Actor Amaury Nolasco to Produce Documentary on the US Latino Vote

We received the following announcement today from the folks at El Voto Hispano. To learn more about the project (of which Latino Rebels and Latino Rebels Foundation is helping to promote) and give, visit the film’s Kickstarter:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The producers of the documentary film, El Voto Hispano, who are currently seeking funding on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, are pleased to announce the addition of Amaury Nolasco to the production team effective immediately.

AMAURY_01

“His experience as an actor, working on a wide variety of sets and in some of the most elaborate productions of the past years, combined with his vast network in Hollywood and within the Latino community will be invaluable to the success of our project. His addition will also help in our immediate goal to raise funds through Kickstarter”, says Producer Alessandro Pietri.

Amaury has agreed to not only help secure the proper funding for the film, but also play an active role in the project’s development and voter outreach initiatives over the course of production.

“I’m very proud to be part of this project.  For me this film is much bigger than something we go to the theater to see. It’s a movement. It’s an educative tool that will be around for generations to come to empower our Latino youth and teach them the importance of the democratic process, and that it’s ok to speak up and have a voice. I never had tools like this, therefore, for a very long time, I didn’t vote. Now I want to make sure others don’t make that mistake”, said the actor.

“Even if you don’t know much about politics, you have the right to be heard. This is not an exclusive club that only a certain elite group of people are allowed to speak. We are all in the same boat,” he added.

Nolasco first became active in politics during President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. Since then his passion for getting involved in the political process has continued to grow.

In fact, he says he had never voted, in the United States or his native Puerto Rico, until the 2004 Bush-Kerry election which Bush eventually won. According to him, his reason for not voting was not wanting to participate in a process he was not informed enough about.

“His newfound passion for political activism and creating awareness among Latinos is admirable. He wants to give other Latinos the opportunities that he didn’t have growing up. His interest in the project is not just professional, its personal. We’re lucky to have someone as passionate as he is on board”, says Producer and Director Gianpaolo Pietri.

These days Amaury seems more aware of what’s important to him politically, and what’s at stake for Latinos so he wants to get more involved. Working as a Producer on El Voto Hispano will give the renowned actor an opportunity to combine his passion for film with his newfound interest in finding his voice in politics.

Amaury sees El Voto Hispano as the perfect vehicle for him to educate others in a way that he was not about what the issues are, why they are important, and what the price may be for those who choose not to participate.

“I was like that before. I never got involved or wanted  to be heard because I thought I wasn’t  politically savy enough or that my knowledge of politics was not at par with everyone else’s. I never wanted to say anything because I felt I didn’t know enough. Until I had enough, and came out to vote for the first time on the elections of 2004. I was not proud that I had waited that long. But now I was on the playing field letting my voice, my opinions, my ideas be heard.  All Latinos should do the same! Your opinion counts,” concluded Nolasco.

ABC Cancels “Work It” Due to Poor Ratings

Yesterday, ABC pulled the plug on the Bosom Buddies ripoff show, 'Work It," after the second episode of the show garnered a pathetic 4.9 million viewers and just a 1.5 rating from the coveted 18-49 crowd, as reported by ZapIt!.

The show, which has been the target of the LGBT community as well as a grassroots Puerto Rican movement that is demanding an apology from ABC for its controversial Puerto Rican Drug Dealer Joe, really never had a chance. The writing was poor, the jokes were lame, and to quote Bart Simpson, it just sucked.

In the meantime, ABC has yet to issue any apology to both the LGBT and Puerto Rican groups, but it is clear that the show had no future and TV is better for it.

 

Don’t Worry: Nobody is Watching ABC’s “Work It” Anyway

For a select few of commenters who said that all this social media controversy about ABC's "Work It" show and its silly Puerto Rican Drug Dealer Joke would only give the show more publicity and higher ratings, this week's ratings for the show didn't increase at all, so that argument is moot.

As reported by EW.com

 

ABC’s quasi-controversial cross-dressing comedy Work It took a tumble in the ratings Tuesday night.

