For the last few weeks, we have received several comments from our readers about the ongoing social media saga of Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. One of the major issues some of our readers kept mentioning was that the story would never gain traction with the national press. Tonight, however, The New York Daily News, one of Top 200 websites in the United States and one of the world’s top 700 sites, published a piece by Latina playwright Dolores Prida entitled “Hollywood goes bananas for stereotypes.”
In the piece, Prida recounts the many times movie and TV producers approached her to see if they could option her works. As she says: “[I] even received money for rights, but nothing ever came of it because I was unwilling to change characters and plot to fit a pre-determined idea of what Latinas are supposed to be.”
Prida then goes on to specifically use Valdes-Rodriguez’s recent battle with Ann Lopez’s Encanto Productions about the TV script adaptation of The Dirty Girls Social Club. It is pretty clear from Prida’s comments that she fully supports Valdes-Rodriguez. Here is how she closes the piece:
The blogosphere and social media has been abuzz in the last few days with another case of the disappearing real Latina character.
Alisa Valdés-Rodríguez, author of the 2003 best-selling novel “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” translated into some 10 languages, fulminated in her blog about the changes made to her characters and story for a television series pilot script.
Valdés-Rodríguez says she dislikes the script “because it is woven through with stereotypes and because it erased every single one of my African-diaspora characters, erased my Cuban-Jewish character, erased my only Dominican character, erased my main Puerto Rican character and erased my only lesbian character for no justifiable reason, changing them all into stereotypical characters more in keeping with persistent Hollywood cliches.”
The twist here is that the draft Valdés-Rodríguez read was written by three Latinas. Through their production company, they presented it to a major television network which shall remain unnamed, since this small-screen gran escándalo is now in the hands of lawyers and getting more convoluted by the day.
The unfathomable aspect of all this is that production companies or studios buy the rights to a property because of the success it has achieved as is, and then proceed to change the plot and characters into something unrecognizable.
Why not just commission scripts from scratch to fit their marketing vision? We writers would love to make some real money, and since the only other Hollywood Latina character is the ever-present Mexican nanny or undocumented maid, we should seriously consider channeling Carmen Miranda under the cover of pseudonyms.
After all, she was a lot more fun and had more talent, maturity and integrity than the bunch of tight-assed, sex-crazed, twentysomething generic Latina characters producers seem to prefer.