Sunday, September 29, 2013

Too Much For T.V.?

As a Hispanic American that is fluent in both English and Spanish I find myself sometimes switching between both English and Spanish television. While watching a Hispanic network, I got sucked into watching one of those “craziest crimes” countdowns. Before I knew what was happening, I’d seen footage of a man get blown away in a suicide by cops scenario, a woman stabbed multiple times by her husband in public as people passed them by and a man on fire running from a car after a high speed police chase. “What the capital F am I watching?!” was all I could think to myself.

The images were insanely graphic and massively traumatizing even though they were behind a screen and practically worlds away. I couldn't believe I’d actually seen all of that on television! Not long after, I came across a Spanish newspaper at work that had a close up of a man lying bloody and lifeless after a bombing on the front page! In America, the media is known for placing its metaphorical hands over its viewer’s eyes during the really scary moments. This is how we end up with those cheesy reenactments on crime shows. You know which ones I'm talking about. The ones with the slightly more attractive actors portraying the real life victims. In Hispanic media, not so much. If footage is available, they show it. I began to start noticing a pattern.

On our local news stations, really graphic or violent content footage was usually left out. On Hispanic networks like Univision 23 or Telemundo, I see less of this censorship. For instance, in the recent South Florida double homicide that led to a car chase and resulted in the horrifying death of a mother, you can see an example of this. 

Besides the the language, I noticed one significant difference in the reporting of this story. The channels in Spanish showed the entire car chase including when the car was hit and the woman was ejected from her vehicle. On American news stations, they cut right before and right after. While there are far better examples of this out there, I wanted to use this example because it is recent and easily accessible.

View comparisons:

NBC coverage here (cut to :42)

Telemundo coverage here (cut to :11)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Hyphenated American

There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Ouch. As someone who identifies as Cuban American, which is pretty much just American and a little something more, I have to wonder if Teddy would feel the same were he still around today. By now you might have noticed that I did not hyphenate the Cuban American bit in the opening of this post. While a tiny little line may not seem like it makes much of a difference, to a lot people, it actually does. Particularly, if you happen to be one of those “Hyphenated Americans.”

(hy·phen·at·ed A·mer·i·can)


US informal
  • an American citizen who can trace their ancestry to another, specified part of the world, such as an African American or an Irish American (so called because terms like African American are often written with a hyphen).
Some people, feeling they belong equally to both their culture of origin and their current country of citizenship, combine both countries with a hyphen, showing that they identify as both simultaneously. On the other hand, some hyphenated Americans choose not to hyphenate the two cultures and use the culture that precedes American as simply an adjective. For example, Japanese Americans use Japanese to simply describe what kind of American they are while a Japanese-American identifies as both Japanese and American at the same time.  

You might be thinking to yourself, “Ok, so what’s the big deal?” The current debate over the Hyphenated American goes a little something like this: One side of the argument is that there is no such thing as Hyphenated Americans at all. Like good ol’ Teddy said, the true American is just an American, anything else is not really American. I guess you can say that it’s kind of like a burger. You can argue that a real burger is made of meat and a veggie burger would be your Hyphenated American. Now, the opposing side of this argument claims that saying a veggie burger isn't really a burger is completely false. The opposing side says the Hyphenated American is an even better burger for its vegginess!

As someone who was born and raised in 'Merica and feels as American as I can imagine an American feeling, I identify as Cuban American. Why? Well, because on top of being a lover of hot dogs, the fourth of July and reality television, I also speak Spanish, enjoy rice and beans and the sight of a cooked pig on Christmas thanks to having Cuban parents.

While I get where both sides of the debate are coming from, I have to agree that I am indeed a veggie burger. I don't feel that makes me any less of an American as the next burger. Also, on behalf of all my fellow hyphenated Americans I'd like to say, "Lighten up!" You better believe I wouldn't trade my fourth of July barbecue for another country just because I have an adjective in front of American. 

[Insert salute to flag here]

If you want to read the actual paper published in the New York Times after Theodore Roosevelt gave his speech, check out the link below. It will lead you to a really neat copy of the actual article. Enjoy!

New York Times Article