Mexico Front and Center at Oscars: Social Media Celebrates and Criticizes at Same Time

This all started last night when one of our Latino Rebels admins posted the news about Alfonso Cuarón winning Best Director for “Gravity,” making Cuarón the first Mexican filmmaker to win an Oscar (although some want to falsely call it an Emilio). The post went viral, but it also got some additional comments from our community:

From Fusion’s Manuel Rueda (cool dude): “Another Mexican Citizen won today.. Lupita Nyongo won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.. (She was Born in Mexico DF to Kenyan Parents) http://www.excelsior.com.mx/funcion/2014/03/02/946426

From Jose Bermudez: “Awesome! And don’t forget Lupita was born in Mexico too”

From Jorge Armando Alonso Rios: “Emmanuel Lubezki born in Mexico city also won an Oscar tonight for best cinematographer! Three Mexicans took 4 Oscars tonight, way to go!!!!”

Comments started pouring in, and when we did more checking online, Mexican pride was all over several feeds. The Twitter profile of the U.S. Embassy to Mexico even weighed in:

Before the Oscars, Nyong’o, born in Mexico City before heading back to Kenya with her family, has always been up front about her birth country:

“I was born in Mexico because my father was teaching at a school in Mexico City,” the 30 year-old actress explained. “I was born during the third year he was there. And when I was 16, I returned to Mexico to learn Spanish. I lived in Taxco, Guerrero and attended the UNAM, the Education Center for Foreigners. [I] lived there for seven months and I loved it.”

Nyong’o, who answered all of the interviewers questions in Spanish, also spoke about what it was like to move from Kenya to Mexico as a teen and why she fell in love with the country.

“Mexico was very strange to me, coming from Kenya, but I found such friendly people and fell in love with the food,” the Oscar-nominated actress told CNN en Español. “To this day, I love eating steak tacos before going to the red carpets.”

She also said this: “I still have a lot of friends [in Mexico] and I hope to return soon. I miss Mexico.”

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All this Mexico reaction led to a very interesting and honest discussion about what many saw as national pride. The Mexican press, as you might imagine, ran with it:

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For some, Cuarón’s win wasn’t a “win for Mexico.”

Cuarón even addressed it:

Lupita’s win raised issues of race and identity:

In the end, such news addresses how identities are just social constructs:

If people want to celebrate Mexico, go for it. We think stories like Nyong’o’s will become more common. Does the mainstream Mexican press show a bit of its hypocritical side in not addressing the ironic subtexts of Nyong’o’s accomplishments? Yes. Does it mean that we should be denying her African identities? Of course not. Biculturalism is a positive, and if Nyong’o shows a love for her birth country, that is a huge plus. It changes mainstream views and challenges conventional thinking. She is no “honorary Mexican,” but instead a Mexican-born actor named Lupita who roots are from Kenya. That is indeed something to celebrate.

Like Lupita said last night: “I am Mexican and Kenyan at the same time. I have seen that they are fighting over my nationality, but I insist I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by tacos with roasted meat.”

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