Selena is a biopic of the Grammy Award-winning South Texas singer whose life tragically ended just as she was taking Tejano music into mainstream US America, México, and Latin America. The movie uses Selena’s voice in the soundtrack and is a representation of her most famous live concerts. Made with her family participation, the film focuses on her upbringing as a Chicana and her family member’s negotiations with their desire of keeping their heritage alive and achieving success in the US.
ASYNCHRONOUS ASSIGNMENT (Deadline 11/16 before the class)
1. Watch the film Selena (Gregory Nava, 1997) on HBO Max or rent it on YouTube
2. In the comment section down below answer ONE of the following prompts (2oo-words minimum).
What factors from Selena’s life and career allowed her to achieve stardom? Refer to specific scenes and/or the plot.
By referring to this scene and other sequences, discuss how the film tackles common identity dilemmas of Chicanx people.
Discuss how director Gregory Nava conveys Selena’s deep connection with the audience by using editing techniques, juxtaposed screens, and Jennifer López’s performance.
Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about Selena do you want to bring into the discussion?
21 thoughts on “Asynchronous Blog Post on Selena”
This scene spoke out to me in many different ways because it is absolutely true. Growing up as a Chicano in America, I have always had such great pride in my Mexican identity and I truly believed that I was a proud Mexican-American. I speak Spanish, I listen to music in Spanish, I love my food, and even study the history of my culture. I genuinely believed I was able to relate to my Mexican side of my family and fill in the void of not being accepted as a person of color in the United States, judged by people who thought less of me just because my parents were born on the southern side of the border. I felt more Mexican than American, and for a while, I leaned more to my Mexican side than my American side, but once I went to Mexico for the first time, I realized I am not as Mexican as I thought I was. The kids saw me and said my Spanish was off especially since I could not roll my r’s. They lived very different lives from me, and they believed I was rich. I was embarrassed to pull out my iPhone because everyone was living in poverty and had to work just to have food on the table. On my trip there they even called me gringo, and it made me laugh because people that are usually white are called gringos. I was so confused about who I actually was because if I’m not accepted in the United States for being Chicano, but I’m also so unfamiliar with the culture in Mexico to the point where I seem like a stranger to the land, where do I belong?
Hey Brandon, thanks for your lovely response to the movie. I am a big fan of selena, and I’ve seen this movie many times. I also am mixed Chinese/Italian, so I somewhat (although not entirely) relate to the struggles of trying to bridge the gap between two cultures. I feel like being Mexican-American is its own thing, and you can draw on both mexican and american cultures, but really your community is going to come in the form of other’s who know your struggle. For example, selena was able to relate to other chicanos better than she was to mexicans or americans. Her father takes the approach of: “don’t try to embrace your mexican side and pretend you are more mexican than you are” but she wins over the mexicans by being herself. She says, “muy ‘Excited!’” and I think that this is a very appropriate example of how one crosses cultures. Selena does not need to be mexican for mexican people to love her, and she does not need to be american for americans to love her, she only needs to be herself and share her authentic love and music. If you were wondering where you belong, I would say you belong with the people that treat you the best and can understand you. That’s really all the home is.
I actually have similar life experience and totally understand the feelings. After living here in US for a 12 years every time when I come back to my home country , I and my circle relatives friends have more and more differences in the life views. The things that we used to count normal in here in my home country can be considered as something out of the average range , and if you tend to have some of those things , people will look at you differently, mostly as a stranger, that can be very upsetting but overtime when you learn how to look only on the good part of it you can find a balance.
I can not relate to the scene because I’m not Hispanic/Latina, but I have a lot of friends that are, and they have told me about the amount of discrimination they have faced. Many of my friends who speak Spanish have a thick accent, and some people make fun of that because they’re not used to hearing that type of that accent around them. I remember one incident in High School, where my friend got called tacos because she was “Mexican,” it bothered me, so I stood up to that bully and told him to back off. People often do not understand that it doesn’t matter where a person is from; they shouldn’t be called names just because they’re immigrants. Another incident I remember my friend was telling me about was that a person told him to go back to his “country and stop taking our jobs,” even though he did not do anything to that person, which sounds ridiculous because immigrants have a right to live better. Discrimination and bullying have always existed towards Hispanics/Latinas and other immigrants because American’s believe we are taking their jobs, or the way they are brought up here is different, so they do not know how to react to immigrants.
