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Contemporary Latina/o Media

Contemporary Latina/o Media: Production, Circulation, Politics

Arlene Dávila
Yeidy M. Rivero
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Latina/o Media
    Book Description:

    Just ten years ago, discussions of Latina/o media could be safely reduced to a handful of TV channels, dominated by Univision and Telemundo. Today, dramatic changes in the global political economy have resulted in an unprecedented rise in major new media ventures for Latinos as everyone seems to want a piece of the Latina/o media market. While current scholarship on Latina/o media have mostly revolved around important issues of representation and stereotypes, this approach does not provide the entire story.InContemporary Latina/o Media, Arlene Dvila and Yeidy M. Rivero bring together an impressive range of leading scholars to move beyond analyses of media representations, going behind the scenes to explore issues of production, circulation, consumption, and political economy that affect Latina/o mass media. Working across the disciplines of Latina/o media, cultural studies, and communication, the contributors examine how Latinos are being affected both by the continued Latin Americanization of genres, products, and audiences, as well as by the whitewashing of mainstream Hollywood media where Latinos have been consistently bypassed. While focusing on Spanish-language television and radio, the essays also touch on the state of Latinos in prime-time television and in digital and alternative media. Using a transnational approach, the volume as a whole explores the ownership, importation, and circulation of talent and content from Latin America, placing the dynamics of the global political economy and cultural politics in the foreground of contemporary analysis of Latina/o media.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-4811-9
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    If you have been reading the business news headlines, you would think that Latin@s are being showered with an unbounded selection of new media choices. Just ten years ago, talk of Latino media could be safely reduced to a handful of TV channels (dominated by Univision and Telemundo), a larger number of radio networks, a variety of more localized venues such as cable stations, and print news. Today, however, there’s a dizzying discussion of new TV channels, booming celebration of Latin@s as the “new” media market, and the entry of big media players anticipated to “transform” what we understand as...


    • 1 Corporate Transnationalism: The US Hispanic and Latin American Television Industries
      (pp. 21-43)

      The transnational as a concept has gained increasing attention from scholars to reflect the complex and hybrid flows of populations, finances, corporations, technologies, and cultures that provide the context for media expansion across borders. Such expansion results from the intensification of globalization processes in the last decades. The transnational, in contrast to the notion of “international,” was born out of the necessity to defy binary oppositions between the national and the foreign, the local and the global (Georgiou, 2006), by underscoring the porous character of national borders, borders that the notion of international seems to reify. The transnational also underscores...

    • 2 Converging from the South: Mexican Television in the United States
      (pp. 44-61)

      The history of audiovisual exchange between the United States and most of the world has been structured in dominance: one side’s content and technology have reigned supreme. Latin America is no exception. But there are important counterexamples, and they animate this chapter. Latin America, particularly Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico, has a global niche in the export oftelenovelas, including massive sales to the United States. The mobilization of dominant stereotypes, working with local imaginaries embedded in “universal” love stories, makes telenovelas symbolically and economically popular with differentiated domestic audiences and “normalized exotic” imports in regional and foreign markets. They...

    • 3 NuvoTV: Will It Withstand the Competition?
      (pp. 62-81)

      The Pew Hispanic Center reported in 2013 that 85 percent of Latinos between the ages of five and seventeen, and nearly 60 percent over the age of eighteen, either speak English only at home or speak English very well (Motel and Patten 2013). This language shift has left traditional Spanish-language networks like Univision ill-prepared to target the growing market segment of English-speaking Latinos. The shift from Spanish to English, however, was precisely what NuvoTV (formerly Sí TV) anticipated. NuvoTV was the first cable network to exploit this growing niche market and produce entertainment programming specifically for English-speaking US Latinos. This...

    • 4 One Language, One Nation, and One Vision: NBC Latino, Fusion, and Fox News Latino
      (pp. 82-102)

      Throughout the last two decades, scholars have analyzed the production of English-language news that focuses on Latin@s. One recent study revealed that ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN have underrepresented and misrepresented 17 percent of the US population. Less than 1 percent of those networks’ evening news stories have centered on Latin@s, and of that percentage, most of the content has been negative. The study’s author concluded that the television networks “still do not consider Latinos to be an integral part of the American social fabric. . . . The nation’s portrait of US Latinos is distorted.”¹ The four English-language networks’...

