Things That Matter

If You’re Tired Of Hollywood’s Portrayal Of Colombia, Here’s A Video Series You’ll Want To Watch

Colombian Ambush

Listed as one of the best drama series by Business Insider, Netflix original “Narcos” stunned viewers with their first season which aired in August 2015. Some viewers described the show as electrifying, suspenseful, intense, mind-blowing and addicting – the same type of adjectives that are often used to describe other narco narratives. From Spanish-language novelas such as “La Reina del Sur,” “La Viuda Negra,” and “Dueños del Paraíso,” to Hollywood films such as “Clear and Present Danger,” “Collateral Damage,” and “Delta Force 2,” entertainment and the storyline of narcos go hand in hand. More often than not, these storylines are set in Colombia and the image of narcos is glorified, which is what you see in hip hop trio Migos’ music video, “Narcos.” All throughout the music video you see women in bathing suits and wealthy men holding guns, accompanied by song lyrics such as “trapping like the narco, got dope like Pablo,” “I just put a pack on the way to Bogota,” and “10 mil’ on a plane, going straight to Medellin.” However, despite the 290k likes this music video has reached on YouTube and despite the three seasons “Narcos” now has on Netflix, the success of this content doesn’t resonate well with Colombian natives.

In an essay written by Colombian native Bernardo Aparicio García, the writer speaks on the Netflix series “Narcos” and says, “I knew nothing about this new show, and that’s how I wanted to keep things. Critics had compared Narcos to Breaking Bad and Goodfellas, but what Colombian could view the story of Pablo Escobar as entertainment?”

Also in response to the show “Narcos,” Colombian native Felipe Torres Medina emphasizes in his essay, “Colombia doing well is great for Colombia, but bad for Hollywood. It’s just not a great story. No one wants to hear about biodiversity or the Peace Process that will end the longest armed conflict in the Americas, because that doesn’t fit the narrative they are selling to the United States.”

This narrative of Colombia that “doesn’t fit” in the world of entertainment is the exact narrative a campaign called Colombian Ambush is trying to push. In a four episode series, this campaign creatively tackles the stereotypes of Colombia that are often presented in film and television. Mitú spoke to a few of the talented folks who brought this campaign to life, including Creative Director Ciro Sarmiento, Director Simon Brand, and Executive Producer Marcos Cline.

While every video has a different storyline, they all work collectively to deliver the same message: “There’s a [deeper] background and history to this country.”

This collective message starts to build right away in the video “See the REAL target in their sights.”

The beginning of this video alludes to a very suspenseful and possibly dangerous scene, as is common in most narcos related film and television, then there’s an unexpected reveal: the beautiful Piranga Leucoptera.

“What we really wanted to use was that preconception of what Colombia is and what the American audience thinks of Colombia and use that content and atmosphere to let them think that this was another Colombian narco movie. And once they become engaged with the content, we ambush them with real facts about the country,” said the Colombian Ambush team.

This type of creative angle ties directly to the tagline of the campaign: Fighting the stereotype with the stereotype. “So in a way, we did use the stereotype image to fight against it because we knew that was the way to get American audiences compelled to watch the content,” the team explained.

This same angle is also applied to the video “What REAL Colombian women have to offer.”

This video begins with a scene of a Colombian woman dancing while preparing herself an alcoholic beverage. A man walks up behind her and wraps his arms around her, beginning to flirt and ask her for salsa dance lessons. Even though this introduction hints at the stereotype of Colombian women being hyper-sexualized and only being valued for their physical appearances, the storyline then takes you in a different direction. Instead of giving the man salsa dance lessons like he requests, she informs him about Diana Trujillo. Trujillo is a Colombiana and an aerospace engineer who led the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover mission.

Even though not everyone might know who Diana Trujillo is and why she is such an important figure, the goal of the Colombian Ambush team is to educate foreign audiences little by little. “This is not something that will happen in one day, so we believe that this is an effort that can help towards that final goal of cleaning the image that Colombia has outside. But it takes a lot of work and effort and consistency,” said the Colombian Ambush team.

In addition to the stereotype of Colombian women being over-sexualized, this campaign also tackles the stereotype of Colombian men being dangerous drug traffickers.

Two men in a vehicle driving late at night on a lonely road will conjure up narco-themed media. Suddenly, they are pulled over by police enforcement. The context of this scene gives you the impression that either the two men in the vehicle are up to something bad or the police officers who pull them over are on the brink of doing something bad. However, once the officer and the men in the vehicle begin to exchange dialogue, you discover that the driver and the passenger are on their way back from visiting the Gold Museum, located in Bogotá. Rather than this exchange between the officer and the men in the vehicle turning into a bloody drug brawl, they all have an intimate conversation about El Museo del Oro.

