Dangerous Curves

Dangerous Curves: Latina Bodies in the Media

Isabel Molina-Guzmán
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Dangerous Curves
    Book Description:

    With images of Jennifer Lopez's butt and America Ferrera's smile saturating national and global culture, Latina bodies have become an ubiquitous presence. Dangerous Curves traces the visibility of the Latina body in the media and popular culture by analyzing a broad range of popular media including news, media gossip, movies, television news, and online audience discussions.Isabel Molina-Guzman maps the ways in which the Latina body is gendered, sexualized, and racialized within the United States media using a series of fascinating case studies. The book examines tabloid headlines about Jennifer Lopez's indomitable sexuality, the contested authenticity of Salma Hayek's portrayal of Frida Kahlo in the movie Frida, and America Ferrera's universally appealing yet racially sublimated Ugly Betty character. Dangerous Curves carves out a mediated terrain where these racially ambiguous but ethnically marked feminine bodies sell everything from haute couture to tabloids.Through a careful examination of the cultural tensions embedded in the visibility of Latina bodies in United States media culture, Molina-Guzman paints a nuanced portrait of the media's role in shaping public knowledge about Latina identity and Latinidad, and the ways political and social forces shape media representations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-5954-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Mapping the Place of Latinas in the U.S. Media
    (pp. 1-22)

    If the 1980s was, as media marketing professionals declared, the decade of the Hispanics, then Latinas have so far owned the new century.¹ Demographic shifts along with the globalization of deregulated media markets have dramatically increased the number of Latina/o media outlets, advertising dollars, and focus on Latina/o audiences.² For instance, while overall U.S. advertising revenue declined sharply after the September 11 terrorist attacks, spending on advertisements in Latina/o media has steadily increased, although it still remains a small segment of the overall market.³ In particular, advertising and marketing professionals have increased their focus on 18- to 34-year-old Latinas, who...

  5. 1 Saving Elián: Cubana Motherhood, Latina Immigration, and the Nation
    (pp. 23-50)

    I begin this book by examining the journalistic production of Latinidad in the mainstream and ethnic U.S. news media.¹ Although media scholars often pay attention to the social or political role of news in influencing attitudes and behavior, little attention is given to the cultural function news performs. Within the media landscape, news is the privileged site of information for public sphere debates about immigration and citizenship. However, in this chapter I propose that news plays other equally essential roles. As Barbie Zelizer suggests, the news media are storytellers, and as storytellers they document and speak to contemporary anxieties about...

  6. 2 Disciplining J.Lo: Booty Politics in Tabloid News
    (pp. 51-86)

    The Elián controversy might be one of the most covered Latina/o news stories in U.S. history, but few Hollywood bodies are as anthologized in the academic and popular press as that of U.S.-born Puerto Rican actor/singer/designer/restaurateur Jennifer Lopez.¹ In 2004, theNew York Daily Newsnoted Jennifer Lopez could win an “Editors’ Choice Award” for getting the most coverage that year in celebrity tabloids (People,Us Weekly,Star,in Touch). That year Lopez appeared on twenty-nine tabloid covers for a total of 14 percent of the issues, more than Jennifer Aniston and the Olsen twins.² The following year,Forbesmagazine...

  7. 3 Becoming Frida: Latinidad and the Production of Latina Authenticity
    (pp. 87-118)

    Central to mainstream media representations of Latinidad is the production of ethnic authenticity, of an authentic ethnic or panethnic identity often grounded in familiar and marketable characteristics. Furthermore, media produced by U.S. ethnic and racial minorities equally depend on a mode of “strategic essentialism” to produce authenticity. In the next two chapters, I build on Juana María Rodríguez’s discussion of strategic essentialism as the reduction of “identity categories to the most readily decipherable marker around which to mobilize” to map out the discourse of Latinidad in global film and television shows produced by Latinas.¹ While the notion of strategic essentialism...

  8. 4 “Ugly” America Dreams the American Dream
    (pp. 119-150)

    In 1997, then MTV Networks chairman Tom Freston was quoted as saying that the future of mainstream television programming was “the tale of two continents—the bringing together of North and South America.”¹ Spurred by the demographic explosion of the U.S. Latina/o television market throughout the past twenty years, U.S. media conglomerates are trying to unlock U.S. Latina/o ratings by looking south to the most popular form of programming in Mexico and Latin America—the telenovela.² It is no surprise then that one of the biggest new network shows in 2006 featured U.S.-born Honduran actor America Ferrera in an ABC...

  9. 5 Maid in Hollywood: Producing Latina Labor in an Anti-immigration Imaginary
    (pp. 151-174)

    Audiences in the United States are continually exposed to contradictory media narratives about Latinidad.¹ While evening news broadcasts remain fixated on the economic, demographic, and cultural invasion of Latina/o immigrants, such as news coverage about the Elián González case, contemporary film and television often provide more romantic stories about Latinas, such as the filmFridaor the television programUgly Betty. Generally absent from news reports, Latina/o faces dot the backgrounds of television show story lines. According to a 2001 report by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, Latina/o characters are generally invisible on television, making up only 2...

  10. Conclusion: An Epilogue for Dangerous Curves
    (pp. 175-182)

    In the decade since I began the research for this book, the visibility of Latinas in the global mediascape has proliferated. Latina/o immigration continues to occupy the evening news and political sphere. New Latina cover girls have arisen to capture our attention. America Ferrera and Eva Longoria are as likely to appear on the glossy pages of fashion magazines as more established Latina stalwarts Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek. Actors who previously resisted identifying as Latina are now embracing the label, perhaps for political reasons, perhaps as a sign of the increased economic viability of Latina bodies in the global...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 183-216)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-236)
  13. Index
    (pp. 237-254)
  14. About the Author
    (pp. 255-255)