7. Raising Victor Vargas

TEENAGE MASCULINITIES IN URBAN SETTINGS

The film Raising Victor Vargas (2002) was directed by Peter Sollett and it focuses on the growing pains of a Dominican teenager in the Lower East Side of New York.

March 5
1. FILM: Raising Victor Vargas (view in class)
2. READ: Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire, “Gonzalez – HoE Dominicans” (PDF)

March 7
1. FILM: Raising Victor Vargas (discussion)
2. PRESENTATION: Brittany Demers & Lisette Espinal on Harvest of Empire chapter
3. PRESENTATION: Sabryne Vidal & Amber Jones on Raising Victor Vargas

Download presentation: HoE Dominicans

Download: RAISING VICTOR VARGAS POWERPOINT PRESENTATION

223 Responses to 7. Raising Victor Vargas

  1. montanabeutler says:

    This was my first time watching “Raising Victor Vargas,” and it certainly left an impression. The story of a pubescent papi chulo living in new york during the nineties, Sollett directs a beautiful and original coming of age story that I believe many young people can relate to. I like the choice of this movie for this specific class, because although it focused on a certain culture and age of people, I think the central message reads to people from all different walks of life. Firstly this is true because I think all if not most people have known someone like Victor in their lives. That boy who thinks he is gods gift to women, unafraid of any and all female conquests, has probably crossed our paths at some point. Whether you knew this type personally, or had a chance encounter with them, this movie delves into the realities of the boy behind this front. The film did a great job at revealing his true insecurities, his deep seeded need to have a home and be loved by someone, and how important family really was to him at the end of the day.
    Secondly, I enjoyed how the film showed both sides of the sex’s views when it came to love, trust, and sex during teenagerdom. So far in this class, we have seen these issues solely through the eyes of men, focusing on how women could be used, violence was employed in certain cases, or some first encounters with sex that ended well or badly. In “Raising Victor Vargas,” Victor and Julie, as well as their two best friends, illustrate the tension related to sex and intimacy many people feel when having their first experiences with them. Sollett shows the emphasis on chastity and coyness often put on girls, and conversely the emphasis on conquest and experience required of boys. I believe this reveals much about young people in america today, not only in the hispanic community, but far beyond this. As we have discussed on this blog and in class, the reasons behind these paradigms usually stem from our cultural norms as put forward by mass media, and/or religion. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and it made me think about these as well as many other issues that cross the span of young american people’s lives.

    • Lauren Todd says:

      I agree, this is an awesome coming of age story and is very relatable. I also like the fact that we see the outlook of both genders, not only the males like our past works. I feel that is an important part of this class not only what latino men think of themselves, lives, and situations, but how women view them and see latino masculinity themselves. I also, think that part of why it was so funny because it brought us back to this time in our lives; Our first love, heart-break, and experience. You’re right, a lot of the issues that were in this movie cross the span of young american people’s lives not only one kind.

    • Lima James says:

      This was definitely a movie that took that can be related to our own lives of the nineties. As you said, it remind us of those people we encountered in our lives at some point in time, that “I’m the coolest guy ever, I can get any girl I want” type. This being able to relate to the character was the funny part, because you think back to your experience or what you have seen. It was a great movies in that it projected how life really is, or the characteristics of people in reality. I enjoyed the movie very much!

      • I agree. I laughed the most when Victor and Harold were trying their pick-up lines on Judy and Melonie. My first thought was “do people really do that?!” followed by “oh wait of course they do!” and it brought me back to when guys thought that they could use any line to get with any girl.

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      This coming of age story both tickles me and brings me back to my days living in Holyoke, Ma. So many similarities of the immaturity of Victor and when I was 16. His perception of masculinity was distorted, but then again, what should you expect from a 16 year old boy who did not have a father in the home raising him. His viewpoints are learned from media and the streets.

      • arussell11 says:

        I think that you are all right in saying that this coming of age story is very relatable and humbling. I like your critique of Victor’s insecurities and personality that he expresses during the movie. This movie also shows the development of some of the masculine stereotypes that we see in so many other works that we’ve studied in this class.

      • I agree with you that this movie is a story of coming of age . That is why this movie was so relate -able because its experiences that we encounter in our youth . Growing up in inner city i have witnessed many of the situations that Victor encountered. It was really enjoyable to see something that is so familiar

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        I agree with your comment Jean-Claude. Due to the fact that Victor had no father figure in the home to show him the right way he took what he learned from the streets and the media and applied it to him. He thought that slick talk and licking of the lips was going to attract all the girls he wanted.

      • Britaney Guzman says:

        Agreed! Media does have a huge impact on how young men learn what masculinity is, and the different types of it. I find it interesting that what he learned from the media failed him in getting the one girl he did want, so he had to forget all of that and take a different approach. This shows how one’s experiences are more educational and impact them more than what they seee on TV or magazines.

