Things That Matter

After The VMA ‘Despacito’ Snub John Leguizamo Has Decided Enough Is Enough In This Impassioned Letter

In an impassioned letter posted to Billboard, Colombian-American actor John Leguizamo went off on the state of Latino affairs in Hollywood. The 53-year-old can’t believe that the MTV VMAs snubbed “Despacito” (in the best video of the year category), a video which Leguizamo reminds us has over 3 billion views (the most views of any video on YouTube ever). It fired up Leguizamo, who sees it as the most obvious example of an attempt to exclude Latinos from the limelight.

John Leguizamo broke down his frustrations with the ever-increasing disparity he sees with Latinos in the entertainment industry.

“‘Despacito’ is the name of a Spanish-language music video by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi with a historic record-breaking 3 billion views on YouTube. The song, not the video, was a late, perfunctory inclusion as the song of the summer at the MTV Video Music Awards. We must ask ourselves, is this a blatant omission? A proactive and decisive stand against the Spanish language? With 3 billion views, this historic song and video triumphs over the likes of, with all due respect, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, but this is only one example of exclusion.”

Leguizamo really wasn’t feeling that snub, yo.

Leguizamo has been outspoken on issues of underrepresentation in the past, but this seems to have been enough for him.

“It was OK in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s because we’d tell ourselves, ‘They don’t know better,’ as a justification to ease our alienation. It wasn’t fair, but it was status quo. Not knowing better is a symptom of ignorance, not evil. We assumed people over time just needed to become educated, and in turn would empower Latino equality in the arts. We were wrong… I was wrong.

In his letter, he talks about how waiting for the world to change feels antiquated at this point. With the world as connected as it has ever been through social media, the 24/7 news cycle and the collective knowledge of the planet only a keyboard stroke away, the fact that we’re still fighting for our place in the media with a population Leguizamo says is near 70 million, seems ridiculous to him.

He’s asking the real questions here.

“There are almost 70 million Latinos in America, and why do we remain so absent and invisible when we are the second-largest ethnic group after whites?”

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Ultimately, he says, it’s up to us to make a stand, make good art and inspire the next generation to stop waiting for the approval of the mainstream.

“‘They don’t know better’ once quelled all delusion of grandeur. We quietly went back to our corner and waited for our turn in line… but not anymore. It’s time we stand up. It’s time we educated and enabled the Latin people to better the world through brilliant art. We have a lot to offer the world… and I’ve come to feel sorry for those who have yet to know it.”

Leguizamo’s show “Latin History for Morons” comes to Broadway this fall.

Get your tix now! At #latinhistoryBroadway.com event of the fall! Edgiest play on Broadway!

A post shared by John Leguizamo (@johnleguizamo) on

He’ll be bringing the lessons he learned from his own research into Latino history to the stage, educating and creating art all at the same time.


Check out the full letter here: Billboard

READ: After His Son Was Bullied John Leguizamo Learned All About Latino History To Teach His Son To Be Proud


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Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

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Billboard Listed The Top 50 Latin Music Songs Of All Time And Some People Have Questions

Entertainment

Billboard Listed The Top 50 Latin Music Songs Of All Time And Some People Have Questions

shakira / jbalvin / Instagram

Latin music is something we all grew up with. Our parents raised us on the voices of Celia Cruz and Vicente Fernandez. We cleaned the house and entertained ourselves on road trips to these artists and they are ingrained in our DNA. Billboard recently released a list of the 50 best Latin music songs of all time and some are undoubtedly iconic and others just aren’t Latin music.

Billboard dropped their list for the 50 best Latin music songs of all time and some of them are truly classics.

Amor Prohibido” by Selena, “Guantanamera” by Celia Cruz, “El Rey” by Vicente Fernandez, and “El dia que me quieras” by Luis Miguel are just a few of the songs on the list that deserve all the praise. They are songs that transport us to our childhoods and cherished family memories.

The list also includes some newer songs that have rocked out adult worlds. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, “Mi Gente” by J Balvin, “El Farsante” by Ozuna, and “Tusa” by Karol G and Nicki Minaj all made the list. Not only do these songs speak to the Latino audience, they have been able to go mainstream sharing our musical culture with the world. That’s something to admire and respect because it gives our community representation like never before.

The list has proven to be just want some people have been asking for.

Tbh, this would make a pretty amazing road trip playlist if you need to pass the time. Nothing like a mix of Latin music songs playing along to give you a big, inclusive sabor of Latin America through music. A little be of Mexico and a little bit of Puerto Rico mixed in with a little bit of Colombia is pure joy and magic.

However, a lot of people are questioning the list’s inclusion of Spanish artists.

The list has various artists who are not Latino, but Spanish. There seems to be an unspoken rule in the music industry that music in Spanish is automatically Latin music. Fans have long been arguing against the industry’s blanket label of Spanish-language music automatically being considered Latin music.

Rosalía, who has arguably become the face of the debate, is listed as having one of the best Latin music songs of all time.

While Rosalía does make some good music, there is a real push to make sure the artists of Latin American roots are uplifted in Latin music. There is nothing wrong with including Rosalía in your Spanish-language playlists but Latin music fans want the distinction made that some artists aren’t Latino.

You can check out the rest of the Billboard list here.

READ: Vogue México Put A Spanish Music Artist On Their Cover And Called Her Latina And Latinos Almost Set Twitter On Fire

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