Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
NiLP Guest Commentary Ben Affleck's Argo and the Mexican-American Image

NiLP Guest Commentary Ben Affleck's Argo and the Mexican-American Image

|Views: 29|Likes:
Published by Editor

More info:

Published by: Editor on Dec 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Placido Salazar[psalazar9@satx.rr.com]
We can blame the Anglo film establishment as much as we want
and we should
for totally ignoring the
Mexican-American role-models
, or for selecting
to portray Mexican-
American characters, but let’s face it, our
own Mexican-American
“leaders,” or decisi
on-makers, are even more to blame.Our shameless Mexican-American leaders of American GI Forum and other
“Latino” organizations
sold us U.S. Veterans out, including our Mexican- American Medal of Honor recipients,
when Ken Burns made the WWII Veterans’
documentary. If they betray our heroes-among-heroes,
 for personal gain
, whatchance can other role models expect?How many Mexican-American actors (and we have plenty of male and female
very talented 
Mexican-American actors) were chosen to play significant
roles when “LaBamba” or “Selena” were made?
That movie and others, were produced by aMexican-
American, “
Moctesuma Esparza
is an award-winning producer,
entertainment executive, entrepreneur and community activist.” 
Esparza andseveral other Mexican-American producers/directors, are in positions of authority
and financially capable, some of them working withpublic/taxpayer funds,
which definitely includes Mexican-American taxpayer  funds
, but for some unknown reason, they fail to look under their nose, toselect 
Mexican-American actors/ actresses, to portray Mexican-American role-model characters.During an industry presentation here in San Antonio by James Edward Olmos,which several local producers and I attended, we discussed the disparity in
government funding distribution, noting that although “Latinos” represented
16% of the US population at the time,
only 2% of the funding pie was
allotted to “Latinos,”
most of which went to Cubans and Puerto Ricans, withNOTHING being mentioned abou
t “Mexican
The presentationwas quickly terminated.Yes, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and others deserve federal funding, but so doMexican-Americans.
 Placido Salazar, USAF Retired Vietnam Veteran (210) 422-0378
National Institute for Latino Policy[mailto:angelo.falcon@national-institute-for-latino-
On Behalf Of 
National Institute for Latino Policy
National Institutefor Latino Policy(NiLP)
25 West 18th StreetNew York, NY 10011800-590-2516info@latinopolicy.org 
Board of Directors
José R. Sánchez
 Edgar DeJesus
 Israel Colon
 Maria Rivera
Development Chair 
 Hector FigueroaTanya K. HernandezAngelo Falcón
To make a donation
,Mail check or moneyorder to the aboveaddress to the order of "National Institute forLatino Policy"
Follow us onTwitter and
Ben Affleck's
 and the White-Washingof the Mexican-American
By Moctesuma Esparza (December 3, 2012)
rgo is a 2012 feature film
Hollywood thriller looselybased on a memoir written by Antonio "Tony" Mendez, a CIAoperative, who led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran,
Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film stars Affleck asMendez, was co-produced by Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov, and was directed by Ben Affleck.
The film is well done and satisfying as a thriller, and is now beingtouted for awards consideration for the Golden Globes and Oscars. Although thereare many issues with the historical accuracy of the plot as well as the portrayal of Canadians, and the Iranian people; and I understand these issues as I have made acareer of producing historical films and biographies where I have striven to be asaccurate as possible. I get that dramatizations and inventions are part of thenecessary compromises needed to create a historical dramatic entertaining film.However, what has been done in
falls into a different category of perpetuatingethnic and racial invisibility of Latinos in Hollywood.Antonio "Tony" Mendez is an American hero of Mexican ancestry whose exploits are dramatized in themovie
He wasawarded the Intelligence Star forValor for his role in the rescue. He retired with therank of SIS-2, the equal to a two star General in themilitary. He was also awarded the CIA's IntelligenceMedal of Merit as well as the Intelligence Star and twoCertificates of Distinction. Antonio Mendez was one of fifty officers awarded the Trailblazer Medallion fromamong all officer in the history of the CIA.
I have a tangential connection to the events portrayed in the movie as I wasworking for Jerold Rafshoon, President Carters' Communications Director in theWhite House during this time on the reelection media campaign. I witnessed theimpact of the Iranian hostage crisis on the reelection efforts.
 The concern I am focusing on here is the director/producer's choice to portrayTony as if he is a white non Latino, so he could play the role. This is classic "brownface" at its worst. There is no reasonable justification for this choice as the filmcould have been cast otherwise without affecting its commerciality.Not only did a Latino actor not play Tony, who clearly in real life looks like aChicano, but his ethnicity is stolen from the Latino community at a time whenLatinos have been demonized. Our real Latino national heroes if acknowledgedwould dramatize our patriotism and contribution to the United States. The filmactually goes out of its way to obscure Tony Mendez' ethnicity. His name (Mendez)is mentioned only once and the character says he is from New York (Tony was bornin Nevada from a mining family with six generations in Nevada and raised inColorado). Nowhere in the movie does the viewer get that the hero is MexicanAmerican.
Ben Affleck's portrayal of Antonio "Tony" Mendez was very contained and had verylittle range, I don't know what Tony personality is like to judge the portrayal but this did not impact the movie's success or failure. It was an excellent role that would have elevated a Latino actor like Benjamin Bratt or Michael Peña.Instead, like with the story of  Guy Gabaldon,whose extraordinary achievements in
the WWII Battle of Saipan, capturing, by himself, 1800 enemy soldiers, more thanany other American soldier in the history of our country, was similarly white-washed as Jeffrey Hunter played him inthe 1960 film, "Hell to Eternity." But that was more than half a century ago, 
now. In the closing credits, the photos of thereal people portrayed are presented side-b- side with the actors' photos showingthe very close resemblance and care that was taken in the casting process to cast actors who looked like the real people.Yet, for the key role of Tony Mendez, thedirector/producer Ben Affleck chose asingle long shot of Tony with President Carter where his image was not distinct or recognizable, breaking the pattern he had chosen for all the other real peopledepicted.
we have yet another instance where the public has been denied of anopportunity for all Americans to learn of an American Latino's valor, talent andpatriotism. This occurs because there has been no consequence to this behavior. It is time for a change.
Moctesuma Esparza
is an award-winning producer, entertainment executive,entrepreneur and community activist. He is CEO of Maya Cinemas, a first runmainstreamtheater chaininthe United States principally located in and serving Latino communities , and a partner of Robert Katz in the company Esparza/Katz Productions. He has produced over thirty films, and has won over 200 awards. He isthe producer of such filmsas the
Ballad of Gregorio Cortez
The Milagro Beanfield War
Teddy Roosevelt and the
Jimmy Carter congratulates abeardless Antonio Mendez onthe successful Operation Argo in 1980

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->