I agree with you on this and would like to add on. Growing up in Woodside, Queens my whole life, I have been surrounded by hispanic/latino individuals. I have witnessed and experienced the racism that used to take place and the harsh stereotypes that were related to individuals of those decent. Incidents such as my hispanic friends were made fun of by talking about how they don’t have green cards and how they all crossed the border. It is honestly saddening and depressing how society treats immigrants and in this particular case, it was being a hispanic decent. Adding on, another example of this would be of how they would call them by racist names, such as “Juan.” There were many examples that shaped up racism and discrimination that took place at that time and till this day still goes on. We must work on fighting through this and finding a peace and positive attitude towards individuals of all kind, no matter the background, skin color, ethnicity and so on.
Some factors of Selena’s life and career that allowed her to achieve stardom were her drive to succeed and can do attitude, her family background and support, her talent, identity, humbleness and charisma. From a young age, you can see that she had always had the talent to be successful as a singer, and everyone else also recognized that about her. She also worked really hard, despite losing out on her childhood, at her father’s insistence, to become more well-known in the industry by doing many concerts and traveling to different states and also Mexico. There was also the fact that she was Mexican American and bilingual, which provided her access to a larger audience to support her music because she could sing in both English and Spanish and appeal to both cultures. In terms of her family’s background, we can see how her father’s failures in his music career really motivated him to do everything he could, so Selena would reach heights he never could. Another big factor to her success was also the fact that she was not conceited or arrogant, but instead was a really humble person regardless of having so much fame and recognition. This is a good thing for an artist, as connecting with your fans will give you a lot of support in the long run because that way they do not seem unapproachable or distant and instead are looked at as a role model.
I agree with your point that Selena’s identity of being Mexican-American and bilingual provided her access to a larger audience to appeal to both cultures. Selena’s ability to speak both English and Spanish played a crucial role in this, by connecting her with the Latino audience. The impact of Selena and her music along with her ability to speak Spanish helped connect with her Latino fans in a impactful way. We saw this after the tragic death of Selena, when fans came out to mourn her death. Connecting to the Mexican-American community, Selena gained more stardom because her fans too viewed her as one of them. I feel like this is because they related to Selena by speaking both English and Spanish and being born in the U.S. The impact that Selena had on her fans are portrayed in the movie Selena when her fans found out that she was at the mall. In the scene when people were notifying each other we saw people speak English (portraying the Mexican-American population perhaps), but also people were speaking to each other in Spanish – depicting the Latino fanbase of Selena.
The film tackles common identity dilemmas of chicanx people by showing the struggles faced by them growing up in an area surrounded by predominantly white people. In the clip we see Selena’s father speak to his children about making music for the people in Mexico. Selena then goes on to say that she feels too Hispanic for the English speaking fans vs also feeling too white for the Spanish speaking people. She was raised in Texas and once she noticed she needed to sing in Spanish, she had to learn how to speak this language. This loss of language mostly happened after the Chicano movement, many students had felt as if they needed to become more white and refused to teach their kids Spanish due to the fact of discrimination that their parents faced. It is shown that her father had been a second generation Chicano and knows both Spanish and English. I don’t refer to myself as chicana although I am a second generation Mexican American because the term originated by Cesar chaves and Dolores Huerta who had some flawed origins of immigrants. According to past reading I had discovered that he was an advocate for strong border security because he felt that undocumented immigrants were breaking his strikes. I feel like this is not something to be proud of. In addition, mostly born New York Mexican Americans don’t refer themselves as chicanas because of how distanced they are to Mexico, compare to los angles, California or Dallas, Texas.
I do agree with your point that the chicanos felt like they needed to americanize themselves more in order to be accepted into society. It’s actually interesting to see how Selena learning Spanish actually gave her an advantage and helped her stardom because she appealed to both Chicanos and Americans, and those who are descendants of both. Your commentary about Cesar Chaves flawed definition on chicanos, but I have noticed that in New York at least, the Mexican people I know and their family don’t refer to themselves as chicanos. I looked up the difference between chicano and Mexican; google said that chicano simply meant a person born from Mexican parents who came to the U.S/ first generation immigrant, but according to LA times, “Chicano is more of an aggressive, proud and assertive political and cultural statement than Mexican American.” Their definition made more sense to the distinction, but Im still a little confused as to why distance plays a role in someone referring to themselves as Chicano.
Aside from this, it was nice to see how Selena stuck to her roots through her music, even though English was a more dominant language for her. It was nice to see how she united communities and people from all over the country and Latin America, and without a doubt if she were still alive today she would be one of the bigger artists of the decade(s) such as JLo (who ironically enough plays her in the movie).