The show delivered 5.1 million viewers and a 1.6 rating in the adult demo — down 20 percent this week and down 27 percent from its lead in, Last Man Standing (7.9 million, 2.2). If/when ABC axes the show, it will open up another slot on the schedule, which might result in Cougar Town returning earlier than it otherwise would have (either on Tuesdays or another night).

 

 

READER POLL: What Do You Think of @Amaury_Nolasco and What He Tweeted Out on January 11?

So, after we posted yesterday's post about Amaury Nolasco's tweet, our community spoke and gave us their opinions. Some say that Nolasco should clarify more while others said let's move on and focus on ABC.

So what do YOU think?

GUEST POST by EdMorales.net: “Work It: The Reactionary Backlash”

 

Originally appeared on EdMorales.net. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Ed Morales is a journalist who has investigated New York City electoral politics, police brutality, street gangs, grassroots activists, and the Latino arts and music scene.  He has been a Latin music Newsday columnist and longtime Village Voice contributing writer whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Miami Herald,San Francisco Examiner, The Los Angeles Times and The Nation. He is a frequent contributor of editorial columns for The Progressive Media Project. For more about Ed (and his bio is IMPRESSIVE, click here).

 

 

Work It: The Reactionary Backlash

“Life would be much simpler if people who are subjected to persistent marginalization and disparagement weren’t so “sensitive” and just took their insults and degradation, or pretended they weren’t really about them. Persistently marginalized and disparaged people should not speak up because they are to blame for their own problems. Identifying with marginalized victimhood prevents them from enjoying the benefits of the American dream.”

These are the voices of the reactionary backlash against the idea of protesting the dehumanizing joke uttered by Amaury Nolasco in last week’s episode of the largely tasteless sitcom “Work It,” soon to be canceled by its creators, the American Broadcasting Company. The reactionary element that still has so much power in American discourse suggests that presenting “the other side of the story” involves the reasonable assumption that well, after all, Puerto Rico is a drug-riddled island, so is the joke really offensive?

A Huffington Post (Latino/a) column puts it this way:

The 3,515-square-mile island has an average of three violent deaths per day. According to U.N. figures for 2008, the island averaged 20.3 murders per 100,000 residents. Mexico, by comparison, had 11.5 murders per 100,000 residents in that same year. And the documented corruption of the island’s police force corruption has even lead to fears of it becoming a ‘narco state.’

The reality painted by these disturbing figures should be a focus of debate among Puerto Ricans, said Mariana Vicente, Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2010, in defense of Nolasco.

“We are not in a position to demand that the media guard our reputation when in our country we don’t even respect ourselves, brutally killing people, firing bullets in the air and so much violence in the home,” she told Primera Hora. “Let’s start out by caring for ourselves and demonstrating the contrary to the rest of the world.”

I’m not sure about the logic of setting up Ms. Universe as a spokesperson in a political debate, or someone to initiate a serious dialog, but i guess that’s what happens in a celebrity driven culture and the media outlets that promote it. It’s telling that the post uses a link to Fox News Latino to establish the idea that Puerto Rico is in danger of becoming a narco state, and not the more informative piece in the Christian Science Monitor, nor one of its major sources, the DOJ National Drug Intelligence Report , which clearly states that the increase in drug traffic in Puerto Rico has been caused by a shift by Venezuelan and Colombian drug traffickers to points in the Eastern Caribbean to avoid the DEA’s ineffective machinations. It is clear that the drug problem that has exploded in Puerto Rico is not self-generated, unless you think Puerto Rico is such an integral part of the US that it deserves partial blame for the largely disastrous decades-long failure known as the War on DrugsHere’s one argument against that idea: Puerto Rico has never had a single elected representative in Congress who could even exercise the right to vote for or against the disastrous failure known as the War on Drugs!

So, let’s have a debate on this: Should we agree or disagree on the deployment of the War on Drugs? We have no choice in the matter. Should we limit our own consumption? The major cause of the drug problem is the fact that Puerto Rico is a transshipment point for the distribution of drugs to the mainland US, and not the island population’s consumption of drugs. Should we ask Americans to limit their consumption of drugs? Wait a minute..we are Americans. If we stop firing bullets in the air, will that help the DEA shift the transshipment point somewhere else?

