Entertainment

21 Times Celebrities And Brands Were Called Out For Appropriating Latino Culture

Refinery29.com / SPLASH NEWS - Courtesy of the V&A Museum / VOGUE

Cultural appropriation happens when a member of a powerful or hegemonic culture, such as Anglo-white culture, adapts elements of a less dominant culture (such as Latin American culture) to produce art or other forms of cultural expression. This is often seen as advantageous and borderline racist. Think of Katy Perry dressed as a Japanese geisha or Gwen Stefani using dresses with African themes.

The fact that appropriation is often used to make money without any benefit for the original creator is one of the problems. Another problem is that things that could be sacred can be used in banal and disrespectful ways.

Here are 21 examples of cultural appropriation. It is important to note that the intention doesn’t necessarily matter here: it is bad in any case. The individual might not be at fault, but the structures of power within society and the media, in general, are certainly to blame.

Excuse me, Marlon Brando looks nothing like Emiliano Zapata.

Credit: 53957836944ec03f4192f25be3b5a436. Digital image. Pinterest. 

Sounds almost como un chiste, right? But yeah, the very white-looking Brando once donned a mustache and wore brown face to play the Mexican revolutionary leader in Elia Kazan’s film “Viva Zapata!” 

What about that one time that Zara used indigenous patterns to mass-produced clothing? 

Credit: bordados-plagio-960×500. Digital image. Animal Politico. 

Sometimes the line between being inspired by culture and appropriating it is very, very thin. Such is the case of Spanish giant Zara, which has been called out for getting a bit too much inspiration from Latin American indigenous women and their awesome work. 

Maria, I just…. wait a minute, Natalie Wood was not Puerto Rican, right? 

Credit: West Side Story / MGM

The entire production of the Oscar-winning “West Side Story”was marred in controversy because most of the cast was not Latino at all. 

A Spanish dude writing about the “exotic” Mexican cartels? Why not?!

Credit: ambos1. Digital image. The Telegraph

“The Queen of the South” is perhaps the most famous novel about the Mexican drug cartels, and it has been adapted into a telenovela and an English-language show. Problem is that it was written by Spaniard Arturo Perez-Reverte, who makes some big uninformed claims about Mexican culture. 

Mel Gibson making an inaccurate movie about the ancient Maya? But of course.

Credit: slice_mel_gibson_crazy_apocalypto_01. Digital image. Collider

Mel Gibson must be one of the most controversial directors ever. In “Apocalypto,”he took a lot of creative liberties to recreate the ancient Mayan civilization. For one, the Mayans were not blood-thirsty savages as Gibson wants us to believe. 

When Madonna dared to play Evita, the most beloved Argentinian of all time. 

Credit: Evita / Hollywood Pictures

The cinematic adaptation and Andre Lloyd Webber’s famous musical was controversial. The production team did travel to Buenos Aires and shot in government buildings, Madonna was great in this role, but some Argentinians never forgave this sacrilege.

Isabel Marant is a famous, rich designer. So why did she steal indigenous designs? 

Credit: mujer-mixe-modelo-diseno-isabel. Digital image. Milenio.

One of the most recent scandals involving cultural appropriation involved designer Isabel Marant, whose collection was “inspired” by the fashion of the indigenous Mixe women. Coincidence or colonial power? 

Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons as Chileans in “The House of the Spirits.”

Credit: The House of the Spirits / Constantin Films

The beloved novel “La casa de los espíritus” by Isabel Allende was adapted with big A-listers in the cast. Why didn’t they hire local talent? No offense to queen Meryl, but she just doesn’t make the cut this time. 

Ashley Tisdale as a sexy catrina.

Credit: 59d50b91d7605b32008b4ab4-960-720. Digital image. Guest of a Guest. 

The Day of the Dead is as popular as Halloween now, isn’t it? Well, catrinas are now a common costume in parties where people go crazy and drink to the supernatural. However, Day of the Dead is a religious and family tradition in its core. Not cool, Ashley, not cool.

