Hispanics in Science Fiction with Edward James Olmos & Esai Morales Part Two
In part one of Hispanics in Science Fiction we were introduced to the outspoken thoughts of Edward James Olmos and were just beginning to hear from Esai Morales on his perspective into the future of Hispanics in science fiction. We pick up with Esai Morales talking about Hispanics and the roles they are typically typecast in, “I remember a movie called Dune. Remember Dune? You had a very fiery red haired guy with real bright blue eyes, but there was nobody like us. We were killed off I guess, we were unessential. And that’s a problem; you know, there are those people who want to make English Only a reality in this country. OK you first, rename Colorado ‘Red’ and I’ll listen.”
The attendees laugh as Esai gives them a broad smile full of optimistic enthusiasm before he continues. “It doesn’t work; we have been here before the nation you know, we are still arriving in certain places. But some families have been here for five hundred years. Some families are blond haired and blue eyed Garcias.”
“That’s right.” chimes in Olmos as Esai continues, “We are European, we are Asian, we are African, we are Taino. I mean . . . Alberto Fujimori, you know!? I’m tired of seeing us or only the Mestizo and the four H’s of Hispanic Hollywood as I call it.” As Esai continues you can really see him becoming animated and getting into character as all eyes are on him describing the stereotypical Hollywood typecasting of the Hispanic character in movies.
“Either we’re too Hostile!” Esai’s face contorts into a growl of anger and his voice becomes that of a street-wise Latin bad-boy, gesturing in the air with an imaginary switch blade in his hand, “What you lookin’ at Sucka, I’ll cut you!”
“Or we’re too Humble.” With that Esai’s features soften, his shoulders slouch and his eyes softly plead from within as his voice becomes that of a poor Hispanic peasant, “Please Senor Gringo, we are a poor people. Please helping to us . . .” The crowd laughs at Esai’s caricature as he mockingly begs them for assistance, “We can’t get our chit together.”
Changing back into Esai he continues with the third ‘H’, “Or we’re too Harmonal.” His eyes instantly become sharp and a glint of machismo begins to shine through as he says, “Aye Mamasita, come with me to the Casbar.”
The Caprica actor immediately jumps into his next and last characterization of Hollywood’s negative Hispanic stereotypes, “Or we’re Hysterical” as he becomes Ricky Ricardo, “Lucy . . . lapacata pacata pacata . . .” Esai’s arms are waving wildly as the crowd responds with more approving laughter.
“But basically those were the four H’s of Hollywood and I’m going . . . when are we in charge? When are we intelligent?” and as he leans forward and looking out at the gathered audience he asks sincerely, “When are we in charge?”
Mr. Olmos then looks away from Esai and says to the room, “Battlestar changed it!” and with that Esai leans toward Olmos and says, “Miami Vice didn’t hurt either . . .” holding his hand over his mouth as if telling everyone a secret and as the crowd chuckles in acknowledgment he continues, “I’m just saying, your performance in that was nuanced. It was subtle, it was something you didn’t see!”
Mr. Olmos nods his head in appreciation it seems and then adds, “Gaff; in Blade Runner . . . forget it! I praise Riddley for having the courage to listen to me when I walked into his office and I said ‘you know I would love to help you do this,” as he humbly makes a face of amused curiosity repeating his thought again “I would love to help you do this . . .” Mr. Olmos obviously meaning that Riddley Scott needed no help from him or anyone else.
“And at that time I was in the process of doing Zoot Suit, and it was the first major piece of work to go on Broadway and in the main stages of America. A totally Latino based story. So I walk into his office and I say that I think if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it speaking ten languages and representing four different cultures all in one.” Turning his head slightly askew and with a quizzical look he continues, “And he’s looking at me and I said, because in the future I think it’s going to be Asian.” pausing a moment he looks around before continuing, “And I mean he took notes!” says Mr. Olmos shaking his head before continuing, “Because inevitably, origami became the key to the whole piece and the majority of people you saw in front of the camera were Asian. I spoke incredibly amounts of different languages throughout the movie and he let me. People didn’t know what I was saying and in the voice over, Gaff says it was ‘City Speak’. Every good cop knew it and he was a good cop, so he knew it.” says Olmos as he waves his hands in front of him expressively.
“But in essence he didn’t know what the heck I was saying.” the room chuckles as he continues, “So when I said, (for the purposes of this article, this translation is only phonetic and not an actual Hungarian translation) ‘Lo fas nejogmar te vaja Blade Runner.’ He just looked at me and said, ‘You got the wrong guy.’ But that was actually Hungarian, any Hungarians in the room?”
As he looks around, someone raises their hands and pointing toward them says, “You know what I just said right?” Mr. Olmos then repeats the phrase once more and then translates it for the panel. “Big Hoarse Dick!”