I won’t even mention how the current government cut 20,000 government jobs and used Obama’s ARRA (stimulus) funds as a way to boost the island’s employment figures even though their rhetoric claims that the private sector is the best hope for job creation. More jobs = less drug dealers. The absolute silence of the Puerto Rican government on the “Work It” controversy speaks volumes.

Finally, let’s talk about the drug dealers, who make up a tiny percentage of the Puerto Rican people. Let’s talk about how the Amaury Nolasco character was someone living in the U.S., and the fact the overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. have nothing to do with drug dealers in Puerto Rico. And let us note that while there have been some Latino characters in network television network shows over the last few years, I can’t remember a single one that was Puerto Rican! Not Ugly Betty, not Desperate Housewives, not Sofia Vergara. The last thing I can remember is that flag burning on Seinfeld, and because some of us chose to speak out they will never show that on the air again. And this really hazy memory of Freddie Prinze. So, when there finally is one, the first thing he says is “I’m Puerto Rican, I’d be great at selling drugs”?

This is not an insignificant grievance that can be compared, as this misguided Chicago columnist did, to the drug-dealing white suburban dealer in Weeds. (“Get a grip,” she says. “If you go around looking to be insulted, you’ll never be disappointed”.) But for every Mary Louise Parker weed pusher, there’s…well, there’s just about every other character on network television to contrast her with! The entire cast of Friends, The Office, Cheers, Seinfeld, Married With Children, How I Met Your Mother, Mary Tyler Moore, Will and Grace, Taxi, The King of Queens, Beavis and Butthead.

As a drug dealer, she is an exception. A shining example of American exceptionalism. The one who can deal drugs and remain attractive and upscale without being imprisoned. For Puerto Ricans, there’s Amaury Nolasco and…no exceptions.

We live in an era where synagogues are being trashed with swastikas, nooses turn up in parks and universities, people are given receipts in fast food places that read Lady Chinky Eyes, young people are committing suicide over their sexual identity, and our freely elected President has been portrayed in every racist way imaginable by right-wing Republican activists. While this backlash cannot be blamed on sitcoms, they demonstrate that somehow messages of intolerance are being transmitted with increasing velocity, and network television shouldn’t be part of laying the groundwork for this.

When is it going to stop? It’s certainly not going to stop if reactionaries discourage people from speaking out against these things, by pining away for a return to time when people weren’t constrained by “political correctness.” Their time, thankfully, is 30 years past.

Don’t Leave the Party Before Tasting the Cake: The Rebels Are Here to Stay

When we launched this web page on May 5, 2011, we issued the following mission statement that we would like to share again since this last week has been a crazy ride of new visits, new readers, new cross-links and new connections. As with any content page, when people show up late to the party, they might have missed all the activity that has happened before they got there.

So, as a service to our new readers who have found this page because of a silly drug dealer joke by a major television network or a Facebook photo that got over 30,000 likes in three days, we share this:

The Latino Rebels are a group of committed Latino activists, authors, bloggers, comedians, artists, filmmakers, and social media influentials who use satire, comedy, analysis, video interviews, writings, films, and just plain trouble-making to educate people about the life of the US Latino in the 21st century. Through our content, we will expose those so-called patriots who are quick to use ignorance and hate to spread lies about Latinos living in the United States. We will kill stereotypes with humor, insight, compassion and maybe a loud GRITO DE QUESO. We welcome all input, from the good and the bad. But remember, once you are with the Latino Rebels, the ride will be a bumpy one. ¡ÓRALE! ¡WEPA! ¡COÑO!

We started this company as a web page as a group of friends with roots in the following countries: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Perú, and Spain. We live in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Kansas City, Miami, Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Juan, and Ponce. We are all professionals living in the United States or Puerto Rico, and we felt strongly that we could use alternative media to present stories that mattered to a forgotten demographic, free of mainstream media influence, brand control, and paid ads. We were committed to paying our contributors, and as with any startup company, we might not pay on time, but we pay. That matters to us as professionals.

