The Representation of Minorities in American Cinema Essay

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The Representation of Minorities in American Cinema

As the semester progressed and we continued learning how Latinos have been misrepresented through American cinema during the twentieth century, I began to wonder about my own heritage and how Jews were portrayed in films of the same era. I grew up learning about the various stereotypes that have been associated with Jews throughout history, but never have I explored the portrayals of Jews through film history in the United States. My curiosity led me to research Hollywood’s image of the Jew, providing me with a better understanding of the role Jews and Jewish family life have played in American Cinema from the very beginnings of film history. I was able to relate the facts about
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In the same way that American cinema placed Latinos and Latinas in certain roles in film, it also made specific characters for the Jewish actors.

As Ramirez-Berg states, "it is difficult to find examples of Hispanic characters in mainstream Hollywood cinema who are complex and self-determining" (Ramirez-Berg, 104). Hispanic male characters were limited to such roles as the "evil greaser", the "villainous bandit", or the "suave Latin lover" in the films made in the early nineteen hundreds. The Latin Lover character and other Latino character types present the Latino men as weak, unintelligent, and villainous, in contrast to the strong Anglo heroes. The range of roles played by Hispanic female characters in early American cinema was even more constricted than that of the males. The limited character types are mainly a result of their primary function as the Anglo love interest. "Film Chicanas, Mexicanas, and other Latinas, then, served mainly as passive sexual goals to be sought by active Anglo heroes and as living proof of Anglo superiority over Latino men" (Cortes, 128). The role most often filled by Latina actresses was that of a cantina girl, basically a dancing, singing, sex object. The common belief at the time was that "After all, they were Latinas. Their strengths, if they had any, were decidedly female. They had reached the limit of the era’s Latina