“It’s a fascinating piece of information presented in a disruptive way,” as Executive Producer Marcos Cline said. And it’s this surprise element that comes with each video that leads viewers to respond with comments such as: “Wow, I didn’t realize this particular aspect about Colombia.”

“That to me is the important thing, to establish a pattern in which we can focus on positive aspects and positive contributions that not just Colombia, but any country has to the world,” emphasized Cline.

The final video of this series presents you with another common stereotype of Colombian patróns.

As is the case in several narco narratives presented through film and television, there is one person who takes on the role of the patrón (the boss). In the Netflix series “Narcos” for example, the patrón is Pablo Escobar – a dangerous and intimidating man who is in power of the entire drug cartel and is feared by many.

These exact characteristics of the patrón are presented by the man in this short video who sits on the armchair, smoking a cigar. As this man is presented with a briefcase, an audience member who is only familiar with the Hollywood narco narrative might assume that there are drugs being carried in that briefcase. However, once this briefcase is opened, you see the titles of different books written by Gabriel García Márquez – a Colombian Nobel Laureate and an extremely influential writer.

The goal of tackling these stereotypes goes far beyond Colombia, the Colombian Ambush team agreed.

“I think that any country in the world can probably argue that their portrayal in the media or people’s beliefs of what they’re like are not really accurate,” Cline said. “And so I think one of the reasons why this campaign is so successful is not just the fact that it’s relatable, but also because it leaves those little bits and pieces of information that are unexpected and that are positive.”

Director Simon Brand points at a recent example that is evidence as to why this campaign is so significant to their team.

Colombian Ambush challenges foreign audiences to remove the stereotypical lens of this country. Instead, Colombian Ambush wants audiences to look at Colombia with a fresh set of eyes.

When asked to describe Colombia, Executive Producer Cline said, “It’s a dynamic, diverse, forward thinking country that has gone through the same culinary explosion that a few different countries have gone through. Similar to Mexico, where the conquest was not only military but religious, they have an incredibly long history deeply attached to European roots as well and you can notice that in some of the architecture. Aside from all of that, it’s one of these countries where people are happy.”

Along with this description, it’s important to keep in mind that Cline himself is not Colombian, yet he was able to illustrate this country with so many words besides drugs, narcos, cocaine, sexy women and beaches. If this campaign can get more people to describe Colombia in more detailed, intricate and diverse ways, then maybe the same goal can be reached for other countries.


READ: Two Latinx Women Are Tackling Major Issues In Their Community One Podcast At A Time

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Latin America Is Fighting A Banana Fungus That Threatens America’s Favorite Fruit

Culture

Latin America Is Fighting A Banana Fungus That Threatens America’s Favorite Fruit

Jametlene Reskp / Unsplash

Did you wake up and eat a banana for breakfast this morning? Straight out of the peel? Or maybe you chopped it up into a few pieces and tossed it into a smoothie or over a bowl of cereal?  

Or maybe your abuelita fried a few up and served them with some crema and a side of rice and frijoles? 

Bananas are a staple food item around the world. In fact, we consume around 114 millions tons of them every single year. So you can imagine why many people are freaking out over recent news that a banana killing fungus has taken hold. It could literally spell the end for our beloved banana. 

A deadly fungus has infested banana crops across Colombia.

Bad news for banana lovers: A fungus that’s particularly adept at killing the fruit has finally reached Latin America — a major supplier of the world’s bananas — as scientists long feared it would.

Recently, officials in Colombia declared a national emergency after confirming the presence of this deadly fungus, known as Fusarium oxysporum Tropical Race 4 (TR4), in the country, according to the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA)

This is the first time the fungus has been detected in Latin America. However, the fungus isn’t new — for decades, it has been devastating banana plantations in Asia, Australia and East Africa.

This is potentially devastating news because Latin America was one of the few remaining fungus-free regions in the world.

Although this fungus isn’t harmful to humans, it is a “serious threat” to banana production, according to the United Nations. The fungus attacks the plant’s roots and blocks its vascular system — the network used to transport water and nutrients — and ultimately kills the plant. Once the fungus finds its way into soil, it can’t be treated with fungicides, and it’s very difficult to remove.

So what does this mean for the fruit so many of us have come to enjoy?

Well, the fungus attacks the most commonly exported banana, the Cavendish banana. “For Western countries, the vast majority of the bananas we eat are from the same Cavendish subgroup,” Nicolas Roux, a senior scientist at Bioversity International in France, told Live Science in a June interview.