As a result of our little experiment, we have accomplished a lot in just nine months. Some of our highlights:

  • We have the BEST fans, followers, and readers ever! We totally understand that the Internet is crowded with so many pages and so many things, we are eternally grateful for the readership. YOU all make us better. And guess what? When things get a little crazy, your support and belief in us is golden.
  • Our stories have appeared in major news and established Internet outlets, including TheHuffPost, El Nuevo Día, Fox News Latino, and Drudge. All these stories that got picked up came from user suggestions or user-generated content. Citizen journalism lives, and it works.

 

  • Our overall network has produced over 500K views our content across all our content networks in just 9 months. We are now one of the United States' top Latino content pages on the Internet (check us out) as well as one of the most engaging (see our Facebook, we LOVE to talk with all our peeps, and on Twitter we are addicts). So basically, in just 9 months, we are in the top percentile of web pages in the world.

So for those who think we just focus on silly jokes about drug dealers, spend a little time with us. Read some of our other posts. We like to have fun and meet anyone who is in our network, yes, even the ones who tell us on a consistent basis to go back to Mexico.

We will continue to produce content that we feel is important to the readers who give us the content and content that is important to us. We have always said that we are not everyone's cup of tea, but if you like what you have seen, stick around. We will be growing.

And we will never forget that the Internet is not the only place to impact real change in this world, but it sure is a great place to bring like-minded people together so that great things can happen both online and offline.

In the meantime, ANYONE who is interested in sharing their ideas, blogs, poems, photos, videos, rants, raves, kudos, or criticisms, feel free. We are committed to responding to as many people as possible. We feel strongly that respectful and consistent responses to online profiles is the only way to go! Don't be a stranger! We want to share your world with our readers.

In the meantime, we have received TONS of comments about the ABC "Work It" fiasco. Sure, it appears that ABC doesn't care and we are still rooting for Amaury Nolasco to speak to his fans now more than ever, but one thing is clear: we won't stop. We will never stop.

Today's Puerto Rican Drug Dealer story could be a story about a Tucson Latino Veteran Gunned Downed By Police in His Home. We cover stories that our community wants us to cover. Maybe the mainstream media should learn from this and begin true two-way conversation (and we don't mean silly CNN IReports that just become the property of CNN.)

As for the critics who call us crazy and tell us to get a grip, we just sit back and play this video. Sure we are not Picasso and Dylan, but we are crazy and we love it.

 

In the meantime, since we want to truly state our position about where we stand as a company about ABC, our own @BellaVidaLetty weighs in:

As the petition surpasses the 600 signature mark, I am happy to witness the numerous conversations being ignited by this issue.  Conversations serve to stimulate ideas and come up with methods allowing the Latino community to come together to create solutions for positive change.  Other issues requiring urgent attention are now being brought to light.  This is all wonderful and necessary but please do not stop demanding the respect we deserve as contributing builders of this country until this particular issue is resolved.  These other issues each deserve their own platforms to be studied and acted upon.

 

The Real Issue

This petition is solely aimed at the executives of ABC who have abused their stronghold on media for far too long.  When one of the largest media corporations continues to denigrate Latinos living in this country by presenting solely negative stereotypes this creates a damaging imbalance.  It is an abuse of power.

There is never a time when it is justified for any Person, Corporation or Industry to abuse another human being.  How can a community progress with continued attacks to their reputation?

When a corporate entity with access to public airwaves fails to present balanced views that is a direct attack.  It isn't solely one line but the thousands before it.  It would be self hatred for a person to say anyone deserves this mistreatment.  More than just the one line, it was the millions before with nothing nice said in between.

This is the first step for Puerto Ricans to begin rebuilding a heavily damaged reputation.

Why Puerto Ricans

ABC has made attacking remarks specifically naming the Puerto Rican community.  We are well aware the same has been done to other communities which is why have added the request on the petition:

' to create a cultural sensitivity and tolerance educational program for ABC producers, writers and staff.'

Create the Future you want to see today

Never forget words are nothing without action.  If you see problems that need addressing I encourage you to take the steps to create positive change. If you do not feel comfortable taking action please support those of us that do.

Our actions are a long needed attempts to balance the scales and present a more accurate portrait of the people that have contributed and alongside many others to build this country.

