[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: TV Shaping Perception

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TV Shaping Perception

I didn't watch the opener of the new CBS series Cane. Yeah, yeah I know. I'm probably the only Cuban who didn't bother watching it. It airs just past my bedtime, for starters, and frankly I don't have high hopes for it.

That being said...the debate over at Babalu over the influence of the show on how Cuban-Americans are viewed in mainstream America has been quite interesting. I can see the points made by those who feel that indeed the influence it casts on mainstream America is something to be concerned about. Unfortunately, too many people are too lazy to inform themselves based on facts, so they rely on the boob-tube to "educate" them.

However, I feel differently. If we're going to let lazy folks who's window to the world looks out to American Idol shape perceptions on Cuban-Americans, then we're in trouble. Big time. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many rosy pictures are painted about Cuban-Americans, there's always going to be someone out there who doesn't get it.

Frustrating? Damned right.

These fears could also be a result of underestimating mainstream American intelligence and common sense. I recall during my college days "up north" when Miami Vice was still a big hit, when people found out I was from Miami, they would often ask "Is Miami like what they show on Miami Vice"? They obviously weren't convinced, so they sought verification from a native. My answer was always, "sure I own a yacht and take weekend trips around town in my Ferrari." They got the message.

How do we counter this? First of all, no calls for canceling the program. That would play right into the eager hands of the anti-exiles. I say we turn this issue of perception-based-on-fiction on its head and start promoting ourselves based on FACTS. Can we reach the same audience that CBS can with a TV series? Of course not. However, if we didn't think we could make a difference by blogging, we'd be doing something else, like watching American Idol re-runs for example. It's WAY past time that someone in the Cuban-American community start a campaign that promotes Cuban-Americans. Our accomplishments, our rags-to-riches stories, our perseverance despite heartbreak, our service to the United States, etc. ad infinitum. It may seem arrogant to do such a thing, but what the heck, I'll take that chance if it means that mainstream America will have the opportunity to see and hear true stories from ordinary Cuban-Americans.

And you know what? I may actually stay up past my bedtime and start watching Cane.



Blogger Rick said...

Your opinion, Robert: Do you feel that Cane is "an instrument of propaganda" meant to "inflame public opinion" as George Moneo does (58:30 into the show)?


11:08 PM, September 26, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...


I'll have to go back to the broadcast to listen to that remark, as I don't recall the exact context in which George presented it.

You probably heard the segment when I called in and gave my opinion which basically agrees with Henry's and disagrees with Val and George, so you know that I don't think that the show is that big of deal when it comes to shaping public opinion.

Basically, I don't think CBS has any evil intentions here. They just want to get ratings, simple as that. If they did a series on a typical Cuban-American family such as mine, for example, the average viewership would be about 1 or 2 a week (and that's being generous). Obviously, they're going to shoot for something juicy and "entertaining", not something ordinary and bland.

12:38 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger Henry Gomez said...

Why does rick insist on being such a douchebag. Even with you Robert who has never said an unkind word about him despite his odious hypocisy? Isn't it obvious what you're thoughts are from the post?

Just a muckraker.

3:26 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger Timothy said...

A Show about our family would take in more than 1 or 2 people! LOL

4:38 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger circuitmouse said...

FYI - the show is written by a Cuban-American (!) ...they threw in enough culturally distinctive points to distinguish the characters from Latinos as a whole, and by class, even as to when they arrived in America (!) but what got me was the all too brief moment when they touched on Jimmy Smits' character being one of the Pedro Pan kids. That, and when his son told him he'd enlisted. Hopefully more of those kind of groundbreaking moments will be coming in the future, other than them lighting up cigars and drinking mojitos every five minutes...

I'd just as soon watch Rita Moreno as the matriach lead, but since Smits is also the executive producer... oh well.

My niece ran around singing the old Cafe Bustelo jingle (for a soap based on Big Sugar, it was an interesting product placement) - but it's on too late for me to watch with a cortadito.

5:41 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Robert, for the response. When you get a chance, take a listen, and tell me what you think.

Actually, the question I posed to you is essentially the exact same question that Henry posed of George Moneo after George made the comment. Follow along and you'll see that Val put Henry on the hot seat after Henry questioned George's response. But for once I have agree with Henry when his response to Val was, "Show me some evidence."

Yes, and I heard your call-in to the show, too. The voice of reason amongst all the shouting and arguing.

I did not watch the show, but I have to agree with you and Henry when you say that it's just entertainment. I don't expect anything from television these days. When shows like "Deal or No Deal" and some of the sitcoms are talked about as "hit shows," I lose interest and head back to the internet.


6:59 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:46 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

(repost of previous comment)


I went back and heard the show, and George did say that the show was an instrument of propaganda like the Battleship Potemkin was. Henry disagreed, which prompted Henry's response to Val, "I need to see evidence".

I still agree with Henry here. I don't know what the purpose of your first question was, but I have no problem admitting that I, like Henry, disagree with Val and George about CBS' premise behind the show.
We've disagreed on stuff before and we'll disagree many more times I'm sure. It doesn't change anything else regarding our views towards many other things which we wholeheartedly agree on.

10:37 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger Rick said...

The purpose of the question, Robert, was to get your opinion. You've provided it. It's all good.

Henry wants to name-call at every opportunity. Whatever. I agree with your views on this and I agree with Henry's.

But for clarification, I don't believe Henry really disagreed with Moneo. Rather, he said he needed to see evidence, which, as I stated above, was a reasonable response given that there has been a total of 1 show aired thus far.


11:11 PM, September 27, 2007  
Blogger circuitmouse said...

There's a joke in LA that you know you've truly assimilated into the American mainstream once your ethnicity/nationality, etc., has been misrepresented by Hollywood.

For another "removed from Miami" viewpoint, check out the article by Johnny Diaz in the Boston Globe on Sept. 23. There's a link from his blog at http://www.beantowncuban.blogs.friendster.com

2:55 PM, September 29, 2007  
Blogger Henry Gomez said...


I called Rick a douchebag because I call everything like I see it. And for to say that that I didn't really disagree with Val and George demonstrates how much of a douchebag he is. I hung up because I thought the conversation about it being an organized attempt at propaganda was ridiculous.

And I'll name-call Rick every opportunity I get because he deserves it for his dishonesty and his hypocrisy. If I said the sky is blue he'd disagree or maybe he'd agree and say "I don't think Henry really believes the sky is blue."

Like I said. Douchebag.

11:16 PM, October 06, 2007  

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