“What we’re having is an almost apocalyptic scenario where we’ll probably lose Cavendish [banana]” Sarah Gurr, Exeter University’s chair in food security, told Wired in an interview.

Also, side note, the Cavendish bananas which are what most of us buy in the supermarket, are literal clones of one another.

Cavendish bananas reproduce asexually, meaning that the plants are essentially clones of their parents. This means banana crops lack genetic diversity, and infections can spread quickly. That’s not weird at all. 

Virtually every supermarket banana in the world is a Cavendish, a strain chosen for its hardiness and easy cultivation. In the 1950s, it replaced the Gros Michel, a comparable banana that was all but wiped out by the soil-dwelling fungus Panama disease. Also known as Fusarium fungus, the blight blackens bananas from the inside out. Once it’s infected a plantation, its fruit is toast. Even decades after bananas have gone, the spores hang around in the soil, with the potential to re-infect crops all over again.

Colombia is just the most recent outbreak. This fungus has been wreaking havoc globally for years.

For the past 30 years, the fungus has wreaked havoc on banana plantations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Now, Colombia’s agriculture and fishing institute has declared a national emergency after the fungus was found in the northeastern province of La Guajira in June. Nearly 170 hectares (420 acres) of plantations have since been quarantined

So what’s the plan? How will we save the banana? 

A number of ideas have been proposed to help save the Cavendish banana, including genetically engineering plants that are resistant to TR4. Meanwhile, researchers are trying desperately to find a new kind of banana that can survive Tropical Race 4.

Scientists in Australia have created a fungus-resistant variety using genetic engineering. It’s still being tested and would require government approval before it could be grown or sold. 

Other scientists are looking through nature’s storehouse. Unfortunately, 80% of banana fruits are susceptible to TR4. And none of the fungus-resistant plants are ready to replace the bananas that currently fill supermarket shelves. Most of them are cooking bananas, or plantains. Others are wild bananas with tiny fruit that’s inedible; the pods are full of seeds.

The hope, however, is that plant breeders can take these plants and cross-pollinate them, mating them with other, more commercially viable bananas, reshuffling the genes to create new varieties that are both delicious and immune to TR4.

These Are 20 Latinos Celebs Who Made It So Big In Hollywood They Got Their Own Star

Entertainment

These Are 20 Latinos Celebs Who Made It So Big In Hollywood They Got Their Own Star

Thalia Is Honored with A Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame” Digital Image. Ace Showbiz. 5 July 2018.

Time for a serious question: what makes a celebrity, a celebrity? How do they know they’ve made it? Is it by appearing in the tabloids for the first time? Or is it by winning industry awards? Or, maybe it’s to do with the amount of number of Insta followers they have?

Nah, it’s not any of those things. A celeb knows they’ve made it once they get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! So, we’ve put together a list of 20 latino celebrities that have got a real, bona fide star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You know, for the next time you’re playing Trivial Pursuit. Or when you wanna impress your Tinder date. 

1. Christina Aguilera

Instagram / @xtina

Xtina got her name emblazoned on the Hollywood Walk of Fame back in 2010, having been awarded a Star of Recording. While she’s got plenty of reasons to have been selected for the honor, at the time of the award, Christina had gotten four number one singles on the Billboard’s Hottest 100 chart, won five Grammys, and sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

2. Selena Quintanilla

Instagram / @champng_1

Our girl Selena Quintanilla was awarded her Star of Recording only as recently as 2017! Since it was awarded posthumously, Selena’s family attended the ceremony, while her sister helped design the star itself. There’s no doubt that Selena was deserving. Her accomplishments include winning the Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards for nine yearsin row, as well as being recognized as Billboard Magazine’s “Top Latin artist of the ‘90s”, “Best selling Latin artist of the decade,” and charted in 2016 as the “Top Latin Album of the Year, Female Artist.”

3. Guillermo del Toro

Instagram / @lana_eilish

While Guillermo del Toro only received his star recently, it’s been a long time coming. His most recently released film, “The Shape of Water,” alone went onto win Golden Globes, BAFTAs, DGA, PGA and Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Production Design.

4. Antonio Banderas

Instagram / @antoniobanderasoficial

Even though Antonio Banderas received his star in 2005 for his achievements in film, that doesn’t mean that he’s not multitalented! He’s known for his acting, directing, producing and singing skills. Fun fact: Antonio Banderas holds the record for the highest salary for an extra, for the part he played in “Gladiator,” where he was paid $50,000. Nice.

5. Gloria Estefan

Instagram / @gloriaestefan

Having received her Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1983 for her talents as a recording artist, Gloria Estefan is definitely a legend in her own right. She has won seven Grammy Awards and is in the top 100 best selling music artists of all time, with over 90 million albums sold worldwide.

