Anything for Selenas?
Students gather to share chisme about the famous singer
March 10, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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The Chicanx/Latinx Student Resource Center held a spirited afternoon of “spilling the tea” on Thursday Mar. 02 at “Cafecito con Chisme: Selena, Pop Culture, and Cultural Appropriation.” Students from across the racial and gender spectrums gathered into the cozy room on the second floor of the U-SU for an intimate discussion about Selena Quintanilla Perez, the famed Tejana singer and fashion icon, and some of the controversy surrounding the new Selena MAC makeup line and Selena’s image in pop culture today.
To start the conversation, Joselyne Sanchez, one of the coordinators for the event, broke the ice by asking volunteers to share their stories of how important Selena was to them. Much of the crowd grew up with her music in their households. Overall, the student group was well-informed on who Selena is and aware of the new media attention the late singer has been receiving.
Selena has regained a boost in mainstream culture due to the recent introduction of the limited edition MAC makeup line. Sanchez asked for the opinions on the line and the reception was mixed. There was one comment on how MAC is a problematic company and that, “they fund Israeli occupation.” Sanchez doubted that Selena, “an animal lover,” would pick MAC as the company behind the line, as they test on animals.
Sanchez later brought up a slide with a picture of a collector’s box of the full line of makeup products. “How many of you guys know this was only sent to Youtubers?” she asked. The potential reasoning behind this decision by the makeup brand was to get internet stars to advertise the best of the best of the Selena line to make people want it. But the reality of it was that ordinary consumers were squeezed out of getting their hands on the product, either having to wait in long lines or buying overpriced items on reseller sites.
“There was a shortage of makeup for actual consumers who wanted to buy it, but they somehow managed to send these out to Youtubers?” she continued. On the other hand, one student appreciated that the colors of the makeup were curated by Selena’s sister, Suzette, from real colors from “Selena’s makeup bag,” and that the packaging color, purple, was Selena’s favorite color.
The conversation transitioned from talking about the MAC line to the Quintanilla family’s involvement in the Selena brand name. The family had Chris Perez sign away any usage of Selena’s name after her passing, according to Sanchez. Selena’s name and image have been used for television tribute shows, a wax museum, and now the makeup line.
The Quintanilla family is continuing to profit off of Selena’s legacy, which might not have been according to Selena’s wishes. Perez wrote a book about his relationship with Selena, and has approached a television network about making a documentary series about sharing his story, and Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, has filed a lawsuit against him. A comment from a student that “her own family exploits her” was met with resounding agreement.
The “chisme” continued as Kylie Jenner was brought up. Last year, the media star shared a picture on her Instagram account wearing a Selena shirt, and was criticized over whether she was an actual fan of the singer or just wearing the shirt for looks and likes. Sanchez asked for the opinion of the audience about certain celebrities who are “all of a sudden getting on the Selena hype train,” and this was again met with mixed responses. Some viewed it as a positive thing that celebrities are sharing Selena with their fans who might not know about her. Others thought that Kylie wearing the shirt was just another example of her history with Latinx cultural appropriation, and believed she was simply wearing the shirt for attention.
Throughout the event, the conversations teetered in the deeper, problematic aspects of these issues surrounding Selena, what with the cultural appropriation of her image, the constant marketing by her family, and the for-profit mindset of the MAC line of products. The comfortable, familial atmosphere of the Resource Center helped keep the discussion flowing about the Tejana singer, and how the culture of sharing her can be both good and bad.