This post is essentially an off-shoot of my last post, about Hispanic representation in media. There I focused on how pop culture writers create Latin@ characters by coding with things like skin color, accents, names, et al, “defining” these identities by somewhat narrow parameters. I briefly mentioned how culture is an important part of Latino identity, not just superficial physical appearances, which leads me to this post—culture does not exist in a vacuum, it is by its very nature a fundamentally shared phenomenon. Sometimes the cultural unit is as small as a family (which can be as small as two people), but it can be as large as a whole community. Where are these communities on our screens?
It’s that time of year again: National Hispanic Heritage Month in the USA begins today, lasting until October 15. As the current token Hispanic contributing author for this blog, I would like to share a few thoughts about the Hispanic/Latin@ presence in pop culture and what it looks like. First off, Hispanic or Latin@? (Spelling note: Spanish is a gendered language, -o generally denoting masculine and -a generally denoting feminine, so -@ is often used online in an attempt to cover both and everything in between.) Like most complicated subjects, all can be completely clarified and resolved with just a few panels of an online cartoon. Just kidding, it’s not that simple. In a nutshell, “Latin@” emphasizes geography (are you from Latin America?), “Hispanic” emphasizes language (does your country speak Spanish?). But do we include Spaniards in our definitions of Hispanic? How far do we geographically extend the idea of “Latin America”? Endless questions, with no definitive answers. Let’s take a closer look after the jump.