Now Ben Affleck Is Latino: Another Lost Opportunity for Hollywood

By Latino Rebels

Ben Affleck’s ARGO came out October 12 and it is already getting Oscar buzz. The movie, based on a 1979 CIA successful rescue of six American diplomats in Iran, is good. Very good. Affleck deserves the kudos, except for one thing: instead of casting a Latino actor to play the movie’s main character, Tony Méndez, Affleck cast himself. Once again proving that Hollywood only worries about Hollywood.

We were going to provide our take on the casting decision, but when we read what RaceBending.com had to say about it, we just thought that their post said it all:

A 2006 UCLA study from the Chicano Studies Research Center found that only 1.2% of lead roles go to Latino actors (contrasted against 82% of lead roles going to white actors.) Under the guidance of director Ben Affleck, the role of Tony Mendez would have been a great opportunity for a Latino actor to star in a stereotype-defying, heroic lead role…

People of color made history in the CIA, participated in the Beat Generation, cured deadly diseases and played Vegas, but the average person familiar with these stories wouldn’t know it from watching the movies. The cumulative impact of this kind of casting: In Hollywood, white actors depict minorities credited with reaching monumental, historic achievements. Actors of color cannot even expect to be cast in roles inspired by people from their own communities, and minorities remain invisible in their own stories.

You would think that someone like Affleck would have seen this as an opportunity, especially since he spent parts of his teenage years in Mexico (see video below to see Affleck speaking in Spanish) and then, of course, spent a few years with Jennifer López. It would have sent a cool message to Hollywood. But hey, what were we thinking: it’s Hollywood. Real change will only happen when Latinos—both inside AND outside of Hollywood—begin to drive and own the content process.

The whitewashing (no pun intended) of stories and history will always continue on the big screen. It has happened before and it will happen again. Here’s hoping that other creatives begin to realize that taking a risk or two about casting (really, Benicio wasn’t available?) will pay in the long run. Sure, ARGO will get is slew of honors and rave reviews, but for us it will always be known as “The Really Strong Movie That Should Have Had a Latino Play the Lead Character, Who Is Latino in Real Life.”

This article was first published in Latino Rebels.

The Latino Rebels are a collective of social media influentials, bloggers, marketers, journalists, poets, writers, producers, photographers, and marketers. We use humor, commentary, opinions, independent stories, cross-links to others blogs, and our social media platforms to share our universe.

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

Running while brown: How Julián Castro is navigating white presidential politics

Victor Landa June 25, 2019

EAST LOS ANGELES — By the time his plane touched down in California at the end of a whirlwind week, Julián Castro had set an early political benchmark in the […]

Advocates wonder: Where’s the outreach from Democratic presidential candidates to Latino voters?

Victor Landa

MIAMI — There is outrage over Trump administration policies that have torn migrant families apart and left some children locked up. There is pervasive fear of immigration raids. And there […]

LatinX Voters Will be a Core 2020 Voting Bloc. Are Democrats Paying Enough Attention?

Victor Landa August 1, 2019

DEMOCRATS RUNNING FOR president are awakening to the reality that Latinx voters, poised to become the largest nonwhite eligible voting bloc in 2020, are crucial to their chances of winning the […]

Segregation of Latino Students From White Peers Increased Over a Generation, Study Finds

Victor Landa

In 1998, the average Latino student in elementary school attended a school where 40 percent of her classmates were white. But by 2015, the average young Latino student was attending a school […]

Castro stands up for issues that matter to Latinos

Victor Landa

Wednesday night’s Democratic debate is the last call for what Vox termed the “mega-debate.” By September, the standards to qualify for the big stage will be significantly higher, so tonight was […]

Ethnic Cleansing in El Paso, Texas is a Warning for the Nation

Victor Landa August 18, 2019

President Trump owes our border community and all Latinos in America an apology for encouraging ethnic cleansing. He must take back his hate-filled words toward Mexicans, immigrants and asylum seekers […]

Anti-Latino hate is not new

Victor Landa September 6, 2019

The 21-year-old who murdered 22 people in El Paso added another chapter to the long history of anti-Latino violence in the United States. He pulled the trigger alone, but acted […]