I guess there are no Latinos in Southern California? Latino Por Lana

By: Claudio Alberto Cortés

UPDATED   July 1, 2020

When the notion crossed my mind to keep a running list of non latino/a/x actors playing raza it never occurred to me that I would  have to update it more than annually, given how little we are represented in film.

I caught wind of a new trailer that looked like it would make a great popcorn film under normal circumstances because someone else in my social network sphere posted a link for a trailer to an upcoming film called “The Tax Collector”. The trailer starts with an ominous ping punctuated by an East L.A. cholo accented man with wrap around sunglasses asking a frightened latino kid “You heard of me?” the clearly plused kid stutters out…”yea, they say that your the devil” or something along those lines. Next ehe action escalates we see clips of bodies being moved, Shia LeBouf in a hazmat suit? and then like a ton of bricks 32 seconds into it we get the real gem of the whole oredal…”Whats Up Homes” says a chicano’ed out Shia LeBouf, after this scene we get gun flashing, gun fights, and the obligatory explosions – boiler plate action movie stuff. The whole ordeal has me asking the same question once again….Are there no Latino/a/x people in southern California?

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April 6, 2020

While sitting on the toilet some sunday morning reviewing my news feed, as one does. I came across a trailer for a spiritual sequel to one of my favorite films, the 1998 Cohen brothers classic ‘The Big Lebowski”. This sequel is about a punch line character from the first movie called “The Jesus”, a latin-lover bowling enthusiast with a ponytail and tight purple jumpsuit that is rumored to be a “pederast”. It actually looks like a movie that I can see myself renting on amazon some Saturday evening after putting my daughter down to bed. 

Twenty Two years no one gave enough of a shit about Latino opinions to make a stink about the fact that 1.The character is an offensive stereotype and 2.The stereotype is played by a white guy called John Turturro. This isn’t a rant against John Turturro, he’s been in some great movies (Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?), what this is a rant about is the fact that Hollywood doesn’t seem to be able to find latinos to you know….play latinos on screen? 

I know that John Turturro is not the cause of the problem, it’s not like went out of his way to play latinos on screen, no, he represents in big red letters, an industry that is completely blind to the fact that it is headquartered in what used to be Mexico and cannot seem to find a single brown person to portray a brown person on screen. I could go on and on, but that would just turn into a rant. As these things tend to do, it motivated me to act! What was the action that I deemed a reasonable reaction to this?  Compiling a list of the most egregious instances of latino characters played by, well let’s just call them people who can’t roll their “Rs”, or shall we say..Latino Por Lana

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  • Shia LeBouf – Creeper – The Tax Collecter
  • La Bamba – Ritchie Valens – Lou Diamond Philips 
  • Blow – Pablo Escobar -Cliff Curtis 
  • Training Day – Smiley – Cliff Curtis (note the repeat, Cliff Curtis, has made a career out of playing Latinos) 
  • Argo-Tony Mendez -Ben Afflek 
  • Moonlight – Juan – Mahershala Ali
  • Moonlight  -Teresa – Janelle Monae
  • The Big Lebowski and Jesus Rolls – The Jesus – John Turturro
  • Mr. Deeds – Emilio Lopez – John Turturro 
  • The BirdCage – Agador – Hank Azaria 
  • The Princess Bride – Inigo Montoya – 
  • The Mask of Zorro – Don Diego De La Vega – Sir Anthony Hopkins 
  • The Mask of Zorro – Elena – Catherine Zeta Jones 
  • Scarface – Tony Montana – Al Pacino 
  • Evita – Evita Perón – Madonna 
  • Before Night Falls – Various Cubans – Johnny Depp
  • The Soloist – Steve Lopez – Robert Downey Jr. 
  • The West Side Story – Bernardo Nuñez – George Chakiris 
  • Viva Zapata! – Emiliano Motherfucking Zapata – Marlon Brando 
  • Breaking Bad – Gustavo Fring – Giancarlo Espozito 
  • Breaking Bad – Tio Salamanca – Mark Margolis 
  • Better Call Saul – Nacho Varga – Michael Mando  

Did we miss anyone? Who are some notable Latinos Por Lana that you think should be added to this list? Hit us up on Twitter @Milwaukeno

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