    • 5 The Gang’s Not All Here: The State of Latinos in Contemporary US Media
      (pp. 103-124)

      This chapter highlights findings from “The Latino Media Gap,” a comprehensive report released in collaboration with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.¹ Using a wide range of methodologies, including statistical analysis, historical research, case studies, and interviews, this chapter provides a state-of-the-art picture of the status of US Latinos in movies, television, radio, and the Internet. It also explores obstacles to and strategies for a more diverse media landscape.

      The first three sections focus on the relative stagnation of Latino participation in media over the last...

    • 6 Latinos at the Margins of Celebrity Culture: Image Sales and the Politics of Paparazzi
      (pp. 125-146)

      The paparazzi are a notorious fixture in Los Angeles, and their inescapable presence has become emblematic of celebrity and Los Angeles culture.¹ In contrast to other types of celebrity photographers—such as redcarpet photographers or celebrity portrait photographers—paparazzi work on the street in an effort to capture candid, photojournalistic shots of celebrities. Despite the ubiquity of their photographs, paparazzi continue to operate largely outside the formal economic channels of celebrity media. Paparazzi are not on staff at any media outlet. Many work on a freelance basis and provide their photos to one or more photo agencies in exchange for...


    • 7 Anatomy of a Protest: Grey’s Anatomy, Colombia’s A corazón abierto, and the Politicization of a Format
      (pp. 149-168)

      In July 2009, Radio Cadena Nacional (RCN), a private Colombian television network, announced the cast of Acorazón abierto, the Colombian adaptation of the US seriesGrey’s Anatomy. Coproduced by Disney Media Networks Latin America, Vista Productions, and RCN,A corazón abiertowas advertised as following the “spirit,” characters, and creative universe ofGrey’s Anatomywhile presenting the realities of Colombia’s health and medical systems. Soon after RCN announcedA corazón abierto’s cast, an unexpected controversy emerged and eventually led to a protest. Several Afro-Colombian organizations accused RCN of racism due to the network’s exclusion of the black characters who...

    • 8 Colombianidades Export Market
      (pp. 169-185)

      In the past few years many TV series have been filmed in studios that resemble Hollywood, but that are actually located in Bogota. A new phenomenon of coproductions between local companies and enterprises such as Telemundo, Sony, Disney, Fox, and Univision is reshaping the Latin@TV market that Colombia had dominated withtelenovelasback in the 1990s.¹ This essay explores how Colombian TV production is adapting to American and Latin@ audiences, and how Bogota is being reimagined and reinventing itself as a reference for Latin@TV production.

      According to Jesús Martín-Barbero, the most important researcher ontelenovelasand popular culture in Latin...

    • 9 The Role of Media Policy in Shaping the US Latino Radio Industry
      (pp. 186-205)

      The history and development of the Latino corporate radio industry in the United States have been profoundly impacted by US media policies that have supported commercialism and consolidation under the guise of diversity, localism, and competition. Since its establishment as the federal regulatory agency in charge of overseeing the structural management of communications in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has had the responsibility of producing media policies that promote the “public interest, convenience and necessity” of the communications infrastructure (US FCC 2012). The promotion of the public interest has been especially important since it has largely been...

    • 10 Lost in Translation: The Politics of Race and Language in Spanish-Language Radio Ratings
      (pp. 206-222)

      In the digital era, tweets, status posts, and pricey ad campaigns have transformed the ways listeners wittingly “tune” in to radio. For the popular Spanish–language and Los Angeles–based hosts Don Cheto and El Piolín, radio salutations are not only voiced over the airwaves but also written in phonetic English and posted on different channels of social media. True, the convergence of media is certainly not unique to Spanish-language radio. Yet the public and recurrent use of a Spanish-accented English to court a Spanish-dominant listener-ship demonstrates a savvy level of cultural fluency in both English and Spanish. The playful...