    • So true how you said he thought he was God’s gift to the world! Hilarious, because he at first approached the ladies with such confidence and “swagger”, later in the movie you see how he lowers himself down to opening up his reality to the one girl he actually cared about.

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        I found it very sweet that he actually opened up to this one girl and that he liked her so much. Although he was always trying to be so tough, you can see towards the end of the movie how he starts changing and actually maturing into a young man. The fact that he tried to do little things to put a smile of Judie’s face was cute like taking her to where the chicks were. The reality that he was not as tough as he portrayed himself to be was also apparent in the film when the grandmother takes him to social services to hand him over. Over and over again he pleaded to his grandmother not to do so something a real tough guy would not have done.

      • Britaney Guzman says:

        I love that he opened himself up to the one girl at the end! It makes me think of the line where he said he wanted her to see him in his “beat up chancletas”. This shows how Victor learned a different type of masculinity, other than trying to have this “swagger” all the time.

      • I also enjoyed seeing Victor’s character grow throughout the movie. When he was talking about the “beat up chancletas” just how Britaney mentioned was really Victor opening up because this shows that he was willing to let Judy see him completely vulnerable. He wanted Judy to accept him for who he is. Victor has always had a wall up which explains his papi chulo attitude because inside he is really not that type of guy, he is actually loving and caring.

      • chloebx says:

        I agree it was hilarious seeing him act the way he did and how he swore he was everything and a bag of chips. But he encountered a young woman who was not going to have any of that charade. For him it took being dismissed and shut down to become a bit humble in his ways.

  2. Lauren Todd says:

    I really enjoyed this film, “ Raising Victor Vargas.” Not only is it hilarious and interesting but, it shows a very accurate representation of young and poor Latinos growing up in the city and even more generally all young people growing up in most places. The thing that had the whole class laughing is partly because it is so relatable. The movie itself felt very real and deals with issues we all go through; fights with siblings, disobeying your parents, and peer pressure. By doing this presentation I discovered that the director, Sollett, used all unprofessional actors, all of them were from the Lower East side and a lot of the dialogue was improv. I really feel that the fact that he did this made the movie and made it more real, because it practically was. Victor is a young, very conceited papi chulo who genuinely thinks he is God’s gift to women. Throughout the movie we see the pressure he has to be this ‘masculine Latino image’, which he most definitely portrays. Although, this is not who he is at heart .It takes a very strong, dominant, and aggressive young lady, Judy, to allow him to break free of the stereotypes that holds him together and show not only to her, but everyone, who Victor Vargas really is. Before Judy, Victor stresses on making sure he is this alpha male; suave/smooth, ladies man, tough and sexual. Like he says throughout the movie “ I’m Victor Vargas, do you know who I am? I’m Victor Vargas” like it means something. When he almost loses Judy, his family, and his dignity is when we see this sensitive, insecure, and submissive Victor come out. We see Victor Vargas, his true colors at a time when he feels unwanted, unloved, and unsure of who he is. It’s around this time when he realizes what is important; his family, Judy, and showing people his true self. This movie is similar to the other works in class, but this is also very different. Some of the themes that were prevalent in the others were drugs, absent fathers, and experimenting with sexuality and we do not see those reoccurring themes in this movie, which was a nice change. This movie was very well-done and allowed the class to analyze gendered norms, sex/intimacy, and Latino culture as well as be thoroughly entertained.

    • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

      I just wrote my reply and realized we talked about a ton of the same things. I absolutely agree with what you are saying as far as themes and how Victor goes from thinking he is the greatest guy in the world and he can please any woman to a sensitive guy who changes his ways after getting in trouble numberous times. I think its funny how both he and his friend changed and were really sensitive around the two girls when they were hanging out with them individually but as soon as they got together they were bragging and being obnoxious about what happened (and what didn’t happen). It definitely shows how important a masculine image was for the two of them.

    • JessicaRaugitinane says:

      I like how you described Victor as realizing and showing his “true colors” by the end of the movie. He transformed into a man that didn’t need to try and act as a papi chulo. At first, he licked his lips excessively. It was almost difficult to watch the scene when he was flirting with Judy at the pool because he licked his lips almost after every word! However, by the end of the movie, I didn’t notice him licking his lips at all when talking to Judy, representing how he has matured into a man that doesn’t need to act in certain ways to get girls. Victor simply acts as himself, revealing his true colors.

      • amyhahm says:

        I agree! I liked how you described Victor as showing his ‘true colors’ because by the end of the movie, you realize his whole papi chulo character was an act! Victor actually turned out to be quite sensitive and caring, especially towards his family, when we first didn’t realize it in the beginning of the movie. He quit trying to ‘seduce’ Judy, and instead, open up to her by letting her eat dinner with his family and introducing her to his life at home instead of his ‘player’ motif.

