Monday, February 28, 2011

Major FCC complaint launched against homophobic Spanish-language TV talk show

TAKE ACTION: To support this effort, please click here and sign!

In July of last year, I wrote about the outrageous homophobia, transphobia and misogyny that ran rampant on a daytime Spanish-language television show called "José Luis Sin Censura" (Appropriately, I titled the post "Sickening").

I wasn't the first or the last one to notice. In my case, an anonymous reader sent me a number of clips from the show which I translated and posted on YouTube. Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou had also written about the show a month earlier than I did. And the guys at Queerty also followed up on my post.

Most importantly, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) also released a call to action which means the show's producers were put on notice.

Eight months later, though, and they continue to pull the same offensive stuff...

The result? Today, it was just announced that GLAAD is joining forces with the National Hispanic Media Coalition to launch an FCC complaint against Liberman Broadcasting who own the show.  An excerpt from the press release:
Los Angeles, CA, February 28, 2011 – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) today filed a joint complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Liberman Broadcasting, Inc. and KRCA, a broadcast television station serving the Los Angeles area. The complaint is in response to a string of broadcasts of the Spanish-language television talk show "José Luis Sin Censura," which often contains indecent, profane, and obscene material, offensive language, nudity, and on-air verbal and physical attacks against women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The organizations also launched an online action with the Women's Media Center (WMC) where concerned community members and allies can send e-mails to the FCC supporting the complaint or file their own complaints based on episodes they have witnessed.

GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios and NHMC President Alex Nogales will discuss the FCC complaint during an online press conference on February 28, 2011 at 1PM EST / 10AM PST. To access the streaming footage, please visit

In over twenty episodes that aired between June 18 and December 7, 2010, the program contained images and language of the nature that is never displayed or is bleeped out of pre-taped English-language programs of the same nature, including the words "pinche" ("f*cking" in English) and "culero" ("assf*cker"), anti-gay language, including epithets such as "maricón," "joto" and "puñal" (or "f*ggot"), and anti-Latino slurs, such as "mojado" ("wetback"). The program frequently featured blatant nudity and female guests have been shown in violent fights. Hypersexualized images of women's bodies while stripping for male guests and audience members also make up routine offerings. Guests and audience members were often incited to engage in verbal and even physical attacks, especially against people perceived to be LGBT. Many episodes showed the audience standing and shouting anti-gay epithets and profanity at guests.
The Woman's Media Center, founded in 1995 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem "to positively impact the visibility of women in the media, amplify women's voices on key issues in the national dialogue, fight sexism and bias against women in the media, and increase professional opportunities for women across all forms of media" is also supporting the action.

The organizations have also created an easy way to join them and take action. To do so, please click here and sign your name!

Some will say that the show, for those who do not understand Spanish, looks like a Spanish language version of "The Jerry Springer Show" and a lot of it certainly seems staged. But Jerry Springer nor his show's producers would ever have allowed and encouraged audience members to shout "faggot" at a host as someone beat him up as one of these clips show.

Spanish language media often gets an easy pass when it comes to this type of obscene content on television that clearly violates FCC regulations because they are low on the FCC's radar. Please take some time to click on the action link and make sure that the producers of "José Luis Sin Censura" know that this sort of homophobic content won't be tolerated.

  • "José Luis Sin Censura" webiste here
  • "José Luis Sin Censura" Facebook page here
Reactions (you might want to check reader's comments on these blogs as well):

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Glee in Cuba

    Camilo García, who works in the Sexual Diversity arm of the Cuban National Sexual Education Center (CENESEX), took to his blog yesterday to share his surprise that a state-sponsored Cuban television channel was showing weekly episodes from the first season of the U.S. television hit "Glee".  A translated edited version of García's post follows ("'Glee', a lesson in respect towards human diversity", Feb. 9, 2011).
    Once again Cuban television surprises us with the broadcast of a series from the United States in which the respect towards diversity, including sexual diversity, is treated openly and through clear messages. We had already noted the airing of "Six Feet Under" a few months ago, but this time the TV series "El Coro" ("Glee") comes to us on a privileged day and time, in which everyone can see it: Saturdays at 5:45pm, on Cubavision...

