Friday, October 23, 2009

Dios "Mio Antonio" - The Latin Lover

Similar to many teenage girls in the U.S (and many of those middle-aged women out there) I am guilty of watching my fair share of trashy bachelor shows. The 20-some women chosen will make fools out of themselves to try to win the heart of the man, and the bachelor will narrow them down to one lucky woman eventually (with the fairest judging system of course.) I have sat back and dealt with this, until this fall when VH1 took it too far with their show “My Antonio.” It shamelessly plays up the stereotype of the Italian Latin Lover, and shows no substance or use for Antonio other then his good body and dimples.

This idea of the Latin Lover is traced back to the character of Don Juan. Believe me, Antonio is a regular Don Juan on this show and is portrayed as the ultimate womanizer. In the book, Beyond the Latin Lover, by Jaqueline Reich, he states: "In contrast to the Latin Lover, just being an Italian male was enough to secure a future as a 'Latin Lover' for Italian stars in Hollywood" (1: Reich, 29). Antonio definitely falls into this category, seeing as his whole life has been centered around show biz. The entire premise of the show is that he is stringing along these 13 women. The description under the first episode is “Antonio swims ashore to begin his quest to find true love.” The fact that he has to “swim ashore” onto the mainland in order to get to these women gives a familiar allusion to the waves of Puerto Ricans in the great migration (see video up until 30 or so seconds.) The episode starts off with him labeling himself as the “hunk with a heart” showing model shot after model shot. He even sends away a woman who works for NASA in favor of a playmate, which only works to enforce the notion of the Latin Lover only being interested in one thing: sex.

Although this show has Antonio cast as the main role (which is uncommon for Latinos), he is nonetheless typecast in the role of the Latin Lover with the producers banking on the age-old saying: sex sells. I cannot believe I am saying this, but this show has too much drama. Latino men are perceived as being suave, cunning, and passionate. This show does not prove this stereotype wrong by any means which is a shame given that the producers were given a perfect platform to change the way we view Latino men.

1 Reich, Jacqueline. Beyond the Latin Lover: Marcello Mastroianni, Masculinity, and Italian Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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