I’ll preface this post with a disclaimer: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. You folks have no idea how old, tiresome and demoralizing it gets to have to write post after post about John Boehner and Harry Reid every day. All. Day. Two less inspiring figures, it would be difficult to come up with. It’s enough some days to make a blogger ponder bolting the digital monastery and joining a traveling circus.
While cruising around the Fox News Latino website today, I came across a Nov. 21 piece about Salma Hayek. It turns out that the knockout actress laments her nude scenes in her 1995 breakout film Desperado. Her discomfort with that scene hasn’t prevented her from baring all on screen since then, so, it’s probably not anything she takes more seriously than having a bank account big enough to fund a small country or keep a couple of government union worker pensions afloat. Why she’s still talking about that one scene so many years later is…well, it’s probably a means to drive some Blu-Ray sales. Most people probably haven’t thought about that movie in forever. Call me cynical.
So her (probably insincere) lamentation over a nearly 20-year-old scene is first thing about the piece that sparked interest. The second, though, is actually less of a Salma self-promotion and more culturally interesting. Well, to me, anyway.
Hayek said that for a long time she was told her accent would remind crowds of their maids.
“I was also told, at one point, that my accent would remind people in Hollywood of their Mexican housekeepers,” she said in the interview.
Whoever said that to Hayek managed to pack an awful lot of condescension and stereotyping into one comment.
They demeaned her to her face, ignoring the earlier success of actors and actresses from all over the world who have enjoyed massive success in America going at least back to Desi Arnaz. I know, he was Cuban. We’re talking accents here, and in Salma’s case hers is part Mexican, part Iranian. The point is, accents don’t really get in your way in America. They haven’t for a very long time now. Hayek got the ultimate American revenge by succeeding anyway.
Most Americans don’t have housekeepers, Mexican or otherwise. We can’t afford them. Millions of us don’t even have jobs at all. So that’s one thing the Hollywood exec got wrong, likely due to living that elite lifestyle most Americans only dream of. But notice, the comment was directed at Hollywood people, not necessarily the rest of us. Isn’t that interesting? Her accent might have limited her success, because people in Hollywood are racist and will be reminded by her that they are exploiting the masses, or something. That is what the comment implies.
For many Americans, I’d venture most in the border states though there’s no way to determine, a Mexican accent does not make us think of a housekeeper. If hearing a Mexican accent reminds us of anyone, and it probably doesn’t, it may remind us of our neighbor, people we work with, parents we know from the local school where our kids go or who are parents of our kids’ friends, or the folks we attend church with, or any number of other people we flyover Americans encounter all the time but never stereotype, including our own selves. In other words, it’s entirely unremarkable to hear a Mexican accent to most Americans. Hearing one probably doesn’t remind most of us of anything in particular.
As for Salma Hayek, well, reactions to hearing and seeing her on screen range from jealousy to slack-jawed admiration to outright lust. Her accent is just alluring. Any Hollywood exec who couldn’t immediately understand that belongs in another business.