Hilary Duff did the same in 2012!

Credit: Large. Digital image. We Hear It!

Yes, it seems like the catrina fashion is here to stay. It is important to note, however, that the Catrina is an important cultural trait for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

Steve Martin is a damn funny mariachi, though.

Credit: Three Amigos / HBO

Well, to be honest, this is borderline okay… Steve Martin plays an actor who ends up thinking he is playing a mariachi bandit when in fact it is the real thing. However, the way the film portrays Latin American culture and people is a bit over the top. 

When Beyonce decided to channel her inner Frida Kahlo.

Credit: 1414840540031_Image_galleryImage_Beyonce_Jay_Z_and_Blue_Iv. Digital image. Daily Mail

Beyonce is infamous for appropriating cultures as she pleases. She was recently bashed for dressing up in Bollywood. Here we can see her as the one and only Frida.

Katy Perry is really excited about her sombrero and ring pop.

Credit: katy-perry-sombrero-mexico-0503-400_0. Digital image. Latina. 

Katy Perry is often called out for using ethnic clothing in her shows. She has been a geisha, for example, for which she was hugely criticized. Here, the diva is unashamedly wearing a sombrero. 

Nomás no entiendes, Paris.

Credit: jq1blv. Digital image. EXAFM

The heiress not only dresses like a Mexican for fun, but she has also said denigratory comments against Mexicans even though her family’s hotel empire is in large part sustained by Mexican labor.

Miley, we know you got some spice…. but dressing up as an actual taco? No manches!

Credit: 237E8CD400000578-0-image-28_1416955185205. Digital image. Daily Mail. 

We gotta admit that this Halloween costume is actually kinda funny, but also kinda insulting nevertheless. 

Melissa Rycroft knows how to dance, but should she tango?

Credit: 5684a50578164442d94893585668c830. Digital image. Pinterest

The “Dancing with the Stars”contestant totally got her fake Argentinian fired up.

Old El Paso ads.

Credit: maxres. Digital image. YouTube

We could argue that Americanized Mexican food is cultural appropriation in itself. Old El Paso generally releases ads that fake Mexican settings, even though some feature the one and only Danny Trejo. 

Everyone involved in “The Mask of Zorro.”

Credit: The Mask of Zorro / TriStar Pictures

Seriously, Antonio Banderas can pass as Mexican, even if he has conquistador blood, but Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins? Give us a damn break!

Charlton Heston playing a Tijuana detective, Mike Vargas.

Credit: Touch of Evil / Universal International Pictures 

Yes, “Touch of Evil”from 1958 is one of Orson Welles’ masterpieces, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that both the director and the lead actor Charlton Heston appropriated Mexican border culture by miscasting the lead character!

Sorry, “Nacho Libre”fans, the movie is a tad inappropriate.

Credit: Nacho Libre / Paramount Pictures

Really? Hollywood can make one lucha libre movie and they choose Jack Black as the lead? An expected disappointment.

READ: Once Again, Kylie And Kendall Jenner Are Being Dragged All Over Social Media For Cultural Appropriation

An Instagram Influencer And Actress Threw A Mexican-Themed Birthday For Her Daughter And Her Fans Are Divided

Culture

An Instagram Influencer And Actress Threw A Mexican-Themed Birthday For Her Daughter And Her Fans Are Divided

Cultural appropriation is a touchy subject. It’s one of those topics that encourages fierce debate and is also very open to interpretation. For some cultures, to be embraced by those outside their communities in such a way is an honor to their customs and beliefs. For other cultures, it’s systematic of a problem that began thousands of years ago with European colonizers.

In other words, it’s a complicated and emotional topic that is impossible to definitively nail down but easy to grow angry over.

Which is why one Instagram influencer mom and the Mexican-themed party that she threw for her daughter’s birthday is getting so much attention.