If We Were the Publicist for @amaury_nolasco

Granted, when we first posted our initial piece about the now infamous Puerto Rican Drug Dealer Joke from the January 3 ABC premiere of "Work It," we suggested that the original joke must have been written in a sarcastic tone and that when the following scene was recorded, the sarcasm of the joke's original intent had changed.

We suggested that the recent social media firestorm by Puerto Ricans in both the United States and Puerto Rico had very little to do with the Puerto Rican actor who played the role of Angel, Amaury Nolasco. However, in the past few days, Nolasco has now been brought into the controversy and even though he was tweeting about the premiere of the show the night of January 3, Nolasco has gone into social media silence ever since the show was broadcast.

We can only assume that Nolasco has been quiet because he is being advised by his people that the best thing to do in all this is to not say anything, especially since the criticism he has received—from the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the Puerto Rican blogosphere to comments from profiles on Facebook, Twitter and this page—has been tough. The vast majority of fans and people who have discussed this topic are seriously questioning why Nolasco chose to say that line instead of telling his director that he would like to take a pass on it. Who know what is going through his mind, since outlets that have tried to get a comment from Nolasco are only getting a "no comment" from his publicist.

Amaury, if we can offer you some free advice, it is probably wise to speak out now and explain yourself. In the end, what are you losing by apologizing? One reader on our site suggested that "Puerto Ricans are a forgiving people" and an apology would go on a long way. Instead, by not saying anything, Nolasco has lost control of the story. A social media blitz is as devastating as any bad reviews, and "Work It" has gotten its sizeable share of such negativity. It is perplexing to us that Amaury won't even respond to all this. It is a mistake, and we hope he reconsiders, because if there is anything that is true about social media, no one person or profile or brand is better than any other person, profile or brand. Celebrity is no longer elevated. Amaury is now one of us and we want to know.

Nolasco's Twitter has been silent since January 4, the day after "Work It"

So, maybe Nolasco's publicist is reading this or maybe not. We don't know. Yet we will present a couple of things Nolasco can do right now to diffuse the controversy and regain some credibility again:

  1. Ask that ABC apologize: We understand that Nolasco is under contract and is technically working for ABC right now. But just like any employee who might notice something wrong in the workplace, Nolasco can do the same thing.
  2. Tweet out why you have been silent: Joke about it. Say something clever. Tweet out an "I'm sorry." Be sincere. Respond to the tweets people have sent you. Be human. Be cool. Take your lumps and move on.
  3. Make a video for tomorrow's filming in Chicago: How powerful would that be?
  4. Thank your fans for their comments and say that you made a mistake and that you learned from it.

The problem with publicists and public relations firms is that they still think that we live in a traditional media world, that networks control and shape. That is no longer the case, especially when Nolasco lost the opportunity to actually control the message from the very beginning. How cool would it have been if Nolasco tweeted out "Why did my character say that line? What was Angel thinking?" just seconds after the scene was aired? This whole issue would have disappeared.

But Nolasco is still quiet, and if he continues to do so, he will not improve his situation.

New York State Assemblyman José Rivera on ABC Puerto Rican Controversy: “Enough!”

The following statement, released today by New York State Assemblyman José Rivera, addresses the controversy surroudning ABC's January 3 broadcast of the network's new sitcom, "Work It," which contained a joke about Puerto Ricans as drug dealers that has caused a grassroots movement by New York's Puerto Rican community asking that ABC apologize for airing the episode

Enough! The Puerto Rican community once again became victims of racist abuse by the American media. Last Tuesday, January 3, ABC transmitted a new show called “Work It” in which a Puerto Rican character states “I am Puerto Rican – I’d be great at selling drugs.”


This is not the first time that the American media stereotypes and racially discriminates against Puerto Ricans. However, our community has always fought back, winning important battles against billion dollar media conglomerates. Oliver Stone’s 1980 film, Wall Street, originally had a scene in which Puerto Ricans are compared to cockroaches. In the 1990s, an episode of Seinfeld showed the character of Kramer stomping on the Puerto Rican flag during the Puerto Rican Day Parade. In both occasions, Puerto Ricans protested, and both Seinfeld and Stone apologized. Stone went on to eliminate the offensive remarks from the video and DVDs of the movie. This type of discrimination is not unique to these two examples and goes back to West Side Story and beyond.