With that the entire crowd quite literally went wild in an uproar of laughter. What was so fun about this particular moment of the discussion was that while we were indeed speaking on an important topic regarding Latino culture, this particular portion took everyone back to a particular science fiction memory practically everyone in that room shared if they saw the iconic Blade Runner and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that at least for me, I will never really look at that particular scene in Blade Runner the same without thinking not only of Mr. Olmos, but the phrase, “Big Hoarse Dick!”
“That’s what it is! I’m not kidding you. That’s what it is.” Mr. Olmos says as he looks around at Esai, myself and the very entertained crowd. A very large smile is on Mr. Olmos’ face as he repeats the phrase as if for effect, “Lo fas nejogmar te vaja Blade Runner. Big Hoarse Dick!” With that Esai adds, “Take notes Ladies.” which is followed by more laughter from the crowd.
“You could always tell who the Hungarians were because they’d fall out of their seats laughing.” With his hands in the air Mr. Olmos gestures as if he is indeed falling out of his chair and then says, “When it hit Hungary they said the place went wild. Of course, I’m Hungarian” as he pronounces his name with an emphasis on the ‘s’ at the end as if it were pronounced ‘Olmosh’. “He who works with lead.” Says, Mr. Olmos; that being the literal translation. “I’m Hungarian Jew, but you know, that was six hundred years ago OK? So all of a sudden he says (talking about Riddley Scott again) ‘You claim that?’
“Of course!” Spits out Mr. Olmos and almost in a flash, the levity of the moment seems to vanish and the regal actor gets serious again. “I also claim my African roots! And that was like two hundred thousand years ago. How can I not say thank you to my parents and ancestors?” He looks around him almost as if in surprise, “I mean come on!? How can we not say thank you to our African roots?” His arms are outstretched in front of him as if questioning an unquestionable fact. “They found our DNA in animals that are in seven million year old sediment, so we are really old guys. And yet we have not yet evolved to the point of being able to accept our roots and look at ourselves as if we are different.” The depth and profound human self-history being discussed and dissected by Mr. Olmos leaves you feeling almost dizzy as the power in not only his words, but the way in which he delivers these ideas was breathtaking to be able to see up close and almost more than first hand as I was sitting immediately to the right of this legend.
“Did anyone see Battlestar at the U.N.?” asks Mr. Olmos. “Did anyone see it?” Several people in the audience raise their hands. “If you haven’t seen it, go on-line and U-Tube it so you can get your mind blown!” Reaching over and touching Esai’s arm he says, “What our little show created, starting with Caprica, going on to Blood and Chrome and then Battlestar, in that procession; was a monumental moment in the history of television and the planet.”
“It’s the first show in the history of this planet ever to be invited to the U.N. to speak on behalf of humanity.” Looking around and holding up his outstretched hand he begins to break down some of what Battlestar Galactica has been able to say about humanity, “We spoke about reconciliation, we talked about water boarding, we talked about terrorism and we talked about suicide bombings. We talked about our children and war, at the U.N., in front of the whole chamber.” His arms are making wide gestures as he describes what understandably we should all recognize; progress!
“And the place was jam packed you know!? It was fantastic and we stayed three and a half hours. They would show five minute clips of Battlestar and reconciliation and then the head of reconciliation everyday said, ‘If human beings could reconcile with the robots that annihilated the existence of humanity, doing that out of the necessity to come together; then why can’t the Arab and the Jew get it together? Why can’t the English and the Irish get it together? Why can’t the . . .” Just then Esai Morales interrupts saying, “I’ll tell you why, because the Illuminati control the . . .” and before he can finish his thought, he makes the sound of an imaginary gun shot and pretends to crumple backwards in his seat from an assassins bullet. With that everyone laughs at Esai’s impromptu bit of theatrics before the discussion continued on to the next question from a panel observer.
At this point the Hispanics in Science Fiction panel is about half way over and clearly the topics being touched on are at times quite deep, while others are telling glimpses into the history of both humanity and what it means to be Latino and still there was levity and good hearted humor.
I hope you are sincerely enjoying this and will read Part 3 of the Hispanics in Science Fiction panel next Monday right here on Sci Fi Pulse.
Written By: Tye Bourdony
Tye Bourdony is a Sci Fi cartoonist and creator of ‘The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi’, a mediator, science fiction reporter and the U.S. based content editor for Sci Fi Pulse. He is also a graduate of the Barry University School of Law, SUNY Purchase and H.S. of Music & Art. Tye currently works in Florida’s 9th Circuit as the Staff Family Mediator, is currently the Public Information Officer for the Osceola County Bar Association and has a regular self-published column in Sci Fi Magazine. You can visit Tye on facebook and at www.thelightersideofscifi.com. You can send Tye your thoughts, story/article ideas and content thoughts to TBourdony@scifipulse.net.