    • I liked how you said “I really feel that the fact that he did this made the movie and made it more real, because it practically was”, because in reality if you go to the bronx or harlem many kids do live their life that way. Influences is the number one trend that affects almost all teens growing up in those environments, and yes the themes in the movie as well as in real life “being portrayed as a movie” are as you mentioned throughly entertaining.

      • chloebx says:

        Agreed. Being born and raised in the Bronx and having close ties with the other boroughs, I can say confidently that kids and teens do live their lives that way…unless they have a strong parental unit that keeps them in check. I myself did not have the opportunity to hang out on the stoop or roam the streets at night. And to my parents, I am eternally grateful, for kids like Victor and Judy don’t always make it out of adolescence unscathed with lifetime regrets and daily reminders of those mistakes (babies).

      • I agree the director definitely wanted to connect with his audience. The fact that the majority of the actors were not professional contributed to the feel of this being real. I think it is even more interesting that many of the actors characters were their name. The director wanted to create an atmosphere that was not forced but natural.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Lauren I couldn’t have said it better. You bring up very excellent point. Like everyone else I do believe people can relate to this film because a lot of us have encountered someone like Victor,Judy, and the grandmother in our life. I find it interesting that you said, Victor’s character needed a strong willed person such as Judy, because it brought him down to earth. I completely agree with this statement because often people get to caught up in the “heat” of the moment and often it takes a stubborn and strong willed person to bring that person back to reality.

  3. Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

    I really enjoyed this film. I think it was entertaining and funny but it touches on a lot of issues within the community and within the family. The humor throughout the film makes these issues less serious than the other films we have watched but they are still present. One of the major ones that I noticed was the absence of parents, especially fathers and children being raised in women-run households. Victor and his siblings were being taken care of by the grandmother, Judy’s mother opened the door for Victor and there was no mention of a father, and throughout the film there were no positive male role models for the kids. Another issue that we have talked about in class is masculinity and how it is learned/taught from a young age. This was clearly a cultural feature in the film because Victor and his friend were both trying to come off as really secure and masculine when they first met the girls at the pool and he was also acting like a tough guy when his brother would ask him questions about girls.

    I do think it is interesting to see how much Victor changes when he realizes how much he cares about Judy and wants her to like him back. We have talked about masculinity a lot but there have been some discussions about men caring about the women in their lives and he clearly changes his attitude when he realizes she won’t tolerate the way he’s acting. It was also the same with the grandmother. He was so emotional and hurt after she tried to get rid of him and then later at the house we see him asking her if she has eaten anything and he makes her a sandwich. So as much as he wants to be seen as masculine, tough, sexually experienced, etc., when he is around his friends and in public, he changes a lot when he sees that his behavior is causing more harm than good with the women in his life.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      I agree with you, Victor does change his was after he realizes that his actions are affecting the people he loves, in this case mainly the women in his life. I think that Victor begins to actually pay more attention to the women in his life like his sister, his grandmother, and Judy. Victor begins to put more effort into his relationships with these women and actually tries to understand them and their reason as well as perspectives. Eventually he arrives at the conclusion that he was wrong about what he thought women liked and looked for. For example he might have thought that his grandmother would put up with his actions because she once did for her husband (Victor’s grandfather).

      • I agree! Just as I said in my post, it took Victor almost being kicked out of the house for him to realize that family is important and he needs to cherish what he has now rather than put up a fake front. He is more attentive to his grandmother, brother, and even his sister, all of which help him with patience and toning down his act. It was at this point that we were able to see the real Victor and progress with his relationship with Judy.

      • amyhahm says:

        This is interesting! I actually didn’t really see this until I read your post! I now see where his change was rooted from. Because he does have the soft interior, he changes his machismo act in order to protect the women in his life. The way he behaves also affects Judy. I never really realized where his actions started changing, or directly understood why, but this gave me a better idea why, and what his character is like. It is good to see that Victor did care enough about his family to start behaving better.

    • Lima James says:

      One of the things I found interesting in the film too was that although it came off funny and entertaining to appeal to the audience, at the same it touched a lot of the essential themes talked about in class.

      And it was interesting to see that although he was trying to play this tough, cool, sexy guy, at the end of the day he cared a lot about his grandmother. You can definitely tell that he loves her a lot throughout the movie.

      • ElisePrairie says:

        I also liked that the themes we’ve been talking about in class were able to be brought up in this film in a funny and entertaining way. It reinforced a lot of what we’ve seen in other literature yet showed it in a lighter tone. Definitely a good complement to this class.

