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Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema

Chon A. Noriega
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Shot in America
    Book Description:

    Noriega offers a compelling and detailed description of an enormous body of work by Chicano media makers against the backdrop of Chicano social movements, politics, and activism over a forty-year period—an extraordinary exposition of the civil rights movement, media reform activities, and public affairs programming that constitutes the prehistory of independent and minority cinemas._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8801-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xxiii-xxxiv)

    They’ve told me their stories, again and again. Their words wash over me like water, cleansing me to the soul; but I can never quite remember them. So I bring a tape recorder, take notes, photocopy documents, dub videotapes, and place their artifacts into the archive. I listen, again and again, each time fulfilled, but whenIspeak another story emerges, one filled with paradox, irony, and ambivalence. Even if I believe in the political poetics of their story—because it does speak against the historical and ongoing subjugation of the Mexican-descent population in the United States—my own story...

  7. one “No Revolutions without Poets” Chicano Poetic Consciousness
    (pp. 1-15)

    One of the distinctive features of the Chicano civil rights movement has been what Tomás Ybarra-Frausto calls its “poetic consciousness,” a phenomenon found not just in the ubiquitous poetry of the times, but in the broader function of poetry as a medium for fostering a social movement as well as the development of Chicano studies itself.¹ As Rudolph la Garza and Rowena Rivera explained, “These early writings, most of which are poetry, are closely related to the rise of Chicano militancy. They served to feed the movement and were the medium through which Chicanos became politically aware and active.”²...

  8. two Setting the Stage Social Movements, the State, and Mass Media
    (pp. 16-27)

    I Am joaquinis symptomatic of the struggle for Chicano self-representation within film and television, both as an organizing tool and as a means of representing the Chicano movement to a national audience. But more structural changes came about as a result of the combined efforts of social protests, federal regulation, and foundation initiatives. Widespread Chicano protests against film, television, radio, and print media started in 1968, drawing upon diverse sectors of the Mexican American community in order to address issues of media portrayals, industry employment, and community access to mass communication. These efforts involved older civil rights groups formed...

  9. three “The Stereotypes Must Die” Social Protest and the Frito Bandito
    (pp. 28-50)

    In the fall of 1968, Chicano groups in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio initiated protests against advertisers, television networks, and the film industry, charging them with disseminating derogatory stereotypes against Mexican Americans, Mexicans, and other Latino groups. In particular, activists objected to media portrayals of Mexicans as “stupid, shiftless, dirty, immoral, and lackey-bandito types.”¹ By the spring of 1970, the growing protests would also be directed against the Academy Awards, industry guilds, and television stations, while the Department of Justice—after public hearings by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—negotiated an equal-employment plan signed by seventy-two movie...

  10. four Regulating Chico The Irony of Approaching a State-Supported Industry
    (pp. 51-74)

    By the time Frito-Lay finally dropped the Frito Bandito campaign in the summer of 1971, Chicano media groups had proliferated along with the available strategies and government agencies they now used to demand access to the mass media. Demanding access was no simple matter, especially insofar as “access” meant something different to each of the parties involved: equal opportunity for Chicano media groups, regulation for the state, and a concession for corporate interests. The word “concession” carries several conflicting meanings, all of which pertain here: something conceded, something granted by a government for a specific purpose, and the privilege of...

  11. five Grasping at the Public Airwaves The FCC and the Discourse of Violence
    (pp. 75-99)

    One of the central paradoxes of broadcast policy has been the “public interest” standard that secures FCC authority in the first place. The FCC regulates on behalf of the “public interest” primarily through licensing, which grants broadcasters free and exclusive use of a specific frequency for a three-year period (now five years), and rulemaking, which directs broadcast station operating procedures. But rather than signal a dynamic between representational and corporatist politics, the “public interest” standard subordinated the legal status of the airwaves as both public property and basic infrastructure to a policy arena defined in terms of commercial interests. In...

  12. six Training the Activists to Shoot Straight A Political Generation in U.S. Cinema
    (pp. 100-130)

    Between 1968 and 1973, media trainee programs and film school admissions policies brought Chicano student activists into the “industry” within the context of the ongoing Chicano civil rights movement. These programs were notable for being multiracial, bringing together mostly working class students who often had limited interaction with other racial groups and limited experience with higher education. These students did not know the “class” codes—that is, the confluence of social class and the classroom—that made professional training as much an issue of social networking as of acquiring technical expertise. Furthermore, because their access to higher education was secured...

  13. seven “Our Own Institutions” The Geopolitics of Chicano Professionalism
    (pp. 131-164)

    In his report on the Civil Rights Media Hearings in October 1976, Felix Gutiérrez concluded, “The tactics of the late ’60s and early ’70s have run their course.”¹ This assessment was echoed by David Morales in his review of Chicano media reform activities, who noted that “since 1973, not only has there been a change in the attitude of government towards community access, but there was also a change in the attitude of the Chicano community towards institutional change.”² Morales, writing for the Committee for the Development of Mass Communications in El Paso (established in 1970), described the dilemma facing...

  14. eight This Is Not a Border From Social Movement to Digital Revolution
    (pp. 165-194)

    While the Chicano media strategy developed by the mid-1970s continues to the present, numerous changes have made it an increasingly rhetorical one that fails to account for either individual careers or institutional operations. The rhetorical appeal to a “revolutionary” Latin America no longer works as part of a strategy to secure U.S. public funding, in large part because of the rise of aggressive neoliberalism or market-driven policies throughout the hemisphere. Furthermore, during the 1980s, the so-called Decade of the Hispanic, public funding sources, which had been the mainstay of Chicano-produced film and video, were cut back under the Reagan and...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 195-202)

    If, as Lourdes Portillo argues, “your limitations are infinite, not your possibilities,” she does not mean that there are no possibilities. Chicano filmmakers and media activists exemplify the complex and even paradoxical search for possibilities in the face of infinite limitations.

    In this book, I have focused on Chicano cinema as it relates to television, media reform, and state regulation, considered in the contexts of social movements and professionalism. But there are more histories to be told, histories that account for other texts and practices. These include feature films drawing upon a range of financial sources: Mexico’s state-controlled industry in...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 203-250)
  17. Filmography
    (pp. 251-256)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-286)
  19. Index
    (pp. 287-306)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-307)