Thursday, 27 September 2007

Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa) in NBC's Law and Order possesses a beauty that I'd call almost that of an alien. Enormous, slanted eyes are similar to those of Bratz, the dolls for pre-teens now kicking Barbie's butt worldwide. Eccentric eyebrows that have a kick in the middle. A tiny nose (Bratz echoes, again).

She plays opposite Sam Waterston (Executive D.A. Jack McCoy) whose close-set eyes and thin-lipped, wide mouth bestow a sheriff's grim air. The contrast is striking, as it's meant to be. Alana was born "to a Mexican-American father and an Irish-American mother", according to the Web site.

The extra label you always get (cf African-American) in the public eye in the U.S. contrasts to the confused attempts at political correctness experienced by journalists in Australia. We don't have the triumphalist add-on they get over there. Here, we're officially from a 'culturally and linguistically diverse background', the term now preferred over 'non-English-speaking background'.

But stereotypes are persistent. In fact my dad, who worked as director of a large engineering company for twenty years, said he would never have got that post in an Australian-owned firm. We talk of 'heritage' while they are all 'American'. We refer to ethnicity ('ethnically-Chinese') while they emphasise a common destiny.

But we love to lambast the American mode of selfhood, as if it were responsible for all the ills in the world.

Law and Order is, like the other U.S. TV cop dramas I love, made with extremely high production values. It is this I love. There's really nothing like them in Australia. In Britain, they've moved in the same direction, as we see in such prime dramas as Spooks.

The excitement of highly-dramatised product of this kind is partly the result of the production values they keep to, the producers. If we can move in that direction, too, I think we might see more people watching themselves on-screen, rather than complaining of how the media treats them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Alana De La Garza! She is a great addition to the show and a very capable actress. She has great chemistry with Jack McCoy and I'm looking forward to seeing how she is with the new ADA Linus Roache this upcoming season. I think she'd make an awesome Wonder Woman too!