Movie Review: Selena (1997)

Tejano Hope __ 8/10

SelenaNote: Potential spoiler for those unfamiliar with events surrounding the star in 1995.

So why should we watch a movie about the “Madonna” of Mexican Americans? (Actually, I made up that comparison, but I’m pretty sure Selena has been compared to Madonna many times in the entertainment media.) Well, all the conventional reasons:

  1. The movie features Jennifer Lopez in the title role, a definite career launcher
  2. The movie speaks the universal language of music, a unique, buoyant style that doesn’t make it into mainstream pop very often.
  3. In these days of Cider House Rules Immigration Policy, the film reminds us that people of Hispanic ancestry, particularly Tejanos[1], (regardless of government paperwork) are people, too.

The movie starts with Selena’s famous concert in the Houston Astrodome on February 26, 1995, where a record crowd of 61,000 young fans show up to listen and cheer.  She’s at the top of her form with Spanish-speaking fans all through Mexico and Latin America and around the world, as well as Anglos everywhere, too; she grew up predominantly in English-speaking society as she was born in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1971 to Mexican-American citizens. The issue of perceived identity—between Mexican culture and American culture—is a constant throughout the movie and something Selena comes to flow between naturally… less so her father and mother, who definitely consider themselves part of the Anglo world. Continue reading