      • montanabeutler says:

        As we talked about today, it is sort of an MTV movie in the way that it skirts any gritty details about their lives in favor of instead creating an entertaining movie that could spark conversations about sexuality, belongingness and family issues. The question was posed today if this is a US American way of presenting difficult or taboo material in order to soften the blow of its message. I think this topic is interesting, as it does seem at times that in the US we tend to be uncomfortable with overt sexuality. In Europe, however, this is very different. Their rating system for movies is lax, if existent at all, and there tend to me more acceptable forms of nudity available to a greater population of people. Sex education is more readily available in many western european countries, where policy makers take a stance for pragmatic teen information on how to be safe sexually. (http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/component/content/article/419-adolescent-sexual-health-in-europe-and-the-us) Studies show this leads to lower instances of many STDs as well as teen pregnancy. So why in the face of these clear connections between sexual openness and a lesser instance of these issues does the USA continue to be so dodgy about teen sex?
        This movie sparked my interest in this issue, and as I reflected on the other materials we have read, it appears that averting talking about or dealing with sex is not only a US American attribute, but may also be a part of a hispanic view. This might be due to a prevalence of christian values in both cultures. Perhaps this is why this movie did so well in the US, because it didn’t push too many buttons in this way. I found it easier to talk about further than perhaps some other of the grittier novels or movies we have watched, because it could apply to my life.

      • Going back to what Montana said, shows and movies in Canada and Europe have lower parental guidelines than we have in the United States. Two such instances are “Degrassi” and “Skins.” “Degrassi” first aired in Canada in the 1990’s, but when episodes started airing in the US, many episodes and scenarios were omitted for American audiences (ex: the topics of abortion and date rape). A more recent incidence is “Skins.” “Skins” was sensored for American audiences (ex: no nudity of minors), but parental organizations still petitioned for the show to get stripped from MTV.

      • i agree with your comment that the movie was provided a more enjoyable view of all the themes that we have discussed throughout the semester. I feel that in society we all take up roles and play those roles according to society’s norms

      • Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

        Your right. I feel that, that is the case with many latino teens. They always want to play so tough and cool when in reality they are as soft as a marshmallow. I have encountered a lot of teens like Victor who swear to the death of them that they are the hottest thing moving, but when it comes to the mother figures in their lives its something else.

      • Britaney Guzman says:

        This is definitely the trend we see so far in this class. Young Latino men may either have to, or just want to have this tough exterior… but when it comes to strong female presences in their lives, such as their mother or grandmother… all of that is gone. I find that very interesting and true in my family too. I wonder why that is.

      • Brimar Guerrero says:

        Lima, I completely agree with your comment. Even though Victor was trying to play the “tough/cool” he clearly was a sensitive guy. I came to this conclusion, when his grandmother was about to kick him out and he was crying at nighttime because he felt that his grandmother did not love him anymore. In addition, when he found out that Judy was trying to “play” him he seemed to be really hurt and that is why he tried to come off as if he didn’t care about her.

        Overall, I do believe the film portrays a lot of the themes that we have discussed in class but it also show a different aspect of Latino Masculinity.

    • JessicaRaugitinane says:

      I think the two issues you mentioned connect quite well to each other. The absence of father-figures and women-run households affects the other issue of masculinity being taught from a young age. Since there are no father figures, the young boys learn how to be a man from other sources like the media, pop culture, and society. Unfortunately leading to false interpretations of being a man like being a papi chulo and getting with many girls.

      • amyhahm says:

        I also thought it was about the trend of absence of father figures. In this movie, one of the first things i realized was Victor’s family and home structure. He also points out that his idol is his grandfather. I was wondering if the absence of a father figure would affect his idea of masculinity and what role he should take on at such an early age. I was thinking that maybe because he had no father figure, was the reason why he endured on his machismo, papi chulo attitude in the beginning.

    • You said “One of the major ones that I noticed was the absence of parents, especially fathers and children being raised in women-run households”, and I agree with you, because when his grandmother was so close to giving up her own grandchild due to his poor actions, you really got the sense and felt the character’s desperation of realizing that she’s all he’s got in life. She did good by teaching him tough love.

      • montanabeutler says:

        I also think in households without fathers, single mothers create their own type of masculinity. In trying to be both parental figures, the caretaker must assume roles traditionally reserved for the opposite sex. In a father-only household, it may be that he becomes more nurturing to his children, and is therefore seen as more effeminate because of this behavior. Or, conversely, a single mother becomes an enforcer of rules, and more of a problem-solver in a hands-on way in the same vein a father might do. Perhaps this is why in Victor Vargas’s life, his grandmother was a little more tough, her masculinity came out because of the lack of that leadership in the household.

      • chloebx says:

        I agree, at first watching that scene years ago, I felt really bad for Victor because at that time I did not really see the hardships parents and guardians had to face in the “hood”. But as I matured through my own life experiences, I now understand the abuela. A person handling 3 kids can only take so much, especially a conservative person like her. I can’t say that I would not do the same thing because you can only discipline and threaten teenagers to a certain extent and once they realize or “think” they are old enough to do “adult” things, there is no stopping their inflated ego. Sometime you must let them spread their wings, fly and crash and soon after they’ll realize that what you did for them was for their own benefit.

