February 26, 2012

When was the last Mexican American nominated for an Oscar?

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
Yet the most striking diversity shortfall in Hollywood is one that would get any less liberal industry in trouble with Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Los Angeles County is about half Hispanic, and Latino fans make up 30% of the enthusiasts for summer blockbusters. Despite all that, Mexican Americans—in the sense of those who have spent at least part of their formative years in America—are remarkably underrepresented in The Industry.  
Wikipedia’s Oscar lists suggest that no Mexican American has been nominated in any category, no matter how humble, since the 1980s. They're riding a zero for several thousand cold streak. 
Oddly enough, Mexican Americans did better in the pre-diversity days, receiving five acting nominations from 1952 through 1964.

Read the whole thing there.


Henry Canaday said...

I saw Anthony Quinn once, or rather witnessed an Anthony Quinn passage, on a Manhattan street. It was on the narrow sidewalk of a side street, packed with a moving crowd of apparently self-absorbed New Yorkers. Suddenly the crowd divided, like the bow wave in front of a battleship under full steam, and Quinn barreled quickly past me, the crowd closing up again several yards behind him.

This was in the late 1980s, when Quinn was an old man and long past his movie fame. But people still noticed when Anthony Quinn walked down the street.

Anonymous said...

nepotistically white" ? That implies 'ethnic nepotism' of white Americans, as opposed to plain old nepotism. Thanks Steve. And your evidence is a 1996 People magazine article? How about a little more caution with your terms. I'm sure it's really easy for NonHispanic White Americans from Lancaster or Simi to get invited to those backyard Malibu barbecues.

Every claim of racism, institutional racism, anti-semitism, or other claims of prejudice or bigotry should be labeled for what is is - an accusation, and probably a libel, a defamation, and potentially the worst form of hate speech - one that foments hatred against an entire ethnic group - usually NonHispanic white Americans.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans are a mixture of white and Indian.

They themselves are a 'false' category race.

Their genes want to become purer which is why in Brazil there is all this filtering. In 1000 years Brazil will have 3 separate races as everyone has filtered themselves back to purity.

So why would Mexicans want to watch anyone but whites on the movie screen?

Slap a tan on Rosie Huntington Whitley and you got a winner.

Anonymous said...

But hey, I'll bet 80% of nannies working for Hollywood elites are Mexican, so the Hollywood community is indeed very inclusive.

Anonymous said...

How many conservative Christians have been nominated?

How many gays, how many liberal Jews?

gumex said...

Mexican-Americans and white conservative Americans have one thing in common: no cultural creativity. Country music and Nascar for white conservatives, and Mariachi music and mowing lawns for Mexican-Americans.

Maybe Mex-Americans and white conservatives don't like one another due to narcissism of small differences.
White conservatives feel their special claim to cultural blandness and lameness is being threatened by Mexican-Americans.
Bland white bread competing with bland corn tortilla.

Anonymous said...

Speedy Gonzales?

Anonymous said...

But, but, but, ... I thought that Jello was Mexican or Hispanic or something. Surely that counts.

Anonymous said...

I find this hard to believe. You mean Detroit is less corrupt than Chicago or LA? Or, is it because there's nothing left to steal in the Motor City?

swimming swan said...

Mexicans have their own media. I'd compliment them for not boldly demanding our movie industry establish racial quotas for Mexican Americans. Plus the occasional other type of hispanic does become a prominent actor here: Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas out of Spain, for instance.

agnostic said...

There's a similar trend for gay singers. Like women, they rarely play an instrument (except...), and need to be the center of attention or they're quitting the band.

Back in the good old days when homophobia was widespread, even among liberal women, gays were in the closet, only coming out during the '90s. Unable to play the LOVE ME I'M GAY card, they had to earn applause.

Just a short list of superstar once-closeted-homo singers:

Marc Almond from Soft Cell
Boy George from Culture Club
Pete Burns from Dead or Alive
Rob Halford from Judas Priest
Elton John
Limahl ("Neverending Story")
Freddie Mercury from Queen
George Michael (also with Wham)
Neil Tennant from Pet Shop Boys

All from the '70s and '80s, and all British (not sure why there's no Americans).

