The “Mad Men” Latino History Lesson and Why @LatinaMagazine Failed With This Piece

Apr 3, 2012
10:51 pm

Things must be really slow at Latina magazine these days. Two weeks ago, in preparation for the premiere of the new "Mad Men" season, Latina took the time to waste some of its editorial space on a non-story that basically stretched the Latino connection when it published the following: "A MAD MEN LATINO HISTORY LESSON."

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Why? Talk about putting a square peg into a round hole. Here is how Latina justified this piece:

Mad Men season 5 premieres this Sunday, March 25 on AMC. The hit tv show gets bigger and bigger each year and has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon. At first glance, it doesn't seem that the series has anything to do with Latinos, but it is set during some of the most important moments in Latino history. Let's take a look at what's happening in the Latino background of Mad Men

The piece then proceeded to list Castro's Revolution, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK's assassination, and so on. This piece was so fluffy, it even made mention of the following: "The new season starts in May 1966, only a few months before the United Farm Workers was formed, a pivotal moment in U.S. labor history and Mexican-American history. Latino leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were at the forefront of that movement and inspired Latinos for decades to come.

Yes, because when we watch "Mad Men," that is what we think about: the UFW movement.

The connection was weak, concocted by the silly "Latino angle" that editors try to spin on readers. And even if it even tried to present "Latino history," Latina failed in even presenting a full picture of Latin America in the 1960s. There was so much more than Cuba and grape boycotts. We can use Google, too, to find a few facts and publish a piece.

You know what would have been a better story? Actually exploring why a show like "Mad Men" doesn't even explore any real issues when it comes to Latinos. However, if the new season is any indication, the lily-white cocoon of the Mad Men might just be changing, as it finally introduced its first African American character in the season's second show and hinted that it might start exploring issues of race and class.

Dear Latina, leave the history lessons to the historians. Stick to J-LO and William Levy. Write about what you know. That is the formula you should stick to, but then again, with so many media options out there, maybe Latina is just taking more risks, even when they don't know what they are talking about.