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Trinity presentation2


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Presentation @ Trinity University. April 10, 2010.

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Trinity presentation2

  1. 1. Ugly Betty: Challenging Latino(a) representations and the melting pot myth through narrative. Cynara M. Medina Ohio University April 9, 2010 Cynara M. Medina Ohio University April 9, 2010
  2. 2. • Approx. 35 million Latinos(as) in USA (12% of total population). • Median age = 28 < average • 60% of Latinos(as) are US-born • Majority of US-born is bilingual or English-dominant. • Acculturated Latinos(as) tend to be better educated and have higher income. • High rate of home ownership. • Middle class, intermarriage. 2000 The Decennial Census Latinos: Why now?
  3. 3. The production of meaning through language. (Hall, 1997). Way to summarize, organize, and convey information (Gaddis, 2002). Key concepts Representation Myth Stories that become the general norm (Levi-Strauss, 1981). “Sociological charters” that codify beliefs and behavior. (Malinowski, 1948). Symbolic representations of “reality.” A second order semiological sign. (Barthes, 1957/1972).
  4. 4. Ugly Betty
  5. 5. Ignacio Suarez is an illegal immigrant (OMG!). He has two daughters, Hilda and Betty, and a grandson, Justin. They are all American citizens. The government finally catches up to him. Ignacio might be deported, but: He has a family; he pays taxes; he’s a Mets fan. He’s in the Oprah’s Book Club. He’s just like anybody else. Trials and tribulations are meant to prepare him to assume citizenship, but it is not automatic. Storyline tells us how he does it. Illegal Immigration The storyline in a nutshell
  6. 6. Immigrants, freely and rationally, chose America. They come here legally. Success comes only after hardship. Immigrants learn what it means to be an American. Assimilation demonstrates willingness to learn. Rewards for assimilation: Citizenship & American dream. Inclusions and exclusions The Melting Pot An American Myth
  7. 7. Latinos(as) in the Melting Pot. Media Representations • The Bandit. • The Harlot. • The Male Buffoon. • The Female Clown. • The Latin Lover (+). • The Dark Lady (+). (Ramirez-Berg, 1997)
  8. 8. Research Questions How does the illegal immigration storyline in Ugly Betty challenge Latino(a) representations? Is Ugly Betty consistent with the melting pot myth?
  9. 9. Method Textual Analysis “Examines underlying ideological and cultural assumptions” (Fursich, 2009). Most likely interpretation of a text (McKee, 2003), but w/o audience. Considers context of production, distribution, and circulation intertextually (McKee, 2003). Appropriate for analysis of representations. (Curtin, 1995).
  10. 10. Text Illegal Immigration storyline. Season 1-2; 20 episodes. Individual scenes, relevant to the storyline. Relevant intertexts (newspapers, interviews, episode guides).
  11. 11. • Authorship and its constraints. • Complexity (+). • Borrowing from telenovelas (+). • Reversion to stereotypes (-) Findings Ugly Betty as Narrative
  12. 12. • Family-oriented. • Positive machismo. • Acculturated. • Apolitical. • Willing to follow rules. • Trust in institutions. • Uninformed about his rights. Findings Ignacio: The Good Immigrant
  13. 13. • Whitewashing (Davila, 2008). • Reenactment. • Reward. Melting Pot?
  14. 14. I think most people relate to it because it reminds them of their family. When we dealt with Ignacio’s illegal immigration, we set out to tell the story of the struggles and situations immigrants face, but we mined it for humor. We wanted to tell the story rather than make a statement. Negotiations? Silvio Horta. Daily Variety, 2008
  15. 15. What’s next? Other projects • Ugly Betty fans and brand communities. • Ugly Betty as a queer text. • Immigration narratives in other TV shows.
  16. 16. Thank you Questions? Contact Cynara M. Medina Ohio University, School of Media Arts and Studies