    • arussell11 says:

      The absence of parental figures is an important observation. I agree that this definitely changes the way in which people grow up. In this case, it is something that we explore through masculinity and Latino families.

    • chloebx says:

      I honestly feel that if his parents were there, not much would have changed, unless, they were those parents who are actually attentive to what their children are up to and who they hang out with and preventing them from hanging out in the streets. I’ve met many kids and teens who have both parents at home but end up either knocked up, locked up, have a record, or influencing their younger siblings with the crap they learn from the streets. Being aware and providing tough love is, I feel, essential in raising urban children.

      • dipali1991 says:

        I agree with you! I think parents need to attentive to their children in order for them to turn out right. Some children just have a good head on their shoulders to begin with but for most children parental guidance is needed in order for them to grow up with values etc. A lot of parents are too busy with their own lives and very stressed with their own lives that they don’t have time to pay attention to their child. Because of this neglet their child can hang out with whomever he pleases whether that be a good or bad crowd. In this case of Victor, I honesty do not think it would’ve made a difference whether or not his parents were around to help raise him and his siblings. I think this because I feel that the parents would be working and be worrying about their own lives. I feel that Victor’s grandmother really loved them and took care of them the same way if not better than their parents did and would’ve had they been around.

        I feel that Victor’s grandmother was in a way too nice to Victor. She cared and loved him so much that she let many things that he did go. It was apparent in this movie that his grandmother was helpless to a lot of situations and she couldn’t do much. The scene where she brings Victor to the authorities shows just how clueless she is about the world and shows that she only wants to help Victor, but needs help on how to control him. All in all though, I feel that Victor and his siblings realize how much his grandmother love them and want to please her or gain her approval.

  4. anadiezcanseco says:

    This movie was very funny, overall I enjoyed it. The messages in the story are very straightforward. Like an old saying in spanish “dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres”, Victor was imitating much of what his friends and neighborhood kids were doing. He really did not have it that bad, compared to other teenagers his age in worse circumstances. Victor was just trying to find his masculinity through being careless and rebellious. The beginning of the movie shows how he tries to find his masculinity by having sex with a girl from his building ,but is interrupted. Then like almost all spanish movies he falls in love, and towards the beginning of his pursuit for the girl he comes on as this confident secure guy, but later on in the story he opens up letting is “masculinity” guard down.
    The scene when he was about to have sex with the girl from his building seemed to play fast and it felt as though the producer wanted the viewer to over look this side of Victor. Then the clips of the movie where his grandmother was showering him in the bathtub and when he was crying after his grandmother almost kicked him out, went slower and allowed the viewer to take it in more and see that Victor was only trying to find himself but really deep down he was still a kid who was just growing up too fast.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      I liked the fact that you added the saying “dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres”. I also think that the saying goes along with the movie. Victor was acting according to what he saw in other males in his neighborhood and from what he had heard of his grandfather. I also noticed that Victor and Harold and Melonie and Judy are are complementing characters. In one hand, Harold is a naturally charming guy while Victor tried to be charming and suave. Similarly, Judy put walls up that prevented people (mostly men) to get close to her while Melonie put her walls up because she is very insecure about herself. So yes the characters have similar traits and maybe that is the reason why they are friends but they each have individual reasons for being that way.

      • While the characters seem to compliment each other, I also think that each character represents a different kind of masculinity/femininity. I think that Victor represented the want to be papi chulo/arrogant (wasn’t an effective way to get a woman’s attention), versus Harold who approached Melonie with the more affectionate/humble approach. Judy represented the girl who was very guarded (trying to protect herself) whereas Melonie was willing to follow her heart.

    • chloebx says:

      I love how you brought up that saying “dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres”. To me, aside from the whole religious aspect, Im pretty sure that is how his abuela felt as well. I, myself, was raised by that saying and it is true. You hang out with hoodlums, and people who do not know you will assume that you are one. Granted it isn’t good to assume what/who a person is by their association, however, one must be aware of their surroundings and realize that hanging in the streets with kids/adults who have nothing going on with their own lives will only bring you down. Misery loves company. Victor’s persona only thrived when he was around his guy friends. He became a person he wasnt just to fit in with the “cool” guys, when in reality they are doing to the same as well.

      • Brimar Guerrero says:

        Everyone brings up great points. I too grew up with the saying ” you are who you hangout with” and I am a firm believer that this truly does apply to many people. Like Chole said, if a person hangs out with the wrong crowd then others will automatically assume that they only find themselves into trouble. In my opinion, the crowd of people that once chooses to hangout with out portrays who we are as people because every person has something different too bring to the table and in most friendships, people either hangout with those who are similar to them or they associate themselves with people whom they wish they could be like.

