Saturday, April 23, 2016

Core Post #5: Negron-Muntaner and Jennifer's body

Negron-Muntaner’s article, “Jennifer’s Butt,” analyzes the stardom, culture, and identity of Selena Quintanilla and how it relates to Jennifer Lopez’s rise to stardom in her famous lead role in Selena. Negron-Muntaner concentrates on the criticisms and concerns felt by many of Selena’s fans that Jennifer Lopez, a Puerto Rican actress and performer, was wrongly cast in the beloved Chicana's role. Lopez’s response to much of this criticism was to emphasize that Selena and her share a common bond by both growing up as Latinas in America and beyond that she fit the role’s 'required' physicality. She repeatedly discussed her curves and body type that’s different from the white mainstream Hollywood.

I think in this moment in Lopez’s career, Negron-Muntaner explores the contradictions and "leaky" qualities of Lopez’s stardom and face of Selena. Throughout, Lopez’s career, Lopez wields her body 1) as a sign for cultural pride 2) as a revenge against a “hostile cultural gaze” and 3) as “economic exploitations implicated in racism,” which Lopez has obviously experienced from the large amounts of money given to her for roles that exploit her race and body. (Looking at you, Out of Sight.)  Overall, Lopez’s star image grapples with these three lines of action.  Lopez’s body offers a space to reclaim Latina beauty in a ultra-thin, white America. Her body is a punch to the white face the mainstream (and Hollywood excutives that don’t believe in or fund projects/actors/writers of color.)  But at the same time, white American often uses Lopez’s body (and other bodies) as a space for denial – a denial of racism, a denial of pain.

Negron-Muntaner points to these complex issues in this quote:
“It was precisely the body that proved to be the most compelling way that Lopez and others found to speak how “Latinas” constituted as radicalized bodies, what kind of cultural capital is associated with these bodies, and how the body surfaces as a sight for pleasure, produced by interjections of power, but not entirely of it’s own control.” (185)

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