The scene depicts Selena wanting to perform her songs in Mexico for the first time and her father, Abraham, expressing that she might not be ready to perform where her family is originally from. Abraham drew this conclusion because he knew that although Selena could sing in Spanish, she was not perfectly fluent in the language. Knowing this he assumed that upon arriving in Mexico, many people would want to speak with Selena, but would judge her for not speaking her native tongue perfectly. Including this scene, highlights the difficulty of defining one’s identity. Like many first or second generation families, Chicanx people can struggle with balancing their American and Mexican culture. Due to the negative stereotypes held against Mexican people in America and the negative emotion associated with being Mexican-American, it can cause one to feel inadequate in both cultures. Therefore, the lack of acceptance in both cultures pushes them to constantly feel the need to prove themselves as enough. As Abraham described in the scene, he feels that being a part of both cultures has forced Mexican-Americans to know about important Mexican and American history or figures, so that they are well equipped when engaging with other people from these countries. Knowing this background knowledge could help with fluidly interchanging between both American and Mexican culture.
Selena’s short-lived stardom made her a prominent figure in Mexican/American culture. The influence she had on the culture still plays as a major factor today. As her father said in the film, no other woman has made it in that genre before her. Some factors in her life and career that made her achieve stardom include, her father. Yes, some people might say he was too intense and hard on her as it was portrayed in the film, but he saw a star and didn’t want anything to prevent her from becoming that. That push he gave Selena helped her succeed and keep her going while being set on one goal. It especially helped that the father knew about music and was a musician back in his day. As for her career, her interest in learning Spanish to succeed in singing made the audience lover her and appreciate her. This was evident in the scene when she was interviewing for the first time in Mexico, and they were afraid of her Spanish, but she nailed it. Another factor is that the music she sang were big hits in both Spanish as well as in English. So the fans were not just Spanish but mixed.
In the scene, Selena is excited about wanting to sing her songs in Mexico, but her dad isn’t too sure about letting her do that because although she can sing well in Spanish, she can’t speak it very well. I think this a common issue among Chicanx people because although their parents might be from Mexico and only speak Spanish, their children are forced to learn English more since it’s the only language used in schools in the US. There’s this struggle about whether they can fully identify with their Mexican side or their American side. Mexicans tend to not be so accepting of Americans especially when it comes to Mexican-Americans so it makes it harder for them to find their place. When Selena’s dad mentions that they have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans it shows that you weren’t able to be part of both groups or identify with both at the same time without being criticized or judged. By Selena pushing to go to Mexico, it shows that she didn’t care about how others would view her and instead wanted to focus on being able to expand her audience and have all Latinx people connect over her music and get over the minor differences that they have.
In this scene Selena, her brother and her father talk about a very real issue that a lot of American Hispanics face which is that of identity. It is difficult to for us to feel like we fit in or that we are accepted by our country or by the homeland of our ancestors most times it is due to language barriers, such as Selena had due to her not being fluent in Spanish despite being a Chicana, and finding a balance in cultural differences, such as we saw with Abraham and his band when they could not sing music that is part of their Hispanic culture. I have faced these difficulties as Mexican-American, although I know how to speak and understand Spanish, I am not fluent in my parent’s native language and because of that when I visit my family in Mexico, I always have this feeling of not fitting in because of the communication limitations. Sometimes they make offhand comments about mispronounced words which can sometimes further my disinterest to even try. Mexicans may say I’m a gringa because I don’t speak like them, dress like them or have the same upbringing as them and in the U.S. I face challenges also because of stereotypes that come along with Hispanic, both racial and cultural. Although many can relate to these identity dilemmas it’s not a topic that is addressed very often so it was very refreshing to see it being addressed and represented by someone that was and still is so important in the Hispanic community.
In the film Selena, director Gregory Nava conveys Selena’s deep connection with the audience during her performance in Mexico. Some of his editing techniques like panning across to the crowd to show just how many people have come to see and support her. It makes it more astounding when she controls them and is able to make them silent just with the wave of her hand. This depicts how memorizing and captivating her voice and presence is. Nava also included some juxtaposition shots, where he would simultaneously show the crowd and Selena performing. It showed how Selena and her audience were one, moving and being moved by her voice. For Jennifer she had to mimic Selena’s dancing and mannerism, she was very high energy and radiated that to her fans. To add to her trancelike or tantalizing affect Nava included a sort of slow mo on some of Jennifer’s spins and twirls. This is a classic move of Selena’s performance style and to really emphasize that, Nava slowed it down a bit.