  5. chloebx says:

    I have loved this movie since it first came out in 2002. To me it paints an accurate portrait of how pre-teens and teens have acted and still act to this day in urban NYC. As everyone had seen, Victor was just a regular teenage boy who tried to maintain that “tough”, “papi chulo” image in front of his friends, girls and ultimately himself. You see how teenage boys act around each other and how they use each other as “motivational support” to keep up their own acts.
    And you see my favorite character Vicki who is this young girl who also put up a “front” of being a tough little girl who is not bothered by anything. As one can see, she is in fact just a little girl who has to fend for herself in her own home and who is in fact a nice, strong willed girl who just needs love and affection and also guidance into her upcoming transition into being a young lady.
    And then you see the loving Grandma who seems cruel at one point but in fact truly loves her grand children and want nothing but the best for them. She also uses them, especially Nino as an emotional crutch. As Victor says towards the end, “They” are all she has and once she realizes that, one can assume their lives have gotten better since that point.
    And finally you see the two main teenage girls, Judy and Melonie, you at first have this agreement to never let those typical boys they encounter on a daily basis in. But as the story progresses, they (in their own way) let these two boys in and go through a personal transformation which softens up the hardened girls inside of them.

    • Lauren Todd says:

      Chloe, I like how you say how Vicky has to fend for herself in her home. That is exactly what it is because she has no one really advocating for her or helping her out in anyways. She is strong because she was made strong by her growing up. You’re right with Nino too. Nino is her emotional crutch. Nino is what helps her through the days just knowing she has done a right job on him all is good. That is why when he plays the piano she lights up with joy and when he was caught masturbating that was the end. Good interpretation!

      • ElisePrairie says:

        Vicky is made strong in a similar way that Judy is. Judy has to find off a lot of unwanted attention from guys in her life and this continual behavior has made her very tough. Similar to the way Vicky fends off unwated negative attention from Victor (and possibly others) she has become tougher from it, not giving in or reinforcing the machismo behaivor.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I think Vicky is so tough because she knows she has no one to fall back on if she did become soft, emotional, girly, etc. Victor seems to do his own thing with his friends and maintain his own confidence (even though some of it is fake) and Nino is the innocent youngest child that the grandmother is trying to hold onto to make sure he doesn’t end up acting like Victor. Vicky not having a mother or a sister around and lacking a personal relationship with the grandmother feeds into her personality a lot.

    • Your second paragraph is so typical of most girls! coming from a girl herself. When you mentioned how Judy and Mel made the agreement to never let their guards down to boys, but when they allowed their feelings to take control it turned out to be much different then their “perfect world” inside of their heads. Realistically when you fall for someone , especially girls, you don’t think with your head. LOVE IS BLIND! and CAN soften up the hardest of hearts!

      • chloebx says:

        Agreed! Love or what you “think” is Love can make you do the dumbest things. I can definitely relate to those girls, that is how life was for me growing up in the “hood”. Disrespectful men and delusional little boys everywhere you turn. As a girl, you must build up a wall and protect yourself or else get sucked into a vicious cycle where there is no silver lining. This movie is great at portraying “real” life people and situations.

      • It is funny seeing the conversation between Judy and Mel because many girls talk about how they will never get married or ever fall in love, pretty much keeping a hard exterior. However, when the “right” guy comes around or someone who works to break down their wall then those promises are old news, it is just one of those experiences that one has to go through to understand. I want to relate this more to our latino masculinity class because love is blind and if someone has strong feelings for another person that happens to be the same gender no one can really tell them that it is wrong or that they should not fall in love with that person.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Chloe, I think you have summed up the film in a great way. I do believe that the film accurately portrays the experiences that teens growing up in an Urban area face. This film really reminds me of my upbringing because it demonstrates how guys were always trying to get with girls but the girls always acted as if they didn’t like the attention, when in reality they did.

      • chloebx says:

        Yes! This film brings me back to my grad school days and the everyday experiences of growing up in the ‘hood”. “Skirt chasing” boys and “playing hard to get” girls were a typical sight around the urban communities.

  6. montanabeutler says:

    Reading some of the other posts, I realize many others touched on how strong willed many of the women were in the film. I think its very interesting how in all other books/articles/films we have seen, there weren’t any especially strong women who held control over others the way that men seemed to do. However, in “Vargas,” almost every woman seemed to be stubborn, willful, and strong! This new view of hispanic women in the face of much of the machismo attitude is refreshing.

    • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

      I think this is a really good point. I hadn’t really looked at it from this perspective but it is true that it’s a lot different than all of the other films and books we have talked about. Judy and the Grandmother are both strong women and in the brief moment of Judy’s mom opening the door you see her being direct and asking Victor who he is and why he’s there and he knows he needs to be respectful to this woman. Maybe it is the absence of male role models and father figures that puts more pressure on the girls and women to be strong and independent.

