Do Latinos really care about seeing faces like theirs at the Oscars?

OPINION It’s Oscar time again, and you haven’t heard a peep from director Diego Luna griping that his film about heroic farm labor leader Cesar…

Alfonso Cuaron accepting the award for best director for “Gravity” during the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. In 2013 the Latino director won the Oscar for best director in 2014, making him the first Mexican in history to receive the accolade.  (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)


It’s Oscar time again, and you haven’t heard a peep from director Diego Luna griping that his film about heroic farm labor leader Cesar Chavez didn’t get nominated for Best Picture or any other Academy Award.

And the small-budget film, “Cesar Chavez,” Oscar buzz or no Oscar buzz, had some strong points in it.

SEE ALSO: 3 other films from Alejandro Iñarritu you should watch before the Oscars

Michael Peña’s portrayal of the Latino civil rights leader was every bit as good as David Oyelowo’s in “Selma,” the Oscar-nominated film for best picture about Martin Luther King’s voting rights march that has had many African Americans complaining about Academy Awards slights.

As if, real life awards for film-making were supposed to have some kind of Affirmative Action quotas or be like Little League where every participant gets a trophy.

Oscars snub Latinos

By contrast, historically, there hasn’t been this same kind of moaning and groaning from most Latinos, griping that Hispanic actors haven’t been nominated in numbers that would seem representative of the nation’s demographics.

And yet, unless my reading of Census Bureau numbers is wrong, Latinos now outnumber blacks in America by a significant margin. Not to mention that Latinos are also a sizable bigger chunk of the movie-ticket buyers than African Americans.

Where’s the Latino Oscar Buzz?

Why is that?

Why hasn’t there been a furor among Hispanics like we’ve seen from blacks over the fact that “Cesar Chavez” hasn’t been an awards darling at Oscar time, or perceived slights such as the fact that director Robert Rodriguez has never won an Academy Award or even a Golden Globe.

For crying out loud, shouldn’t Antonio Banderas be nominated every year, regardless of whether he’s made a movie, or no matter how bad it’s been? Should Salma Hayek pull some kind of stupid Kanye West antic at the Oscars and take to the stage at Best Actress time to make some kind embarrassing self-serving scene?

But, of course, we won’t see that kind of ridiculous behavior from Hispanic artists, just as most Latinos while wishing that more Hispanics were in the entertainment business aren’t going to realistically expect that any Latino-themed movie or their actors be honored as if it were our “Citizen Kane.”

And, for the record, “Citizen Kane” didn’t win a Best Picture Oscar, losing out to “How Green Was My Valley,” in 1942 – ever heard of that one? Alfred Hitchcock never won an Academy Award either, and Francis Ford Coppola didn’t win best director for “The Godfather.”

The artists from all those films, though, were winners nevertheless – and especially so for not being sore losers.

Alejandro Inarritu has received many accolades, but Latinos are lacking from the Oscars.

Director Alejandro G. Inarritu (holding plaque), winner of the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2014 award for ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Value of Ignorance),’ poses with (L-R) DGA President Paris Barclay, director Steven Spielberg and director Alfonso Cuaron poses in the press room at the 67th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 7, 2015 in Century City, California. (Photo by David Buchan/Getty Images)

Do third & fourth generation Latinos really care?

As for Latinos today, a different kind of socio-psychological phenomenon may be at play.

Many third and fourth generation Latinos – those with roots in America dating back to the time of JFK or whose parents or grandparents fought in Vietnam or World War II — have so quietly assimilated into the mainstream that, especially among millennials of those generations, they identify as easily with non-Hispanic white characters as with Latinos.

They don’t need to have a brown face on the screen as an incentive to pay the admission price to see a movie. The film doesn’t have to belabor the issues and problems of racial or ethnic discrimination, nor fictionalize or distort a historical truth for the sake of civil rights grandstanding.

SEE ALSO: Lupe Ontiveros’s legacy and tole of Latinos in Hollywood

The film industry was built on entertainment, after all, and good films — like good art and literature — transcends color or creed. And their real measure, as such, lies beyond box office totals and Oscars.

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