The remake of the movie “Father of the Bride” stars Cuban-Americans, Andy García and Gloria Estefan.
The comedy is set in Miami and the Cuban American daughter and lawyer is engaged to marry – a Mexican.
But it’s not so much a culture clash of Cuban vs. Mexican but a game of who is wealthier. García plays a successful architect who built up a successful practice. He constantly reminds his family that he came to this country with “nothing.”
Of course, the film doesn’t mention that at the time García’s character came in exile to the U.S. Cubans were given a pathway to green cards and citizenship, which helped them accumulate political power and wealth. Mexicans, who also have fled their homeland for political and economic reasons, have not been welcomed into the U.S. with any of the ease that Cubans have.
García plays a loving but extremely overprotective father, and he gets competitive with the Mexican father played by actor Pedro Damián. It turns out el mexicano is a lot richer than el cubano, like narco rich. He owns a soccer team, a brewery, lots of real estate and a giant yacht.
It’s refreshing to see Latinos on film who are successful and monied. Too often in film we are portrayed as poor immigrants, gangsters or domestic help.
Characters are often typecast in stereotypical roles, with 29.8% of characters portrayed as criminals, 39.3% participating in organized crime and 21.4% shown in depictions of violent crime, according to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s latest study.
They study found that Hispanic or Latino characters accounted for only 5% of speaking roles in 1,300 popular films. It also found that only 3.5% of leads in these movies released from 2007 to 2019 were Hispanic or Latino.
I do have one major critique of “Father of the Bride.” All the main Latino actors featured are very, very white, not just the Cubans but also the Mexicans.
There are no Brown or Black Latino leads in this film and that is disappointing. This is the same criticism that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie version of “In the Heights” received, rightfully so. But the whiteness of “Father of the Bride” is even more stark.
It’s problematic because our Latino community is diverse. We are not one race or one color. There are few chances we get to star in a Hollywood film and we shouldn’t be whitewashed.
In 2020, there were about 6 million Afro-Latino adults in the United States, and comprise 12% of the adult Latino population, according to Pew Research.
We have to acknowledge the legacy of colonialism and how in television, movies and other media, especially in Latin America, you mostly see the whitest Latinos.
This is why when Mexican indigenous actress Yalitza Aparicio starred in the film “Roma” and was nominated for an Oscar, it was so widely celebrated. Let’s also not forget that she still played a maid. Still it was beautiful to see her indigenous culture celebrated widely especially by U.S. Latinos.
That said, we still have a colorism issue in our own community. Many of us have been told by relatives to stay out of the sun because we might get too dark. In Mexico, I have been called “india” and it was meant as an insult.
Skin color is linked to greater Latino-on-Latino discrimination, according to Pew Research.
About four-in-ten Latinos with darker skin, 41%, said they experienced discrimination or unfair treatment by another Latino, while 25% with lighter skin color said the same. Hispanics with darker skin were more likely than those with lighter skin to say they experienced discrimination or were treated unfairly by someone who is not Hispanic, 42% vs. 29%, according to PEW. Around half of the Latinos polled, 48 %, said discrimination based on race or skin color is a very big problem in the U.S.
This is why when our community has the rare chance to be the stars on the big screen, we should be cast in all our beautiful diversity.