Gringo in Mananaland

Posted by: | January 7, 2009 | Comments Off on Gringo in Mananaland

My initial thoughts on the film related back to a film class I recently took concerning Hollywood Cinema. As the narrator pointed out in “Gringo in Mananaland,” the reasons for the way Latin America was portrayed were for multiple purposes, mostly in order to engage and excite an audience by depicting a romanticized vision of a foreign world. However stereotypes and perceptions of Latin America have been constructed based upon these simplified portrayals. The problem with stereoptypes persists since the majority of audience members, most likely had no background or lacked familiarity with Latin culture. Therefore the viewer’s understanding of the culture was and is still formulated around these images, skewed facts and perceptions the movies provide their audience with. Although the portrayal of different cultures may be more accurate today, there are still perceptions and stereotypes in which the industry clings to, which may have to do with the audience members’ demographic. In other words, even if the directors or producers of these films had different perceptions of these cultures when some of these earlier films were made, they may have decided to portray Latin America in a overly romanticized way or oppositely, in a negative light in order to appeal to a more conservative audience.
It was interesting how the director decided to steer the audience’s attention by initially intoducing the film’s objectives but with time, the voice-over drops off. This allows for the audience members to formulate their own understanding of these older films perceptions of Latin America. In addition the narrator may have decided to just use images and dialogue to draw upon a certain message without the use of narration because the inaccuracy and portrayal of Latin America and their relationship with the U.S. is still prevalent, even today.
The film emphasized how the U.S. has repeatedly overlooked the people of Latin America as individuals with oversimplified portrayals of Latin America. The erotic depicition of the women of Latin America and as they described, “silly” traditions undermines the culture. The film industry gives birth to these stereoptypes by attempting to package the culture into a neat little box with a bow on top. On the other hand, perhaps initially this was the only way the U.S. could interact and make sense of the cultural differences between itself and Latin America.
Overall it seems that the film is trying to underscore the fact that the films’ portrayal of Latin America and the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America is in corrolation with the way the U.S. has always treated Latin America in real life. All of these films emphasize the U.S. as the more powerful, dogmatic force, which further insinuates the cultural traditions of Latin America as strange, foreign and wrong. The different films’ approach to portray Latin America from the perspective of the U.S. calls to mind manifest destiny.


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