In the '90s and 2000s, there was only Lance Bass from N Sync and Ricky Martin. There are more fag hags than actual fags among chart-topping singers these days -- Lady Gaga, Pink, Katy Perry, etc.

Once a group gets unconditional, continual applause from much of society, they stop working for it.

SF said...

You could almost count Salma Hayek. She went to school in Louisiana for a while. For civil rights purposes, you get to count Dominican/Puerto Rican Zoe Saldana, but her part in Avatar was too primitive to get a nomination

Anonymous said...

Cheech Marin?

Anonymous said...

Anthony Quinn was great. He also appeared in several Italian films, most notably Fellini's La Strada, which won the Oscar that year. For a whil I thought he was Italian. Apparently, he also had some success with painting and worked for a while for Frank Lloyd Wright.

What about Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron, would they count as Mexican-Americans, or just Mexicans? Or neither?


Pugnacious said...

IMHO, Anthony Quinn's greatest role was that Omar Makhtur, Libyan freedom fighter and Khaddafi's mentor, in the non-Hollywood production of The Lion of the Desert.

Anonymous said...

One thing for sure, the real best film generally isn't nominated and almost never wins. And the truly great directors don't win either. Peckinpah and Wild Bunch, Kubrick and 2001, Hitchcock and Vertigo, Scorsese and Mean Streets, Linklater and Dazed & Confused, Spielberg and AI, etc.

Anonymous said...

... or when did the Oscar go to the truly deserving film or person?

Anonymous said...

Not being nominated by Oscars is like an honor.
And in the 60s, I don't think the Beatles or Dylan or Stones or The Who won a single grammy. An honor not to win such shitty award.

green mamba said...

Synchronicity: I was just thinking this morning about a 1974 film I saw recently, "Freebie and the Bean". In it, Alan Arkin plays a Mexican cop and Valerie Harper plays his Mexican wife. Two Jewish actors pretending to squabble like Mexicans beneath the crucifix displayed in a tiny apartment - so ridiculous, even vaguely offensive for this Jewish non-Mexican. You would think Hollywood - the the revolutionary seventies, no less! - would be able to find two Mexican-descended actors to play these parts, but no, it had to be play-time for these members of the tribe (who, no doubt, due to their talent and big-heartedness, know Mexicans better than Mexicans know themselves).

Of course, when it comes to choosing actors for Jewish parts, Hollywood often chooses Aryan-looking gentiles. We wouldn't want people to get the idea that most Jews actually look like Jews.

Mr X said...

"Their genes want to become purer which is why in Brazil there is all this filtering. In 1000 years Brazil will have 3 separate races as everyone has filtered themselves back to purity. "

Huh? "Genes want to become purer"? Is this a rehash of Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene"?

I don't think so... In Brazil rich and middle class whites marry amongst themselves and are not mixed, but lower class whites tend to mix, and there are hardly indians or blacks who don't have at least a bit of European genes. According to a recent study, "Brazilian DNA is 80% European", well, not sure about that, but it's true it's larger than the usual stereotypes:


If it's true that non-Africans have some Neanderthal genes, that kinda shows that miscegenation is the default of mankind. We might see new races evolving in the future.

Mexican-Americans and white conservative Americans have one thing in common: no cultural creativity. Country music and Nascar for white conservatives, and Mariachi music and mowing lawns for Mexican-Americans.

Mexicans create and enjoy soap operas, and comedic such as "El Chavo", it's not for all tastes, but far from being "no cultural creativity". (I don't see what's the difference between a Mexican and a Mexican-American if both are Spanish-speaking mestizos).

Pugnacious said...

In the Fall of 2009, Khaddafi was invited to Rome by Berlusconi for an official apology for Rome's colonial wars against Omar Mukhtar and his followers, and for the hanging of "The Lion," Omar Mahktur.

In the video, adorning Khaddafi's right breast pocket is a photo of Mahktur minutes before the Italian military tribunal carried out his execution by hanging. Makhtur's eighty-five year old son accompanied Khaddafi to Rome for the apology.


Anonymous said...

Peter Hitchens on Putin and Russia.

helene edwards said...

I saw Anthony Quinn once ... on a Manhattan street ... old man and long past his movie fame, but people still noticed.

