’ Great Expectations, Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield, etc. And the thing about these main characters is that they are usually white males.

    For such a story to be featured on a figure such as Selena – at once a woman and Latino – is actually quite a great thing, and should not be overlooked. It might be fairytalesque, it might be Hollywood glamor, but the fact is it is co-opting the figure of Selena into a mainstream narrative, and I feel like that should be celebrated.

    • Skylar Smith says:

      This conversation in class definitely caught my attention as well. I agree how the movie “Selena” definitely seemed too good to be true. It was portrayed as such a fairy type tale. But at the same time, it is definitely important to realize that Selena did go through hardships and had a lot of determination to get to where she got. She had that fairytale dream of becoming a success and that is something to commemorate her for.

      • Kiara Morales says:

        The movie was a great story but not quite realistic in the fact that we never got to see the girl behind the stage. It made me sad to think of Selena of the girl who was always this stage figure. The movie very much like a fairy tale as you say, because as we read in the article, Selena did deal with issues that we didn’t see in the movie, such as body image issues that are expunged in the film. While I love the movie, it always leaves me wondering, if there was more to the story.

    • joserfigueroa says:

      I agree that the film Selena was a milestone for Latinas and for women in general but compared to other Latinas that we have studied, the film, in my opinion, did not do justice in bringing Selena to life. Selena’s life was so interesting and complicated, with her relationship with her husband, her personality and her death. The film attempts to make Selena seem like the perfect fairy tale story but doesn’t give audiences a sense of the issues that truly affected the late Tejana singer. This film brought attention to both Selena and Jennifer Lopez, but didn’t show us the multiple identites that made Selena who she was.

  16. Kelvin Li says:

    “The family theme anchors the SELENA narrative. And thus the film exudes positive “family values.” Indeed SELENA is a (rare) classic example of the “positive image” film. It depicts Selena as a thoroughly admirable human being” (Kleinhans). This is important because we know that a stereotype of Latin communities is that they are very family oriented. You can clearly see that a lot in the movie. Wherever Selena went, they went to. I think because she represented them as a family, she would be looked down upon if she went against them. There were a couple of times in the movie where she went against her father. She would give her family a bad name because of her actions. That’s how they felt. They were very family oriented and that was positive because they kept each other close to one another. This is a huge stereotype for Latin people because they want to take care of their family and be able to provide for them.

    You can see that in Betty as well. She is very family oriented. Her success is through her family because they tell her to push herself and go for her dreams. There were times where Betty wanted to give up. There’s a episode where Betty gets a Gucci bag and ends up selling it to pay for her dad’s medication. So its definitely a huge part of Hispanic culture. Everyone is so close, whereas you see white families being portrayed as dysfunctional. You don’t see them being very family oriented. You see the daughter always disobeying her parents. Her parents constantly fight with one another. It’s chaotic, they don’t get along. This is positive, mainly because it shows Latin families to be so close. I think it unites everyone together and portrays them as a whole. Because family gives them values and it makes them who they are. I have learn that when a child is raised in a good home, they turn out good. I think that’s why you see Latin families so loving and caring. They were raised right, if the family was dysfunctional nobody would listen. So I always think its good that they show the family aspect for Latin cultures.

  17. Selena had to mold to what her main audience wanted to see to gain international stardom. Celebrities must make a lot of sacrifices, and one is giving up some of their heritage/background to take on a different persona. It is up to the individual what extent of their real self will stay in tact, and how much will be changed.

    I think Jennifer Lopez was a good fit for the role because she understands the Latina family structure. I don’t think it really matters that she from a different country, because the cultural aspects within their families are similar.

  18. In Repsonse to:

    Kiara Morales says:
    December 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    The movie was a great story but not quite realistic in the fact that we never got to see the girl behind the stage. It made me sad to think of Selena of the girl who was always this stage figure. The movie very much like a fairy tale as you say, because as we read in the article, Selena did deal with issues that we didn’t see in the movie, such as body image issues that are expunged in the film. While I love the movie, it always leaves me wondering, if there was more to the story.

    -I agree with Kiara that part of the story was missing, but this movie was intended for the mainstream audience. If it were an independent documentary, I think the writers could have added more of the true story.

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