Posted at 12.05.2018
Peter Sollet's 2002 movie "Raising Victor Vargas", is a fascinating little bit of cinematic work since it has the incredible ability to transport an audience member from the cinema and place him or her behind main character Victor, thus becoming an eyeball witness of his daily activities in the barrio. By taking this process, Sollet provides audience the opportunity to review the negotiation and development of Dominican self-identification in america.
The movie is defined in New York City's Lower East Aspect and most the main individuals are associates of the working class Vargas family. The top of the household is grandmother Anna Guzman, who's a first era immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She has the responsibility to improve her three grandchildren called Victor, Vicki and Nino. Victor is a genuine ladies' man and the central narrative of the movie revolves around his efforts to seduce popular neighborhood gal Judy Ramirez. His involvement with Judy is a anxious effort to rescue his reputation as Victor's friends believe that he has slept with "Fat Donna. " During the period of his seduction process, Victor gets both his brother and sister tangled up in his actions which makes increasing victor vargas a mission impossible for his traditional grandmother.
Both the general audience and critics appreciate the movie. It faired well at the package office and it received many positive critical reviews, including one from popular Chicago-Sun Times critic Roger Ebert who gave it three. 5 stars out of four. "Raising Victor Vargas" also earned several prizes like the Grand Special Prize at Deauville Film Happening and the Made in Spanish honor at San Sebastian International Film Celebration. Reasons for its success may lay in the actual fact that it's not really a typical teenage comedy, since it not merely touches upon young adults' experience with relationships. In addition, it raises issues regarding the search for an Dominican-American identification, the defining of race through language, the popularity of generational tensions and the presence of cultural variations. Many of these issues give a glimpse of how ethnic-racial identities are played out in NY City's Lower East Side. By analyzing the engineering of the ethnic-racial identity in "Raising Victor Vargas" through the previously detailed topics, this paper will demonstrate the way the presence of fluid identities encompasses feelings of addition and exclusion that can dominate lives within an metropolitan minority community.
The academic dialogue on identity development in Latino neighborhoods in New York City mostly focuses on the presence of panethnicity among Latinos and exactly how this influences integration into American culture. Corresponding to scholars Jose Itzigsohn and Carlos Dore-Carbal, the existence of panethnicity "identifies the development of ethnic group boundaries to include different countrywide or ethnic organizations that share a typical language, a standard culture, or the regional origin into an encompassing personality. " This panethnicity has been reviewed as a second personality that coexists with national identifications. Furthermore, the link between America's racial classification system and panethnic identity in addition has been researched extensively. Overall, research has drawn the conclusion that separate racial and ethnic categories have the ability to construct panethnic identities, yet they can also create panethnic identities collectively.
These studies on panethnic identification are not without problems as several scholars, such as Douglas S. Massey in "Latinos, Poverty, and the Underclass: a fresh Agenda for Research", have pointed out. One main point of critique is the notion that a panethnic identification combines peoples from differing backgrounds, ultimately homogenizing several immigrants which is in fact very heterogeneous. Research done on identity construction among Dominicans in NEW YORK suggest that they also fall under an activity of panethnic personal information formation. They continue steadily to honor their nationwide identity, yet they also adopt the Hispanic/Latino personal information as a group identity. However, it's important to take into consideration that the number of studies done on Dominicans is very limited, as they seem to be to be overshadowed by other immigrant groups such as the Puerto Ricans and Cubans.
Dominican-American identity building has a long history dating back again to america led intervention in the Dominican civil warfare in 1965. Out of this moment onwards, moves of Dominican immigrants commenced to move towards the United States, leading to immigration volumes jumping from 9. 897 in the 1950s to 93. 292 in the 1960s. The climb in statistics was along with the fact that laws and regulations concerning Dominican migration were made more versatile by the American government to help ease communal tensions in the united states. The first circulation of immigrants generally originated from an urban-lower middle income history, thus preferred to settle in urban surroundings found in New York City. In the first 1980s, the financial situation on the island worsened which enthusiastic Dominicans from all layers of culture to migrate to the United States. Most of them inserted the American job market as low wage manual laborers, but unemployment persisted to prevail. This though economic position didn't severely hurt the development of vibrant Dominican social life because it came to incorporate elements from American culture with Dominican culture. This was especially the circumstance in New York City, which until today functions as the heart and soul of the Dominican population in America. Furthermore, Dominicans continue steadily to maintain a close relation with their homeland, a relation that successfully supports the current economic climate of the Dominican Republic. However, within Dominican society itself, Dominican-Americans are generally turned down and stigmatized, since Dominicans in the Dominican Republic feel that the immigrants have betrayed their roots. That is exemplified by local Dominicans calling immigrants "Dominicanyork".
