Thursday, March 21, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen and the "Latino" Vice-President

Phil Austin, who plays U.S.
Vice-President Charlie Rodríguez
in the soon-to-be-released thriller
Olympus Has Fallen.
Olympus Has Fallen is a new action thriller film set to be released this weekend. It stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd and is directed by Antoine Fuqua (best known for directing the film Training Day). It takes place in the White House. We find it a bit odd that a character named Charlie Rodríguez who is the U.S. Vice-President in the movie and he is being played by a non-Latino. (Not saying that all Latino actors must only play Latino roles or even the converse, but was a Latino actor even sought for this role?)

After all of the controversy regarding the casting of the movie Argo, you would think that Hollywood would try to find a Latino actor to play this role. It's not like there are a dearth of them. One could have selected Tony Plana or Jimmy Smits or someone along the line of, say, José Yenque (who most recently played the President of Colombia in the NBC series "1600 Penn"). Or, really make a statement and hire Judy Reyes, Lauren Vélez or Marlene Forté as Vice-President Charlie Rodríguez.

Latinos make up 25 percent of moviegoers even though they’re only 16 percent of the population. The average Latino moviegoer makes it to 5.3 movies a year, compared to 3.7 movies per year for African Americans and 3.5 movies per year for white moviegoers. Click here or here for more info.

The point is Hollywood is trying to reach this audience and make money off of them (it is the American way, now isn't it?). The problem arises when Hollywood thinks they can throw a Rodríguez here or an Aguirre there and maintain the status quo with regards to casting. THAT WILL NOT WORK. We want and need to see OUR FACES on the big and small screen. It is a new day, o mejor dicho, es un nuevo día (more than 50% of the population of California consists of people of color) and Hollywood MUST change accordingly.

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