    ...what draws our attention is how the series treats the case of Kurt, an extremely effeminate gay, who showcases the most divine of extravagant fashions and even reaches the tone of a soprano when singing.  With his 'bothersome' look (to those who are the most homophobic), he proudly confronts his way of being, and challenges the world with his amply demonstrated talents and virtues, even in the harsh game of football. His father, an apparently dumb mechanic, gives us a masterclass in sensitivity and humanity in defending his son against any discriminatory attempts based on his physical appearance, his mannerisms or his sexual orientation.

    For all these lessons that reach the viewer in a fresh and entertaining way and which do so much good when exposed to society, let "Glee" be welcome on the Cuban screens.  Although it's a shame that it has to be a foreign series - and from the United States to top it all off - that brings clear and powerful messages in regards to diversity.  How much longer do we have to wait for these type of messages, but "made in Cuba?"
    Cuban television has tackled LGBT issues in the past beginning with a government sponsored series in June of 2006 called "La Cara Oculta de la Luna" ("The Dark Side of the Moon").  The series was produced with the backing of the CENESEX and had an educational HIV prevention angle but a storyline involving the relationship of a gay man with another married bisexual man caught the country's imagination and led to as frank a depiction of man to man love as had been presented on Cuban television up until that time.

    CENESEX, under the leadership of its director, Mariela Castro Espín, has also organized an annual cultural celebration in May in observance of the "International Day Against Homophobia" which has brought actors, directors, artists and performers to celebrate LGBT culture.

    Last year, in its 3rd year, the event drew some international attention for showcasing Gus Van Sandt's "Milk" and Castro Espín's open invite to American actor Sean Penn to attend the film's showing.  Sean Penn said he was otherwise occupied at the time but promised to show up at a later date.

    Castro Espín also happens to be the daughter of Raúl Castro, the current Cuban president.

    NOTE: Most of Latin America catch subtitled episodes of "Glee" a few weeks after they air on U.S. television on multi-national cable networks that license the rights to rebroadcast the show outside the country.  A few unlucky viewers catch dubbed versions of "Glee" (instead of the subtitled versions).

    I'm not sure if the version being aired in Cuba is a subtitled version or a dubbed version. The clip above is from Mexico's Azteca TV network.


    Straight Mexican singer releases gay-themed album

    The stunt isn't new.  There has been more than a few heterosexual singers who have sang about gay love or dedicated a song to their gay fans.

    The most recent example I can remember is Keisha saying somewhat nonsensically that her recent single "We R Who We R" is about bullied gay teens (er, huh?).

    The practice is also surprisingly prevalent in Latin America, particularly with formerly popular singers on the declining end of their careers who know their gay fans are among the most devoted, as well as the most willing to still buy their albums or live show tickets.

    Granada Entertainment, for example, has made a big business out of handling appearances by many of these former pop idols at different Latino gay bar venues throughout the United States. Which is all good. I mean, if it works for Kylie Minogue, why shouldn't it work for others?

    This week brought the latest two examples...

    Pimpinela: Huge in the 1980's, Argentinean duo Pimpinela were known for overly-dramatic, incredibly cheesy call-and-response songs depicting lovers in crisis. Usually, the scenario was that of a woman cheated upon angrily telling her husband off - and the husband asking for forgiveness - as in "Olvidame y Pega Vuelta" (they also turn the tables sometimes as in "Ese Estupido Que Llama").

    And here is the kicker: The duo that makes up Pimpinela are actually a sister and a brother.  Which seems icky enough but didn't seem to hurt them at all back on their heyday.

    Jump 25 years later and - who knew? - Pimpinela are still around! They are also dedicating a remix of one of their songs to the gays, allowing fans to download it for free from their official site.

    Joaquín Galán, the lead male singer, says: "I wrote the original song ['Primero Yo'] thinking about the modern couple, in which I feel the woman is the great protagonist of change and men are only discrete companions.  The remix ['Tengo Derecho a Ser Feliz'] is more open, it's a chant to freedom, to self-determination, and the spark, perhaps, was the approval of equal rights for homosexuals in Argentina".