The social construction of racial distinctions in America and the Dominican Republic plays a huge role in the lives of immigrants, something which will be discussed in greater detail later on when analyzing Victor Vargas's life. The Dominican Republic has a very detailed racial classification system predicated on nationality and color. This makes Dominicans in a position to look beyond Black and White. However, the American system makes a clear variation between Black color and White and the 'one drop guideline' categorizes Dominican immigrants as Blacks, since they have Spanish-African origins. The categorization of being Black obviously separates Dominicans from other Latino teams such as Mexicans. Mexicans have significantly more opportunities to work out their "Whiteness" because of the fact that many of these have lighter epidermis tones. Dominicans simply cannot discuss their "Whiteness" as their phenotype is too like the African American one. This idea certainly impacts Dominican-American identity construction as in search for an identification many young Dominican-Americans identify strongly with an African-American lifestyle, most noticeably the hip-hop lifestyle including hip-hop communal rules and dress code. This is also the situation with Victor Vargas and his friends. Furthermore, next to resemblances regarding phenotype, other known reasons for this strong id with African American culture lay in the fact that both categories share more or less the same political and economical position.
Victor's link with the DARK-COLORED hip-hop community is evident as his reputation as a women' man is carefully choreographed according to hip-hop cultural rules. His friends call him a player and a playboy, a label which he wears with pride and tries to reestablish after his supposed encounter with "Fat Donna. " His identification with African-American hip-hop culture should go as far as copying the same dress style of baggy shorts with a tank top and flashy rings, while his hair is generally combed into a good afro. In this manner, Victor constructs an identification predicated on American cultural elements, rather than honoring Dominican social elements. However, his identity won't be fully American or mainstream American since it is part of the racialized identification category which is produced by mainstream American culture in order to function as an exclusion factor from typical Americanness.
Moreover, why is Victor's connection with African-American culture especially obvious is his use of DARK-COLORED Vernacular English, a type of English associated with the African American community. Phrases such as "Hey whassup? How y'all doin. ", "You ain't talkin' to no person, The method that you gonna stop me?. " and "You observed me bag just how many bitches, they dimes. " are used with much confidence by Victor. Within his group of friends it is also accepted to call the other person nigger, a expression that his closest friend Harold uses in the first minutes of the movie: "I can identify your fro from anywhere, nigga. " However, it is interesting to look at that Victor and his friends never duplicate DARK-COLORED Vernacular British in its entirety. Victor's words also contains traces of Spanish which is the nationwide vocabulary of the Dominican Republic. Types of this are: "Papi chulo" right there, that's me, of course", "She actually is loca, shut up!" and "Oh, many thanks. "Muchas gracias. " Thanks. " This mix of African American Vernacular British with traces of Spanish shows how words is able to define race for Victor. He shows that the guy can speak Spanish which emphasizes that he can't be regarded as being fully Dark colored. Quite simply, Spanish is used as a marker to exclude Victor from African-Americanness or Blackness. One could claim that Victor's use of words is a form of level of resistance to America's tight racial categories', yet it is doubtful that Victor himself realizes this. Moreover, however, is that through his use of various language types, Victor can emphasize the Dominican and American facets of his Dominican-American personality. His fluent English language skills include him in the identification construction of the North american and his Spanish skills include him in the identification construction of the Dominican. This entire notion seems to bypass Victor to some extent as the movie never makes the key characters examine their language use, yet it defiantly becomes evident that Victor appreciates his man Hispanic identity predicated on the Spanish language by him asking at one point whether "You wanna be a "papi chulo" or "papi ferro?. " He stresses "papi chulo" which virtually means attractive man in Spanish, but probably signifying "pimp" within the framework of the Dominican community. Although no official translation can be found, "papi ferro" probably relates to a guy who is dedicated to one gal which Victor and his friends seem to consider to be miserable behavior. On the whole, Victor's language use complies with research done on dialect and the engineering of personality among Dominican Us citizens, more specifically research done by Benjamin Bailey.
To summarize, Victor's phenotype, British terms skills and design of dress categorize him in the African-American category, but his understanding of Spanish grades his Hispanic personal information. This shows how racial identities are never set, as they change through local situated contexts. Contexts in which the use of terminology plays an important role. In addition, this change of contexts can bring about thoughts of loneliness and exclusion, because it is nearly impossible for individuals such as Victor to match into mainstream American culture, hence sense excluded from it. However, the utilization of own social codes, dress rules and language is able to make people feel accepted within their own limited knit community, because Victor seems to feel comfortable within his group of friends surviving in the same neighborhood.
Generational differences between immigrants in relation to identity building is also a subject that is elevated within the movie which is also something which can produce thoughts of addition and exclusion within American contemporary society. Victor's grandmother is a traditional Dominican woman who adheres to beliefs and traditions within the Dominican Republic. She is very protective of her grandchildren and a devout Catholic. She considers the world in the barrio as being rotten and able to infect her family with all the current wrong values. A thing that she frequently makes clear to Victor by dealing with his loose morale concerning his interactions with different young ladies. Inside the first take action, she even calling him a 'gigolo', relating back again to her husband who was simply corresponding to her "the first gigolo. " Grandma's patience with her grandchildren is slowly running away as she helplessly states, after a quarrel: Oh, my God. What kind of kids are you?" Thus, making clear that she cannot understand the children's activities anymore therefore also concluding that she feels distanced from the American world her grandchildren are growing up in.