This scene discusses how Chicanx people feel both alienated and immensely pressured by both counterparts of their identities. The film addresses how difficult it is to feel accepted and apart of both the American and Mexican identity of Chicanx people by showing how much Selena and her family had to fight to gain acknowledgement from the American and Mexican public alike. Upon venturing in Mexican media territory, Selena’s father made sure to prepare her for any negative criticism she might receive because her Spanish isn’t up to their standards. However, for Selena and her siblings this thought hadn’t crossed their minds, they assumed that because she was singing in Spanish she would be accepted with open arms. This goes to show that while they accept and appreciate their Mexican identity, native Mexicans may still view them as solely American. Selena’s father also mentions that as a Mexican American you’re expected to be “twice as perfect”, in reference to how well you speak both English and Spanish, know the popular musicians, keep up with actors/actresses and TV hosts from both countries. In order to prove that Chicanx are Mexican enough and American enough, we are expected to be well versed in the pop culture and history of both countries as to not seem we are rejecting one identity over the other.
In my opinion, In the movie the author delivers the audience the perfect balance of eastablishing as an immigrant person in a different society. In this particular case we can see that a family played a significant and positive role in the life of the Selena. All Father advices how to handle a negativity grew in a girl string inner world which helped her to overcome difficulties and not to loose herself.
The scene tackles the common identity dilemmas by focusing on how Mexicans struggle just to fit in . In the film the father speaks about how they have to be just as Mexican as you are American. They had to be more American than the Americans and more Mexican than the Mexicans. It emphasizes the struggles that the Chicanx people face while growing up in a dominant white neighborhood. When they talk they may sound funny to other people and the father points that out . They sound funny because as apart of the Chicano movement they were forced to sound more white unless they were talked about. The father refuses to let his kids become too dominant in Spanish as it will mess up there flow of fitting in . Selena talks about how she enjoys singing in Spanish and tries to say it’s the same as talking in Spanish. I feel as if you were watching this from a Mexican or Latino point , it connects to the audience more because of the ability to play both roles in a bilingual family which is mostly what exits today
What allowed Selene to achieve as much as she did was from her childhood her dad always pushed her to get out of her comfort zone and sing we can see in the beginning that her father when all the kids were playing she was in the house practicing. As she got older her family organized a band together. That’s played in her father’s restaurant. So that drive to always keep reaching for her dream was there she was able to cross lines into a western audience because she also used English lyrics so that people who didn’t speak Spanish could understand, also she knew how to change her image when we look back she was more humble in the beginning of her career as she got older she changed her look and appealed to a wider audience by the costume she choose and how she acted.
In the film “Selena”, there are several factors from Selena’s life and career which allowed her to achieve stardom. One of the factors is portrayed at a point where Abraham who is one of the veteran musicians leads a singing group that is based on the family known as the Dinos. Abraham notices that Selena had a strong singing voice where he decides to work on her voice. A Selena grows; she plays together with Jennifer Lopez to establish her identity for the love of music with her Mexican-American heritage. Abraham and Selena argue most of the time about the group’s musical direction thus supporting and respecting her talent. Later on, Selena gains wrath from his father, and she romantically gets involved with a long-haired and rebellious guitarist known as Chris Perez who had been hired to play for the group and after eloping, Selena deceives her father that they has a sincere love and this makes Chris become one of their family members. After succeeding in the charts of the Latin and also playing within the crowd of the sellout, which took place in Houston, there was a crowd of more than 10,000 people within Monterey stadium (selena, nd). At this point, Selena recorded her first album using English and this made her gain her fame.
Selena has always been in love of being on stage and always made sure her audience had as much fun as she had, and Director Nava shows it well with the editing and Jennifer Lopez too throughout her performances. In her performance of “Como La Flor”, a sky is shown, and it changes between Selena and her audience being next to it. This shows that every time she’s performing, she feels like she’s flying. In the same performance it shows the same thing except with her audience. Selena and her audience are sharing a moment together at the concert. Throughout the performance you can see the sky go from sunrise to sunset. This indicates that her fans have been the reason she began taking performing seriously when she was younger, and it’ll keep her going until she’s gone and that her fans love her and will continue to love her after she passes. There’s also a flower that replaces the sky, showing that her and her audience have grown together as the years went by. In her performance of “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”, there’s scenes cutting from her performance outside during the day and inside at night. This scene shows that she truly loves to perform for her audience. She has a lot of bookings to perform but she consistently has the same energy and love for performing. As the scenes intertwine with each other, it shows how she still interacts with her audience and dances around the stage. Jennifer Lopez did a great job at showing how infectious Selena’s energy was while performing during the movie, but especially in this performance. Selena’s connection to her audience was remarkable and it’s still evident to this day.
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