    The remix has a vague Erasure-ish beat to it. No, it doesn't make it any better or less cringe-worthy than it actually is.

    Gualberto Castro: What kind of name is Gualberto? And, perhaps more importantly, Gualberto who?

    Well, after today, that really won't matter because Gualberto Castro has made history: As far as I am aware, the 60+ year old Mexican singer is the only straight performer to release a full album of gay-related songs since music was invented!

    From my spotty research, Gualberto shot to the top of the charts in 1973 when he won the OTI international music festival with "La Felicidad". Yes. 1973.

    On Tuesday, Gualberto came back full-force: Speaking to Mexican paper La Jornada, the singer said he was about to release a 12-track album called "Coming Out of the Closet" in which he says he interprets "beautiful songs that dignify the gays".

    Gualberto to La Jornada:
    The concept of the album came to me because the issue of homosexuality is very polemic nowadays.  There are advances; for many it's normal to see two persons of the same gender hugging and kissing each other, which did not happen many years ago. They have been attacked a lot and issues have been raised about their right to adopt of get married; that's why this record is a gift and a tribute to gays and lesbians.

    I am heterosexual but I recognize and support their rights.  It's an aberration that they should be attacked; society should accept homosexuality as normal, because they are born with that preference, they do not ask to have it. Simply said, that's it. Homosexuality is a part of being human. There we have Ricky Martin, who revealed he was homosexual to the point he felt liberated, and, just like him, there are many others.
    I have no idea what the album sounds like or whether it's any good. But there is one thing for certain: Gualberto, who now makes a living in Las Vegas, says that he will be receiving a placard at the Walk of Stars just outside the MGM Hotel, at a ceremony to be held on February 24th in honor of his contribution to the music industry.

    As for those of you who doubt whether Gualberto has kept up with the times: The hottest thing in Mexican music is narco-corridas and norteñas which play up the macho factor as well as the drug trade violence that has unfortunately taken over areas of the country.  Surprisingly, it might have been exactly the type of music where Gualberto might have found the inspiration to sing about the gays.

    Don't believe me? Go straight to the following jaw-dropping NSFW video for Gualberto Castro's "Tengo a las Dos":

    Toupée or no toupée, there are simply no words to describe the wrongness and fabulousness of this clip. I hope his new album is just as classy.

    Friday, February 04, 2011

    Colombia: Laisa in SoHo

    "Guess who this is?" asks Colombia's SoHo magazine on it's fold-out triptych cover for it's February edition.  The cover images were unveiled today in advance of the magazine hitting the streets next week but they are already raising all sort of ruckus on Twitter where the relatred hashtag #laisaensoho has shot up to the number 1 spot on the trending topics for Colombia today.

    A second cover shot, which unveils the woman behind the mystery but is racier than the one above, below the fold...

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    Yeah, but is it good? (Ricky Martin's 'Música + Alma + Sexo')

    Ricky Martin might have gotten props for sidestepping the publicity machine and going straight to the public when he confessed he was gay on Twitter back in March but he's been on one serious publicity-fueled tear since October when he appeared on Oprah and launched his autobiography "Me".

    He has greatly benefited from turning on his formidable publicity skills and charisma since coming out.  His book reached the top 5 on The New York Times best-selling lists and "Música + Alma + Sexo" - his first album since 2005 - hit the stores on Tuesday in regular and deluxe versions to considerable advance interest, particularly in Latino music markets.

    It all crested last week with a press junket that Martin held last week in advance of the album's release as well as a number of telephone interviews the singer held with a number of reporters from Latin America.

    As revelatory as he swore his autobiography would be, in most of these interviews Martin comes off just as carefully guarded about his private life as he does in the book. That said, some of the reporters manage to get past the publicity veneer and get some revealing answers from the pop star.

    Pablo Schanton of Argentina's Clarín gets to the heart of the matter.  Catching Martin unguarded as he's telling his publicist to follow-up on a transgender (!) reporter who's leaving the Miami hotel room after finishing interviewing the star, the singer apologizes.

