GENTEFICATION, Simon que yes!
Updated: Apr 28
So there I was, como un pollo getting ready to roost for the noche. Nada to do, but channel surf thru Netflix and to my surprise, I see this picture of a wall mural with gente splashed all over it!
Wow, I hit the channel changer brakes and studied it. I thought to myself...un momento ese...I don't recognize these Raza actors...except the viejo, Joaquín Cosío. He's played mal hombre roles in the cartel movies I'd seen before. Do I want to peek at this series or just visit Ancient Aliens again to contemplate my true raíces. But I was quick to correct myself, saying, "Ok, a ver que pasa, with this Gentefied series."
You see I've seen all the Raza movies beginning with Gilbert Roland and Anthony Quinn in the 60's, to the early TV series with the "Cisco Kid." Most of the Hispanic ones lately seemed like generic versions of gringo T.V. hits to attract a Raza audience.
But not Gentefied! By the time I saw the third episode, I was hooked! Not since Robert Rodriquez's "Dusk till Dawn" series have I been pleasantly surprised with fresh Raza actors and a unique story-line...You know, the blood thirsty Chicano vampire types!
Sure Gentefied has its critics. Too much stereotyping, Tons of Spanglish. But it hit home with me, in a funny way and also not so funny. For example, the "are you a Mexican test," was hilarious but it hit a personal nerve. Si, I admit, I couldn't quickly identify 5 states in Mexico and I still can't grito como un chingon! Pero, thanks to the series, if someone calls me a pinche pocho or agabachado...I have a new (non-vulgar) response, "Pues, tu sabes que Coconuts are delicious."
The real beauty behind this series, is that it provided an avenue for Raza to strut their professional stuff! The creators, Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez, reached deep into their souls to find those heart grabbing moments when gentrification (the process of barrio renovation that conforms to middle-class norms) hits the community.
Gentrification is the gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, customs, knowledge. So.Cal. has seen this happen frequently from Compton to Echo Park and other neighboring communities.
It is the clashing of socioeconomic, class, gender and technology-related transformations, which collides with generational legacy and cultural traditions in the urban jungle. A national social osmosis crisis in communities of color today.
We should not ignore the fact that executive producer and director, America Ferrera is showing her talents behind the screen. And the fresh young actors of the series, Joseph Julian Soria, Kerrie Martin, and Carlos Santos, are sure to see their skills blossom. The career aspect of the series, itself, is the Gente-fication of the entertainment industry en reversa!
The opportunities for non-gender qualifying, non-traditional roles, that include a multi-lingual/cultural focus will grow as the entertainment industry and the rest of America realize the breadth, talent and $ that Raza are and always have been worth.
Gentefied, a firme series, is based in Boyle Heights, California that, like most other barrios, has always asked itself the same philosophical question:
When is a Taco, no longer a Taco?
A. When it's Taco Bell.
B. When there's too much crema on it.
C. When it's your Tio.
D. All of the above.