Representation is Bullshit
There will never be a part-Hispanic/part-White, devastatingly handsome, six foot tall, thin, modestly fit, straight, quite masculine, Colorado-born, PA to ND transplant, very late Gen-Xer like myself properly portrayed in film. Should I despair?
One of my favorite films as a kid, which still is to this day, is Aliens. James Cameron’s brilliant high-octane 1986 sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic horror Alien.
Set 57 years after the events of the first film, Aliens sees heroine Ellen Ripley return to face the terror that destroyed her crew and ship. This time with a platoon of badass Colonial Marines packed to the gills with awesome firepower, sent to rescue a remote colony that has been infiltrated by the monsters with acid for blood. “This time it’s war.”
This movie blew my six-year old mind when I first saw it. I loved everything about it. The sets and visuals. The story, which starts meaningfully slow, and builds up to become a runaway freight train. The mother-daughter relationship between Ripley and the only colony survivor, the 8-year old girl Newt. The unique and awesome firepower, including the pulse rifle, and the “steadicam that kills,” as Cameron describes in the script of the massive Smartgun. And of course, the flamethrowers. The memorable and very quotable lines of dialogue. “Game over, man! Game over!” “Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” The giant APC. The pulse-pounding score. The climactic battle between Ripley in the powerloader and the Queen Alien. The strongly written characters. Hicks, the mature corporal leader. Hudson, the smartass. Bishop, the stoic and self-sacrificial android. And especially Vasquez, the street tough Latina.
As I got older, and became more ethnically self-aware, I found myself particularly drawn to the Vasquez character. Though I was not exactly conscious of it, I was appreciative of the fact that one of my favorite movies prominantly featured someone who kind of looked like me. And, in fact, might even share some of my ethnicity. Vasquez’s precise ethnic background is never mentioned in the movie. In the screenplay, Cameron only mentions her as being from South…