    "Pardon me, part of my job is taking care of every detail; The demanding military soldier I carry within me since the times of Menudo is almost like Catholicism, isn't it?  Once you are a Catholic you always will be one," Martin laughs, "I continue to demand a lot from myself - it's part of my personality and I see it as a defect - but the obsessive-compulsive in me has helped me to reach a lot of things."

    Simón Villamizar from Venezuela's El Universal presses Martin on his lack of transparency on an autobiography in which the singer promised to talk openly about his life in what must have been an uncomfortable exchange.

    "First of all, for me this is not a book of confessions," Martin says "This is a book in which I am sharing steps in my life which I feel were very important and led me to the conclusions that make me who I am today; my life cannot be narrated in 300 pages."

    Speaking to Leila Cobo of Billboard, Martin reveals that coming out on Twitter actually took months of deliberation.

    "I spent many months figuring out the best way to do it. I thought it could be a song, or an interview, or in the book," he says, "But I couldn't wait eight more months. I needed to do this, now. Several months before I pressed send, there was a hate crime in Puerto Rico against a gay boy. And at the time, if I had spoken out, people would have started conjecturing."

    He adds "There are moments of great tension in the book because I was living under great tension. And one Friday, I called my manager and said, I'm doing this on Monday. I spent the entire weekend drafting that letter. And when I sent it, I felt such a relief, such peace and joy. I thought, My God, had I known, I would have done this 10 years ago."

    But, what about the album?

    In that same Billboard interview, Martin reveals 60 songs were written for the album, 10 of which survived (11 if you include an extra song on the deluxe edition).  All in all there are 13 tracks on the regular version (including English language versions of a couple of songs as well as a remix) and seven additional tracks on a separate disc in the deluxe version (including English versions of another two songs from the album, a couple of remixes and the aforementioned extra track).

    Also on Billboard, Ricky Martin describes the album track by track with one notable exception, "Basta Ya", which sounds like the most personal song on the album.

    Lyrics for "Basta Ya" / "Enough":
    Getting closer to the truth / I'm seeking the way to tell the world what I can no longer keep silent / I let a tear escape / From this prison where emotions are punished without pity / Against everything, I will be with you /

    CHORUS: Enough! Of imprisoning what I feel / And denying myself what I want / Enough! Of condemning the voice I carry inside / And faking my sincerity / Fear no longer scares me / Enough!

    Reason awakened me / The words I kept in silence got tired of waiting / This is were my revolution starts / In my hand I carry the flag that will defend the heart / Against everything, I will be with you / CHORUS

    From now on, I will be loyal to myself / I will erase the pain / In the story of my life, each line screams 'Enough!' / CHORUS
    It's a beautiful ballad and defines the album pretty well: Lyrics that speak to Martin's recent coming out without being too specific about it.  Inspirational lyrics that fit some songs well ("Cántame tu Vida") but nearly sink others ("Shine").  And a pristine production by Desmond Child, who produced Martin's biggest English-language hit "Living La Vida Loca".

    The biggest surprise here is that, aside for a couple of tracks presented in Spanish and English-language versions, most of the album is in Spanish.  It makes sense, considering that Martin is more popular in Latin America than in the United States at this stage in his career, but I always thought the album would feature mostly English-language songs.  And, while there is nothing in "Música + Alma + Sexo" as immediately catchy or kitschy as "Living La Vida Loca", the album seems more consistently engaging than any of his previous albums.

    There are a couple of outstanding tracks, the dance clubby "No Te Miento" and "Más" and the seriously sexy and beautiful ballad "Tú y Yo".

    Reviews have been mostly positive but not necessarily spectacular: "As always, he enlists songwriters with an almost virtuoso ability to materialize memorable hooks out of thin air," says Los Angeles Times. "Exactly what we needed and enough to prove that he’s still a viable pop star" says the Houston Chronicle. "The album pours on pop craftsmanship in a show of confidence and pride," says The New York Times.

    That sounds just about right.  It's not the greatest album ever released in the history of music. But, as a pure pop confection, it's pretty damn good.  By the way, you can listen to the whole album by clicking here.