      • chloebx says:

        It is most definitely one of the reasons why most girls become abrasive and headstrong, the lack of a man in the house makes it hard to grow up a delicate flower. However, being raised by parents who desire you being independent and abrasive towards boys can also be another reason. However in the case of Judy, her father is not present int he film, which could mean that she was raised by her mother alone and by the way she treated her brother, it shows she helped her mother take care of her brother. Its not uncommon for girls of 6 and up, helping their mothers with their younger siblings….I think its a maternal instinct women are born with.

    • It was definately interesting for once in this class to see some strong willed women. Instead of just being objects or being treated unfairly but doing nothing about, we finally have some women who demand respect and have power.

      • ElisePrairie says:

        I agree this was a great shift! We finally got to see women characters developed and shown in an empowering way. I know we’ve characterized women as being very submissive so far so Judy brings up a good perspective.

    • Lauren Todd says:

      So true! I noticed this also and I liked how women were represented and had a voice. The women in “Vargas” were powerful women that sometimes even dominated the men. You’re right it was extremely refreshing to see this!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! especially the grandmother! she was funny and sweet but when it came to showing her stronger side she was not shy to reveal it! and she definitely showed her grandchildren TOUGH LOVE!

    • Katheryn Maldonado says:

      I agree with you Montana, it is refreshing. I discussed this a lot in my post, but the literature and movies we have read haven’t shined a light on the other side of Hispanic women. What a lot of people don’t see is that a great deal of Hispanic women play the role of being strong and stern figures in the household. Being a Latina, a great deal of women in my family that take on this strong and dominating role in their families, with or without a male figure around. It was not surprising for me to see the Grandmother being so stern and forceful, because Hispanic woman do not always play the submissive role in their families.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      This is a very good point!! I completly agree, I have to admit reading or hearing of all of these Latina women just accepting being cheated on was kind of putting me in a slump… but this movie definitly changed my attitude towards them (us). Very refreshing!

      • montanabeutler says:

        Totally agree as well. It can get really frustrating watching all sorts of romantic comedies, reading magazines etc and getting fed the message that you need a man to survive, or that all men are pigs/cheaters. Raising Victor Vargas got real with American teens, and I think gave them a real look at what everyone is feeling, men the need to “score” to prove their manhood, and women needing a man to feel protected. In the end, the couples that ended up getting together struck a great balance between them, and you felt that you don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend to be validated, but if you want one to share experiences with thats good too.

    • arussell11 says:

      I agree. It was nice to see a different type of woman here. Prior to watching this movie, the movies and books read previously painted women as passive and subordinate to men. Here, we see the more independent woman with agency over herself.

  7. Julissa Antigua says:

    I really enjoyed the movie “Raising Victor Vargas”. It portrayed very serious and important matter in a less bitter way, without minimizing the effect or seriousness of the matter. Like the ladies above mentioned this is story about Victor’s coming of age. In the movie Victor was only a teenager trying to prove he was a man instead of actually being one. Victor slept around with girls to prove his manhood and his sexuality at the same time. In fact when Victor’s brother Nino accidentally cuddled up to him one night Victor freaked out and quickly pushed him off, even though that is just his brother. At such a young age Victor only saw a few of the qualities that typically qualify men as masculine. As far as being sexually active and doing as he pleased Victor was masculine. But he lacked other important qualities such as providing for his family and holding a secure job. I think that this combined with the fact that Victor usually tried so hard to act overly masculine made it harder for others to view Victor the way he wanted them too. Like one of the presenters on the movie repeatedly stated, Victor was trying to be a papi chulo it didn’t come natural.

    Besides that this movie is the perfect medium between a regular movie and a chick flick. The fact that Victor goes through such a drastic change throughout the entire movie makes the movie really sweet and appealing to the female audience. And the fact that he changed his ways for Judy the girl he liked and his grandmother makes it even better! My favorite part of the movie was the beginning when Victor is with Fat Donna. He was all bout being with her but only in secret. His plan failed once he answered to his friend from her apartment window. After this Victor denied that he was ever there the whole movie. All because Victor based his manhood on “scoring dimes” and Donna did not fall into that category. Another part I enjoyed was the fighting scenes between the siblings because it reminded me of my personal relationship with my brother. From the outside looking in it is very comical.

    • Jacob Finlan says:

      I think that Victor is meant to almost be a parody of machismo, because he’s got all of the hyper-masculine qualities, but lacks any of the big societal qualities of being a Latino man with machismo. He can get with girls, he can act all suave, but when it comes down to it, he’s not a provider for his family/household.

      • arussell11 says:

        This is a great observation and something that I didn’t consider. Now that you shed light on it, I think that this is fair and accurate compared to other Latinos such as Piri.