    • 11 The Dark Side of Transnational Latinidad: Narcocorridos and the Branding of Authenticity
      (pp. 223-242)

      On October 20, 2011,Billboardput together the firstBillboardMexican Music Awards. The event was co-organized with Telemundo, the secondlargest Spanish-language television network in the United States. The awards would reward excellence inBillboard’s regional Mexican music category. Prior to 2011, regional Mexican music was recognized during theBillboardLatin Music Awards. Yet, as a testament to the sheer power of the regional Mexican category,Billboardand Telemundo bet that the standalone ceremony would be a television and marketing success. They were correct. Five million people, including almost 2.8 million adults in the coveted eighteen-to-forty-nine age demographic, saw the...


    • 12 “No Papers, No Fear”: DREAM Activism, New Social Media, and the Queering of Immigrant Rights
      (pp. 245-266)

      For over a decade, heightened fears regarding terrorism and national security have sanctioned an increasingly nativist, anti-immigrant climate that criminalizes noncitizens. These dynamics have stymied even the most modest attempts at reform: Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have championed enforcement-driven immigration legislation whose pathways to citizenship are as onerous as they are insufficient. Yet even these limited efforts to address America’s broken immigration system have been difficult to achieve.

      As comprehensive reform has run into repeated legislative roadblocks, immigration rights activists have often focused on passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. Introduced in...

    • 13 Latina/o Audiences as Citizens: Bridging Culture, Media, and Politics
      (pp. 267-284)

      Between 2005 and 2012 I conducted ethnographic research in Chicago, Illinois, with a diverse group of Latina media audiences in order to understand how they perceived representations of the Latina body in Latina/o-oriented media. Over the course of my research, I noticed that discussions of the relationship between media, culture, and citizenship were commonplace among my participants—adult Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Colombian women living in Chicago. In studying Latinas in Chicago and their engagement with Latina representations in various media forms, I found that, as in the epigraphs above, their interactions with mainstream and ethnic media were very much...

    • 14 Un Desmadre Positivo: Notes on How Jenni Rivera Played Music
      (pp. 285-302)

      Gerardo Rodriguez, a self-proclaimed Jenni Rivera fan, once wrote that “we, the fans, make her. Not the radio, not newspapers, not the TV—it was us.”¹ What is insightful about Rodriguez’s comment is that it breaks the normative construction of popular music as something that is created and produced by the music industry and the artist and is merely consumed by fans. Rodriguez’s statement emphatically states that it was not simply the culture industry that created Jenni Rivera. Instead, Rodriguez’s standpoint as fan and consumer charges Latino media scholars of music to reconsider analytic frameworks that too often are unidirectional...

    • 15 Marketing, Performing, and Interpreting Multiple Latinidades: Los Tigres del Norte and Calle 13’s “América”
      (pp. 303-321)

      For well over a decade, mainstream US media outlets have persistently linked discussions of Latina/o demographic growth to commentaries regarding increased Latina/o buying power. Adhering to the capitalist logic that “Latinas/os can spend, therefore Latinas/os exist,” the Latin(o) popular music industry has thus endeavored to cater to as well as shape Latina/o consumer behavior.¹ One such effort, the May 2011MTV Unpluggedconcert DVD by the US-Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte, exemplifies industry attempts to expressly define Latinidad for mass consumption in the domestic, transnational, and international spheres. During the concert DVD performance of their hit single “América,” Los...

    • 16 Latinos in Alternative Media: Latinos as an Alternative Media Paradigm
      (pp. 322-336)

      While it is the goal of many Latin@ activists to demonstrate that Latin@s are very much like mainstream Americans in order to smooth the way for immigration reform, the fact is that Latin@s, and the hybrid cultures we represent, are very much an “alternative” to mainstream American culture. The stories of Latin@s in the United States, whether told by Latin@ journalists or not, were, during the era of progressive cultural and nationalist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, often an integral part of alternative journalism and formed part of a general alternative journalism narrative that also included other marginalized groups....

    • 17 On History and Strategies for Activism
      (pp. 337-348)

      Good evening to all of you.¹ As someone who has devoted more than thirty years to chronicling day-to-day events in the areas of politics, economics, crime and law enforcement, and labor and race relations—what we journalists typically refer to as “hard news”—I’ve rarely paid much attention to the world of entertainment media, except to occasionally reflect on how it has shaped, or at times distorted, national consciousness, national identity, and the broader culture. Today, however, I share some historical trends that have contributed to our contemporary media system, as well as some ideas for contemporary activism and advocacy....

    (pp. 349-352)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 353-365)