Just hearing the word Public Service Announcement is enough to send shivers down any TV watchers spine. It’s enough that we’re constantly bombarded with toothpaste commercials and prescription drug spots, but then we have to sit through someone preaching about saying “NO” to drugs, or not starting forest fires – I mean, really, who starts forest fires?
Admittedly, PSAs at least try bring up some important issues, and heck, every once in a while they’re actually a pretty well done. In the case of LA-based filmmaker Gloria Morán, not only does she bring exceptional quality to a recent crop of feminist PSAs made through her own outfit Conejo Productions, but she also brings some real talk aimed right at our Latino community.
First up, Boys Will Be Boys, featuring East Los High actor Jorge Díaz, tackles the codification of gender roles in Latino households. Written in the form of a letter to his infant daughter, Díaz reflects on the policing of masculinity from his own father, who once declared “No son of mine is a maricón!” when he caught his 3-year-old son trying on his mother’s high heels. From there Díaz reflects on the unfair treatment of his sister and female cousins, who were held to higher standards and forced to carry out housework while he was granted privileges simply for being a boy.
Another PSA, Nuevas Novelas, documents work being done by educators in the LA area who are working to bring media literacy to young Latinas. Created by the Justice for my Sister Collective, the program not only helps these young women learn marketable skills, gain self esteem, and find their own voices, but they’re also tackling some thorny cultural issues related to Spanish-language media. Namely: the blatant misogyny found in telenovelas. By deconstructing these narratives, the media program is giving young women the tools and confidence to empower themselves with their own narratives.
Other PSAs in the series spotlight similar efforts to empower young Latinas through everything from photo projects to massive marches. The video spots are part of the groundbreaking multimedia project “Dis…Miss,” organized by Freewaves, which seeks to open dialogue around a new wave of feminism brewing in the wake of contemporary gender identity movements. The initiative will go on for two years, with monthly exhibitions at locations throughout Los Angeles.