In the third work of the movie, the grandmother becomes so desperate that she calling upon cultural services to be able to dominate the upbringing of her grandchildren. It is exactly this instant where here Dominican background plainly becomes intertwined with her American environment, thereby allowing her to reaccept her occurrence within American contemporary society. In Mrs. Guzman's dialogue with the interpersonal service employee, she right answers questions related to her name and delivery place. She claims with pleasure that her name is Anna Guzman, but that she prefers to be called 'Tatika' which she was born in the Dominican Republic. However, following this last question she quickly advertisements the lines: "But I stay in the United States for many, many years. I really believe I am American. " This addition labels Mrs. Guzman to be a Dominican-American, as she acknowledges her Dominican origins in a American context. Nevertheless, despite her acceptance of the American context, her traditional principles continue steadily to clash with the American system as public services cannot do anything on her behalf since Victor hasn't technically done something wrong. Overall, her traditional beliefs do not necessarily limit her Americanness, nonetheless they do indicate her thoughts of addition and exclusion within American culture. Moreover, her traditional ideals put Victor in a hard position.
Throughout the movie it becomes clear that Victor is caught between different worlds, therefore seeking to balance his identities leading to feelings of addition and exclusion. As Robert E. Area would point out: Victor is a guy "on the margin of two cultures and two societies. " To begin with, he seems that he has to honor his father's history, more specifically his macho manners. Victor expresses that his father has had many wives "like four or five", therefore also leading to the existence of several half-brothers as he carries on by declaring: "Just how many half-brothers we have? A lot. " He clarifies his father's action by proclaiming that his manners are like an instinct, because "it runs in our blood", namely "in the 'sangre. " Therefore, recommending a Dominican man exists with in a position 'gigolo' talents which can't be changed easily. The whole notion which it works in one's bloodstream seems to associate back to the theory stating that received characteristics are biologically inherited, more specifically also linking back to the differences between consent and descent as discussed by Werner Sollors in his Theories of Ethnicity. Victor probably wants to be a totally accepted mainstream American, yet his descent boundaries this. Relating back again to Victor's father's background, Victor is trapped between recognizing his father's supposedly inherited gigolo capabilities and rejecting them in order to fit better within American world, because mainstream culture rejects infidelity. This continuous switching between loyalties and identities may make Victor feel like he is caught up between two worlds.
Not much is well known about Victor's mother, as she is only mentioned with regards to the disappearance of Victor's sister's dad: "My sister's daddy, we have no idea where he's at", as Victor factually says, without being judgmental. This piece of dialogue alongside the part on Victor's father talks about to the audience that Victor somewhat continues to honor his father's infidelity, even though it clashes along with his grandmother's traditional prices. This makes his home situation very tense as he switches between his streetwise personality to his personality as a grandchild of your elderly Dominican girl. The change of identities is exemplified by a short scene in which Victor and his sister listen to their brother participating in the piano. The grandmother is smitten with Victor's youthful sibling, as she let us him promise to always be there to try out the piano for her. Victor's reaction to this is only shrug of his shoulders, suggesting that he seems distanced from his grandmother's ways. This distance shows that Victor is becoming more centered on his individual home, instead of on the family, something that is also frequently clarified by the grandmother who states: "Do you promise me to be always a family again?. " The idea of being truly a good family is an essential concern within the Hispanic community. Family supports you and kinship sites are valuable for success in life. However, generally immigration to the United States often changes family dynamics as American life is much more devoted to the average person. A transition that dates back to the early beginnings of immigration to america. Immigrant peasants preferred to act as individuals rather than reestablishing traditional communal items in America. On the whole, Victor is also a person who prefers to act as a person instead of concentrating on communal units therefore excluding his family from his life, hence also performing more American than other family.
To conclude, Victor is an excellent example of a person with immigrant roots who is adapting to the needs of his own modern culture and not the needs of the society of his ancestors. This creates tensions, as Victor is becoming more American in thinking than his grandmother. These tensions exclude him from traditional Dominican family life, however they also do not immediately include him into traditional American life. This produces a feeling of exclusion and this feeling is probably what motivated Victor, his friends and other inhabitants of the Dominican community in New York City to make a whole new individuality. An identity linked to the DARK-COLORED hip-hop lifestyle, using both English and Spanish terminology and establishing own social codes, thereby creating a sense of inclusion within ones own band of third generation immigrants. As a result, it can be concluded that feelings of inclusion and exclusion go hand in hand in the engineering of an personal information in the barrio.