Instagram / @happilyevereva

Writer, actress and blogger, Eva Amurri Martino recently posted pictures to her Instagram account of her daughter Marlowe’s fifth birthday. The party included her daughter wearing a Puebla dress and Day of the Dead Sugar Skull face paint, a “Cinco de Marlowe” cake, and a taco piñata. Along with the pics, Martino included a caption that explained the reason for the Mexican theme. Referencing her daughter’s upbringing by “incredible Latin women” and the child’s first language of Spanish, the actress expressed Marlowe’s love for the Mexican culture and the Disney movie “Coco.”

The caption reads:

“Anybody who knows Marlowe knows she is obsessed with Mexico- she has had incredible Latin women taking care of her from three weeks old, and one in particular from Mexico who would always call her “cinco de Marlowe” on May 5th. Spanish was actually Marlowe’s first language before English, which made me really proud that she was getting so much from another culture. We moved from Los Angeles, but when the movie Coco came out, Marlowe loved it and felt really connected to it because she had heard about a lot of the themes of the movie from people she cares about. She wanted all these things brought together for her fifth birthday since she was finally, actually turning “cinco”!”

Besides being fans of Mexican culture, Martino wanted to shed light on the issues at the border.

Instagram /  @happilyevereva

According to the the actress’ Instagram post, she has acknowledged the travesty at the border by writing about it, donating to worthy causes and calling her local representatives. She also included a link to her blog where she has written about family separation.

“From when this all first started, we have been donating to those affected- and I also wrote a blog post which I’m putting in my bio. (unfortunately, this has been going on a long time so the post is from a while ago. Please comment on it with additional charities you love). We also have been calling our senators.”

While she clearly explained the reasons for her theme of choice, many commentators on Twitter and Instagram were quick to call this a case of cultural appropriation.

Twitter / @thedealwithalex

This Twitter user attributed Martino’s later explanation of the party as “White” guilt. They also expressed their opinion that her comments amounted to little more than a fake apology.

This Tweet admitted that, though they didn’t know who Martino is, they felt as if she needed to stop.

Twitter / @_heyliz

We won’t argue that white people are one of the main perpetrators of cultural appropriation but remember that everyone can be guilty of this and all marginalized cultures can be appropriated from. That’s one of the reasons why cultural appropriation is so contentious.

This Insta comment expressed offense over the theme but appreciated the explanation attached to it.

Instagram / @molleeelizabeth

It seems like there would be a big difference between appreciation and appropriation but this is another gray area. One group’s version of appreciation can be offensive to the group being borrowed from. Perspective is what determines it in the end.

However, some found no problem with Martino’s party theme choice.

Instagram / @aylinesteck

This Insta user from Mexico expressed her appreciation for the party’s theme. As the comment says, it’s important to teach kids to respect and value other cultures as much as they do their own. If this party is able to accomplish that, then it’s a success.

Other Instagram users spoke to the sense of community and celebration that the Mexican culture has.

Instagram / @roady

Mexicans have a reputation for being family-oriented fans of a good time. So, naturally, a party honoring Mexican culture is a good way to pay tribute to this.

Still, while some Mexican descendants might feel honored by this party, others might be offended. Likewise, while some white people might say that it’s no big deal, some might call it out for cultural appropriation. That’s what’s difficult about cases like this. We won’t solve cultural appropriation today but let’s all agree to respect each other and extend an invite to the next big fiesta we throw.

 
 

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.

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  1. Maria Hernandez says:

    Stop! With the cultural appropriation bullshit. Stop be offended or saying what we should be offended about. Also Nacho libre is awesome, jack black did a great job and Antonio banderas can't play a Mexican because he has conquistador blood lmao, how do you think we got Mexicans. The conquistadors had babies with the indigenous women. I saw this shit on snapchat and yes i took time out of my day to say stop!. Que viva Mexico and anyone who wants to be/dress/celebrate/cook/drink/laugh as a mexicano.