I saw Robert McFarlane on Post Street in S.F. in 1987, just after he'd testified before Congress in the Iran-Contra dustup. Nobody knew who he was. I said to him, "no more guns for oil," or something like that, and he responded, "Okkayyy".

Anonymous said...

Green Mamba: Actually, Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern was herself a fake Jew (in reality of Catholic background), although she is certainly not Aryan in appearance.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"That Quinn was a mestizo made him more valuable in Hollywood, since he could plausibly play a huge range of races, from Indian chiefs to Greek fishermen to Bedouin sheiks to Ukrainian popes. If you wanted to make a mainstream movie about, say, Eskimos, you could always put famous Oscar-winning movie star Anthony Quinn in your lead role."

Quinn's Mestizo status is pretty damn "virtual." In terms of phenotype, he is a White man; a better question would be, who was the last non-White Hispanic to win an Oscar?

stari_momak said...

"Just a short list of superstar once-closeted-homo singers:

Boy George from Culture Club"


stari_momak said...

A little Steve induced serendipity via teh interwebs

Anthony Quinn --> "Quinn the Eskimo" , Manfred Mann on 'Top of the Pops'. --> Mungo Jerry 'in the summertime' [side bar of similar videos]--> Google search for Mungo Jerry and then 'Ray Dorsett' + Mulato --> "Suspected Mulatto Ancestry" at mulatto.org .

I'm sure you'll all enjoy that last one.

green mamba said...

Actually, Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern was herself a fake Jew

Interesting, I stand partially corrected. Wikipedia says "French and British" background, I guess it's the Gallic part that gives her those dark looks. Still far from Mexican, though, which reminds me of another absurd Hollywood portrayal of Mexicans, "Spanglish" by James Brooks, with the tall, lithe Spanish actress Paz Vega as an illegal Mexican maid with an academically gifted daughter (!). Adam Sandler is in the movie, playing a non-Jew.

Hunsdon said...

Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif; they played everyone.

Steve Sailer said...

"Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif; they played everyone."

And Yul Brynner.

Nowadays, there is only Cliff Curtis to carry on this grand tradition.

Anonymous said...

Peter Hitchens on Putin and Russia.

Do you ever post anything on topic? All your comments are off-topic links.

Hunsdon said...

Speaking of actors and HBD, Charles Bronson was part Lipka Tatar. How many Tatars have won Golden Globes?


When he had the skinny little mustache that came down over the corners of his mouth, he looked straight up, 100 percent Tatar.

Anonymous said...

"Peter Hitchens on Putin and Russia.
Do you ever post anything on topic? All your comments are off-topic links."

How do you know it's the same person doing it when it says 'anonymous'?

Anonymous said...

"Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif; they played everyone."

"And Yul Brynner.
Nowadays, there is only Cliff Curtis to carry on this grand tradition."

Nah, CGI will play everyone in the future: man, woman, all races, all animals, etc.

Anonymous said...

But at least there was Oscar Dela Hoya.

Anonymous said...

The issue of Quinn, a quarter Irish, raises an important point, all those mixed actors of days past were more on the white end of the physical spectrum.

We have never had a straight up, unadulterated one of the los Indios make it big. Mel Gibson was the first director to give lots of them a shot at big time acting in Apocalypto. I'm tired of these criollos and mestizos, but it will be an awkward fit for one of these guys to play an angst-ridden investment banker or over-coming barriers British royal, the sort of roles one needs to get an Oscar. Maybe it would be the ultimate odd man out movie, the one British prince who wasn't quite like the others, he couldn't fit in, couldn't reach the shelves in the kitchen at Buckingham Pal and was mocked for it, that and his inability to speak English. In order for our prince to adapt a crack team of psychologically adept linguists, played by Ian Holm and Geoffrey Rush, work constantly with him, fending off the disparaging comments of the Chamberlain Anthony Hopkins. Meanwhile, the media is kept at bay by an artificially frosty, but caring head maid Dame Maggie Smith and press secretary Helen Mirren. Add a foiled terrorist attack, defeated by husky secret agents Daniel Craig and Russell Crowe with Natalie Portman as American love interest. Something else...needed...yes, Elijah Wood as an androgynous, sexually confused vampire.

