Opinion: A Review of PBS’ ‘Latino Americans’


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To coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month, PBS and V-me television will air the documentary series “Latino Americans,’ from late September through October.
According to a review by Angelo Falcon in a commentary for the National Institute for Latino Policy, “It is a sweeping three-part, six-hour look at 500 years of Latino history in the United States. As is usually the case with such an ambitious project, the results are mixed.”
Falcon said since television has neglected the topic for so long, it is trying to do too much in a single documentary, with the results being at times disjointed and uneven.
A companion book, “Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation” by Ray Suarez, does fill in some of the gaps.
“In presenting the history of and challenges confronting Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and Central and South Americans in the United States, the treatment of Latino Americans in each of these communities ranges from the detailed to the cursory. As the largest Latino group by far, it is appropriate that Mexican-Americans get the lion’s share of the attention and more detailed treatment. On the other hand, while the Cuban experience is also well developed, that of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Central and South Americans are minimized,” Falcon said.
The series uses celebrities, including Rita Morena and Gloria Estefan to appeal to larger audiences. The technique works at times, but does become a “crutch” at others.
Falcon suggests that this program may be a way to reopen communication with PBS about its responsibility to the Latino community. It also may inspire dialogue among diverse Latino nationalities.
For more on Falcon’s views, visit www.latinopolicy.org