One way to notice lack of distinction is to keep an eye out for what I call the exception that proves the rule. Yes, I realize that everybody wants to make objections, logical or etymological, to my use of that old phrase. If you can come up with a better phrase let me know, but what I'm talking about is that one way to notice a general negative truth (e.g., Mexican-Americans aren't very noteworthy achievers, on average) is to notice when a big whoop-tee-doo is being made over somebody just for being exceptional. From the NYT, an unintentionally funny look at how desperate the press is for a Mexican-American leader.
By TANZINA VEGA
LOS ANGELES — At a premiere party at the Spanish-colonial-style Bel-Air Bay Club last week for the new Lifetime show “Devious Maids,” the center of attention was not the five actresses who play the lead characters, Latina maids who cook, clean and scheme while looking after wealthy white families in Beverly Hills.
Instead, the spotlight fell on one of the executive producers, Eva Longoria, better known for her own role as the wealthy Gabrielle Solis on “Desperate Housewives.” ... But then she changed the script, positioning herself as a Hollywood power player on Latino issues and a highly regarded political advocate.
Now she finds herself in a position of having to defend her latest project against critics who say the show relies too much on the cliché of the Hispanic maid.
“When people talk about stereotypical maids, these maids are anything but,” Ms. Longoria, 38, said over a long lunch at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood two days before the premiere party. She said future plot points would reveal more developed people.
She was eager to counter the negative reactions to the show. “I think it’s important for us to have a dialogue of identity in our culture, and even though this show may not be your experience, it is a lot of people’s experience,” she said. Latinos, she added, “over-index in domestic workers: that is a fact, that’s not an opinion.”
The ratings for the premiere of “Devious Maids,” at 10 on Sunday night, were modest. Going up against the season finale of AMC’s “Mad Men,” the show attracted 2 million viewers, slightly below the Lifetime show that preceded it at 9, “Drop Dead Diva” (2.2 million).
Ms. Longoria’s rise as a media force has been paralleled by her political ascent. She stumped for President Obama in 2012, helping round up critical Hispanic voters, and she was a founder of the Futuro Fund, which raised $32 million for the campaign. She recently spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago; left a few days later for Colombia to film a documentary for the Half the Sky Movement, an international women’s advocacy group; and signed on to a fund-raising drive for the political group Battleground Texas, whose goal is to raise money to “put Democrats back on the map” in the state, in the words of her message on the group’s home page.
I dropped by the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills last spring to see a friend from New York at Trader Vic's bar. I believe the prime pre-dinner speaking slots at the ex-con's Davos-style wing-ding were a choice between hearing Al Gore or Eva Longoria. (I may have this wrong, but I think the choice was Al or Eva.)
And in May she completed a master’s degree in Chicano studies from California State University, Northridge.
In contrast, to pick a random example, movie director Terrence Malick taught philosophy at MIT and translated Heidegger. But Christian Arabs in the New World (on Malick's father's side) tend to have their share of high achievers, so nobody much cares that Malick's a credit to his semi-ethnicity. But Eva Longoria getting an M.A. in Chicano Studies at CSUN is national news: the exception that proves my rule.