The fact that in the 21st Century we still have to change the channel in order to prevent our children from hearing comments on TV and film that attack their humanity and self esteem is unacceptable. We should not live in fear of watching TV or going to the movies because we do not know when the next insult is coming. We demand that ABC apologize to the Puerto Rican community at the beginning of the next episode of “Work It” and that the President of ABC meet with Puerto Rican community leaders to create a plan in which, instead of discriminating against the Puerto Rican community, the network promotes the rich tradition and contributions of Puerto Ricans and Latinos in general. 

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pierluisi Calls Nolasco’s Joke “Offensive” and “Regrettable”

Today, during a Three Kings Day celebration in Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, the island's Resident Commissioner and a non-voting member of the US House of Representatives, specifically called out Puerto Rican actor Amaury Nolasco for his portrayal of Angel on the January 3 airing of ABC's "Work It" premiere.

Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi

Pierlusi's comments were published in Spanish on ElNuevoDia.com, the island's largest newspaper. He called Angel's joke as "offensive" and "regrettable." Here is the video:

 

This is an English translation of part of what END published today:

"That should disturb all Puerto Ricans, wherever they are, because you should not stereotype, do not generalize. There's a drug problem here as there is in other parts of the world, including within the United States," Pierluisi said.

"It was unfortunate. I hope that the show does not get repeated, that the program does not get broadcast again. It hurt, as [Nolasco] must have hurt all Puerto Ricans, who think that all Puerto Ricans sell drugs," Pierluisi continued.

Pierluisi also stated that for every Puerto Rican who fall into the trap of drugs, thousands of Puerto Ricans contribute to the quality of life of the island and the United States.

He noted that although he has not sent a letter to ABC, which broadcasts the program, to demand an apology, Pierluisi does support the statements of Puerto Rican Congressmen from New York, Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez, who already asked for an apology from ABC.

"I will support that and I will make public statements like I'm doing now," Pierluisi said.

The ABC fiasco has caused a social media frenzy.

 

ABC’s Puerto Rican Drug Dealer “Joke” Fiasco Spreads Through Social Media and Community

What was just five seconds of air time on a major network has turned into a social media campaign within 48 hours among the Puerto Rican social network. Just days after the ABC sitcom "Work It" premiered, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the Latino blogosphere have been buzzing about a toss-away joke that equates Puerto Ricans to drug dealers.

In case you missed it, this clip from "Work It" (a lame, unfunny Bosom Buddies rip-off that has already been panned by critics) will give you some context.

We have already shared our initial reactions to the joke, which was delivered by the character of Angel, portrayed by Puerto Rican actor Amaury Nolasco. Like we said last night, we are giving the show the benefit of the doubt, since we think that what might have been a sarcastic joke in written form became a lame and offensive joke when it was recorded.

Nonetheless, a grassroots movement out of New York City was immediately formed through social media and a small group of protesters stood in front of ABC's offices in New York City, demanding that ABC apologize. According to Julio Pabón, one of the campaign's organizers, the local New York affiliate WABC-TV has already apologized, but nothing has come out from the national network.

"We want apology from the network, who are the ones responsible for the airing of the show," Pabón said. "We have not heard from them yet."

Pabón will be appearing tomorrow morning with Rhina Valentín at 10 am on Bronx cable to discuss next steps, but he did tell us tonight that the group will be meeting with other community leaders to promote a formal response from elected officials. The group is also planning to demonstrate again next Thursday night, January 12, in front of ABC's offices. To watch the show online, you can click here: BronxNet Streaming (Select Channel 67/33 on home page.)

Also today, El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico's largest newspaper covered the story on END.com and reported that US Rep. José Serrano and Rep. Nydia Velázquez are demanding an apology from ABC. 

"This is unacceptable," Velázquez wrote in a statement. "ABC owes an apology."

The END.com article had received over 1,000 comments today before the newspaper closed commenting on their story.