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Latin Representation: Actress of Cobra Kai talks about the importance of the theme

Vanessa Rubio plays Carmen Diaz and spoke of the relevance of her character

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Snake Kai (2018), one of the most watched series of the Netflix, looks at the 30 years after the events of the original film (the 1984 All Valley Tournament) and follows the story of a failed alcoholic, Johnny Lawrence, who seeks redemption as he reopens the infamous Cobra Kai dojo, rekindling his rivalry with the now. successful Daniel LaRusso, who has struggled to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Two men who address past traumas and present frustrations in the only way they know how to resolve: through karate.

In addition to an interesting story with important characters, the plot is not just for those who enjoy karate. Something very positive about the series is the issue of the representation of Latino people. The actress Vanessa Rubio, who plays Carmen Diaz, reflected on the importance of the matter. 

It's nice to be part of a family unit that feels like it could exist on its own, separate from Cobra Kai; a Latino family, not the stereotypical type of particularly deep-rooted Latino stories,” the actress said in an interview with THR. 

In the work, Rubio gives life to Diaz, mother of karate student Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña). According to the Screen Rant, she and her family break the patterns and stereotypes, as she is a single mother who raises her child alongside Miguel's grandmother. For the actress, the role gives her empowerment and is essential for Latino representation. The actress also emphasizes the representation of this group on the big screen, which is still smaller compared to other groups and this responsibility to be a model, an example for other Latinos means a lot.

Johnny and Carmen in the 4th season of Cobra Kai/Reproduction

In an article published by The globe, we see data from an unprecedented study launched to mark the Month of Latin Heritage in the United States, which reveals the few changes in recent years regarding the representation of this group in the American film industry. On average, in the 1,300 top-grossing films released between 2007 and 2019, only 5% of the more than 51,000 characters were of Latin or Hispanic origin and only 3,5% were protagonists.

However, to talk about representation and its importance, it is necessary to talk about the problem and it is clear that it is in the opportunities offered that it still perpetuates in stereotypes that spread a wrong image of Latino people and these roles with derogatory archetypes limit the understanding of such a culture. rich and important. Some of the stereotypes:

  • The Latino employee who does not know how to speak English and is confused – a fever in American comedies, an example can be seen in the feature Patricinhas de Beverly Hills (Clueless, 1995);
  • Criminal characters, dangerous, uneducated and without rise or prospect of a better life outside of crime;
  • Latin characters portrayed as lovers, where they are drawn as someone seductive with a sculptural body, who dance well, expansive and even moody. If you've ever watched Love Encounter (Maid in Manhattan, 2002) with Jennifer Lopez, you've already picked up the reference.
  • The worst type of representation is giving a Latino character to a professional who is NOT a Latino as it happens in the feature Argo (2012), where Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA officer of Mexican descent. This excludes any type of Latino representation in the audiovisual industry.

In addition to the negative stereotypes that are perpetuated in the film industry, the lack of people behind the camera, responsible for scripts, directing, post-production and the like, is glaring. It's not enough just to have an actor on screen, but it's necessary to have someone in the production, because then yes, there is a true representation. How is a movie going to portray a Latino character if not even the production has someone from the group to help compose the true image of a Latino? Like any group depicted on screen, Latinos have an extensive culture, relevant struggle stories and are often, unfortunately, portrayed as outlaws, lovers, employees, poor people, rogues or the "fools" who make fun of reaching the timing production comic. 

Image taken from Jornalismo Júnior / Reproduction

 And I really appreciate the character because she represents a very dignified, stable, unified force in this story. – Rubio comments on his character.

Latin representation is something that Snake Kai knew how to work on the series. One thing viewers see on screen is the dynamics of a Latin American family in a variety of ways that demystifies negative stereotypes from a teenager living a typical high school life, to the headstrong single mom and sweet grandma who apparently only speaks Spanish, but he knows much more than she lets on. The series makes the Diaz family realistic and captivating for viewers and creates a bond that the Latino community can relate to. 

The new Cobra Kai episodes will be released on December 31, 2021. Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Martin Kove, the next chapters will feature Thomas Ian Griffith in the role of Terry Silver. Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan, Jacob Bertrand, Peyton List and more resume their roles in the series.

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