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The Hispanic Image in Hollywood

A Postcolonial Approach


Jorge Barrueto

The Hispanic Image in Hollywood: A Postcolonial Approach offers an in-depth analysis of how Hispanics are represented in American cinema. Film production is a reflection of American historical processes that have defined Hispanics and American mainstream identity as oppositional forces in the domestic political establishment. Hispanic difference, as depicted in film, is understood as the by-product of Western philosophy, Western science, territorial expansion, colonialism and American nation building, wherein Hispanics have been identified as the antithetical, ubiquitous Other. More precisely, specific Hollywood films not only mirror American history but also a variety of political discourses that have defined Hispanic identity. Thematic categories of American history used to construct Hispanics reflect, in many ways, a deep-rooted, Eurocentric, colonial worldview. As the research of this book clearly shows, film depictions of Hispanics have created negative visual taxonomies based on gender, race, and class.


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Chapter One: The Making of Tony Montana 17


Chapter One The Making of Tony Montana hen Oliver Stone signed the contract to write the screenplay for Scarface (1983), he seemingly got excited; an old dream had finally materialized. As he stated in an interview, he had wanted to make a film about Latin gangsters and the cocaine trade for years, but had not been able to produce it. In recalling the time when he was about to write the screenplay, Stone talked about his film project and his personal problems, especially his own addiction to cocaine. He confessed that his old goal had been to create a “sexy” film about “a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster.”1 After securing his role as scriptwriter, Stone moved to Paris; there he rented a room, and began to write. Months later, as he was trying to kick the cocaine habit, he had a finished product. Scarface was born. Directed by Brian De Palma, Scarface tells the story of Antonio Montana (Al Pacino), a Cuban refugee turned cocaine dealer in Miami. The narrative centers on Montana’s violent rise to power and subsequent fall in the drug underworld; his story is a morality tale of greed and punishment and the product of what is perceived to be the Hispanic tendency to crime. In the story, Hispanics are framed as outsiders and their Otherness is seen in the primitivism, atavism and the violence which the narrative attributes to Hispanic culture. Alongside these tropes of difference, the film reworks issues of American history and politics...

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