But watching our Indian hero would be as awkward as watching Yul Brenner playing Jason Compson in the Long Hot Summer. BTW, if you derive schadenfreude from bad acting/poor casting- think most Christopher Lambert movies- then Brenner in this movie is a must watch.

Anonymous said...

How do you know it's the same person doing it when it says 'anonymous'?

It's the same guy for sure.

Kiwiguy said...

***Nowadays, there is only Cliff Curtis to carry on this grand tradition.***

Curtis' Once Were Warriors co-star Temuera Morrison has also played a number of ethnicities. I recall he was a Pakistani helicopter pilot in "Vertical Limit" and later appeared as Bobba Fet.

Anonymous said...

"How do you know it's the same person doing it when it says 'anonymous'?"

"It's the same guy for sure."

Let's not jump to conclusions.
I am Spartacus.

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

Yul Brynner did tend to market himself as a far-east-Russian exotic charismatic yet it was all from his mother's side (IIRC Natalie Wood was similarly half-Asiatic). He spent a good portion of his teens in Paris.

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

Well according to Wiki his ancestry is more diffuse than I thought. Did not know the part about him being on the lam from the IRS either...

Power Child said...

FWIW, when I'm gaffing or gripping on set (these are the names of jobs, not health problems) I notice that other people behind the camera tend to be white, young, unmarried, and liberal. (In my admittedly young 5-year career, I've worked with all of TWO Hispanic grips, plus one half-Puerto Rican who didn't speak any Spanish. I am not now nor have I ever been a member of any filmmaker's union, by the way.)

People behind the camera also tend to be male if the work is very technical or requires heavy lifting/operating expensive equipment, and female if the work deals with makeup, clothes, props, food, or being on the phone a lot. (I've worked with TWO female grips--both were very good, and both were heterosexual and even girlish.)

Overall, there are a lot more males than females behind the camera, so essentially it's the same crowd you see in film school: young liberal white guys who own Apple products. (I keep my big mouth shut as best I can, which I think helps me continue to get work. If I really have to, I text my snarky conservative comments to a friend using my Motorola smartphone.)

One funny anecdote: I was gaffing a PSA for some Obama-supported public school initiative, and part of it was a stop-motion animation in which light bulbs appear on a map signifying all the countries that score better than the U.S. on some ranking of academic performance. One of the higher-ups--maybe the director or the cinematographer, I can't remember--looked at the map and said "Hey, there's no light bulbs over Africa." Immediately, another guy suggested "Can there be?" Nobody seemed to get the joke except me, but I kept my laughter internal.

PublicSphere said...

Steve's essay cites Edward James Olmos as Jaime Escalante, but skips the interesting fact, previously noted by Steve, that the real Escalante was a Bolivian-American who became active for "U.S. English" against bilingual education.

The LA Times had a story about how he retired, left Garfield High, and everyone there was pretty much happy to forget about him -- presumably he made them look bad, and/or wasn't a member of LA RAZA.

Anonymous said...

I loved Yul Brynner. That guy could act. He played tough guys but his friends were always impressed with his humor and musical ability.

Apparently he was part Mongol and he played everything from Mayans to Cossacks.

I even liked his otherwise ridiculous 'The Ultimate Warrior'. It was trash but classy trash with him in it.

Anonymous said...

Eduardo Verástegui could easily win a nomination... his film 'Bella' should have been nominated for an oscar.. wonder why he's not??


doesn't take much to figure out...

Anonymous said...

just a short list of superstar once-closeted-homo singers
i am old enough to remember when people were shocked that the Village people... were... gay! the navy were on the verge of using them for a recruiting video.. ironically, now they'd be encouraged to!

Svigor said...

Nowadays, there is only Cliff Curtis to carry on this grand tradition.

Alfred Molina, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

stari_momak said...

VerasteguĂ­ is a Basque name, and the guy looks it. A lot of 'Latino' high achievers seem to have a Basque connection, for instance former San Diego city attorney Mike Aguirre who look about as 'Latino' as Stephen Colbert.Vdare nemesis Ruben Navarette might have a basque connection (Navarre, Navaro, Navarette all refer to a province in Basque Country).

Anonymous said...

Very sorry for going OT, but tell me, does it look like since this pic in college, Obama has had a nose job?


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