6. Shakira

Instagram / @shakira

Despite the fact that Shakira’s full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, she’s one of the few celebrities awarded with a star on the Walk of Fame that only has one name engraved on the star! 2011 was the year that she was formally recognized for her contributions to the music industry. She’s accrued 12 Billboard Latin Music Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammys over the years for her bangers, which include “Whenever, Wherever,” “Hips Don’t Lie,” and “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).” 

7. Andy García

Instagram / @andygarcia

Andy García’s star for his acting abilities was awarded to him back in 1995. Having been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part in “The Godfather Part III”, we’d probably know him better for the part he played in “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

8. Luis Miguel

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Latina. 5 July 2018

Alright, so we were all in diapers when Luis Miguel got this award back in 1996, but his mariachis and boleros have lived on. He received 5 Grammy Awards by the time he hit 26. That’s estrella material right there.

9. Carlos Santana

Instagram / @carlossantana

Carlos Santana counts more than just a star of recording on the Hollywood Walk of Fame among his accolades. Rolling Stone name him number 15 on their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003. In addition, Santana’s also won 3 Latin Grammy Awards and 10 Grammys. 

10. Sofia Vergara

Instagram / @sofiavergara

Entertainment trade papers have named Sofia Vergara one of the most talented and powerful women in Hispanic entertainment, and for good reason. Her star in television, which was awarded in 2015, comes as no surprise when looking at her expansive acting career, retail lines, producing roles, successful Hispanic management agency and philanthropic endeavors.

11. Pitbull

Instagram / @pitbull

Armando Christian Perez, or as we know him, Pitbull, received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recording in 2016. Between his number one hits in over 15 countries, nine billion followers between his Youtube and VEVO channels, 70 million single sales and six million album sales, you’ve probably heard his name somewhere before.

12. Ricky Martin

Instagram / @ricky_martin

After jiving away to number one hits such as “Maria” and “La Copa de la Vida,” there’s no way we’d forgive you if you said you didn’t know Ricky Martin. His star on the Walk of Fame for recording came to him a year after he was nominated as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People Magazine in 2006. Which is fair – he’s an absolute babe.

13. Zoe Saldana

Instagram / @zoesaldana

2018 was the year that Zoe Saldana was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to motion pictures. While you know her from movies such as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Star Trek: Beyond,” and “Avatar,” you probably don’t know that she’s also launched digital platform “BESE” to shed a light on Latino stories in America. 

14. Eva Longoria

Instagram / @evalongoria

Eva Longoria also received her star on the Walk of Fame in 2018, for her influence in television. She’s best known for her role as Gabrielle Solis in “Desperate Housewives,” which was the most popular show in its demographic, worldwide. It aired in 208 countries, with an audience of 120 million views. Imagine having that many people watching you on television every week!

15. George López

Get this: The comedian we all know and love said, “I remember being 15, and walking up and down (the Walk of Fame) and dreaming about what I wanted to do and never thinking it was going to be done,” said the star.

In 2006, he got his wish.

16. Cameron Diaz

Instagram / @camerondiaz

She’s a four-time Golden Globe nominee, Best Actress of the Year by the New York Film Critics Circle, and has also won an MTV Movie Award, so it’s no wonder Cameron Diaz received a Walk of Fame star for her work in motion pictures in 2009. The biggest shame is the fact that she’s formally retired from acting, as of 2014. 

17. Jennifer Lopez

Instagram / @jlo

JLo has made a name for herself as an actress, entertainer, music artist, film and television producer, fashion designer, entrepreneur and humanitarian. So which of these do you think landed her the star on the Walk of Fame in 2013? If you thought it was her career as a recording artist, you’d be right! We’re sure it’s only a matter of time before she gets another star for her other work.

18. Thalía

She’s the “Queen of Latin Pop” and was honored like a jefe in December 2013. She’s truly a Renaissance woman, selling tens of millions of records, authoring four books and acting in star roles in several telenovelas. You should get a star for each category you star in.

19. Rita Moreno

Instagram / @theritamoreno

She’s the first, and only, Hispanic actor to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. So, it seems only natural that Rita Moreno received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her work in motion pictures in 1995, right?

20. Marco Antonio Solís

Instagram / @marcoantoniosolis_oficial

Having recorded more than 20 albums, written more than 300 songs, released eight number one hits, and won multiple Latin Grammys, Marco Antonio Solis definitely deserved his award of a star for recording in 2010.

There are some seriously talented and creative Latinos out there – as we can already see from the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars! Are there any Latinos you’ve wished would be awarded a star already? Let us know on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

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