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Latino Gangs In Movies Essay

759 words - 3 pages

Latino Gangs in Movies

American filmmakers of the late twentieth century portrayed Latinos as merciless pursuers of the "American Dream". The Latino immigrants were characterized as "Urban Bandidos", seeking the path to ultimate wealth and power in a society dominated by Anglo authority. West Side Story, Fort Apache, and Scarface each portrayed the Latino character differently, but commonly depicted the "Urban Bandido" as a man in search of money and power in America. Not only do these immigrants fight for the warped American dream, but they often fight without fear, willing to risk almost anything to reach the top.

In West Side Story, the Puerto Rican gang known as the Sharks always gets blamed for the conflicts that arise between the two groups. The Latino males are depicted as violent and angry, while the senoritas are portrayed as submissive and willing to assimilate into the anglo-governed society. The popular musical presents American audiences with the idea of interracial relationships in a society that looks down upon the mixing of cultures. Tony and Maria refuse to ignore their undying love for each other, and put that devotion before all other beliefs and concerns about their opposing social groups. As the two gangs fight for territory, Tony and Maria fight to make their friends understand that it doesn't have to be a "space…impregnated with cultural symbols and political significations for the relations, interactions, and social actions according to the "American Way of Life" (Sandoval, 167).

Fort Apache conveys the image of a society where Anglos are the strong, heroic force and the Latinos take a submissive, incompetent role in the urban life. Paul Newman plays the white cop, displaying his heroic Anglo quality when he delivers the baby of a frightened fourteen year-old Latina girl. This is just one example of the way in which Latinos were portrayed as needy and unable to take care of themselves. Newman's partner in the film who is engaged to a young Latina woman, pressures his future wife to sleep with him and she eventually gives in to her strong Anglo man against her original beliefs opposing sex before marriage. Fort Apache displays the widespread view...

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