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      Fat Donna, on the surface, seems to be a funny additive to the movie. Yet we see Victor willing to do just about anything to fill his sexual quota, including being with a woman that when it goes public, he is absolutely ashamed of and lies/destroys property just to save his skin. How did such blatent rejection feel for Fat Donna? The name alone comes with a stigma. Added to that was her rejection by Victor.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I was hoping Fat Donnas character would resurface and she would stick up for herself later in the movie. Clearly the point of him denying his involvement with her to his friends shows that he only wants to be known as a guy who hooks up with good looking girls that would make other people jealous but in his alone time without his friends, he is okay with sleeping with her because he wants to feel like a man and knows she will have sex with him. I was pleased to see that Victor changed at the end of the film for Judy but I don’t think he would have taken the time to be a better person and ever pursue a relationship with Fat Donna because of her appearance and him thinking he deserves girls that other guys want.

      • I agree and thought it was funny how Victor would have done anything to avoid the fact that he had something going on with Fat Donna. The men who are able to “conquer” as many women as possible is always seen as hero or something and receive tons of high-fives. However, if a man sleeps with an women that is not physically attractive then they do not get the same praise and are practically a joke. I remember someone saying that there is a hierarchy as to how society views men and their sexual interest. Men with attractive women at the top, men with unattractive women and then at the bottom men with men.

    • You said the movie strayed from being just a “chick flick” and you’re right. Most movies now have an ongoing theme and that is love, betrayal, and hero. In this movie it really pleased all audiences and was not just a lovey dovey film.

    • chloebx says:

      And I still stand by what I said, it did not come out natural. Victor had to force out a character that was beyond him. He had the developing looks but not the charisma. However towards the end of the movie I actually developed some sympathy for Victor because the poor kid actually thought that was what it took to be a man. And like you mentioned above, he did not provide for his family or held a job, which is something I honestly completely overlooked. He is constantly surrounded by little boys who are in the same rut as he is and by men who lack morals and dignity. One cannot be surprised by how he acted. His only beacon of light was his abuela and most of the day he is either out acting a fool or in the house either sleeping, watching tv or arguing with his sister and barely spending time with his “mother”.

  8. Lima James says:

    I really enjoyed this film. I’m glad that I had the chance to watch this in class. It was so funny and brought back so many memories. I was definitely able to related to our own lives of the nineties. It reminded me of that “I’m the coolest guy ever, I can get any girl I want” type of guy that I have seen. I really liked the way the film was carried out too. In that, although it came off funny and appealing to audience, it projected some of the essential characteristic and themes we have studied in class so far. We have talked about the stereotypes of how others think Latino men are or their behavior towards woman, and for the “macho, trying to girls” portion, i believe the movie projected it correctly. And we were able to see this through youngsters. How even at such a young age, they give so much importance to being a “man” and having all of those masculine traits. And the way they try to prove this through getting the girls to like them and do things with them.
    Which brings me to the girls in this film, and how they initially view the boys and then give in kind of. First the two best friends seem to have this pack or deal that neither will do anything without telling or before the other. And at the pool, they too “pretend” to be not interested and come off strong on confident as ” I don’t like you, I don’t need any guys in my life or I don’t like guys”. But then later on, when the two girls are alone with the guys, they seem to interact and loosen up more. I think there is definitely a role that one should pay around their friends (cool), their family (innocent), and when they are alone (who they really are).

    And it was interesting to see that although Victor was trying to play this tough, cool, sexy guy, at the end of the day he really cared a lot about his grandmother and towards the end for Judy too. He tries to change after his grandmother says she doesn’t want him in the house because he is a bad influence to the others. I personally feel that he didn’t try to change a whole lot. He was just being straightforward with his grandma about the phone, unlocking it. But then he does cook with her and have this very bonding scene where to the audience it portrays him being good. But i really with the going out to see Judy and his friend, I feel he’s was being the same as before.

    • I agree with you, because it is funny how you mentioned that most latino men from a young age try to show their manly side. You are correct! and im referring to the film, because the main character Victor opens up the movie by attempting to have intercourse with a girl his friends and sister think of as “weird” , but to him it wasn’t about the girl but instead just “getting it in” to feel he was a man. I found it hilarious!

    • chloebx says:

      Yeah, I understand where you’re coming from when you said he didn’t really change. I think that was intentional by the director or writer. The problem with Victor was how he viewed women and how he thought a real man was supposed to act. Towards the end of the movie, you see him slowly changing for the better. One cannot truly change overnight. At the end of the movie, you see him take baby steps, as well as Judy and the rest of the main characters. The abuela is slowly trying to be understanding, Vicki is slowly coming out of her defensive shell and interacting with her new boy-friend Carlos. I think the film ended right, left the audience imagining what could’ve happened next.

  9. This was a pretty good movie. I liked how it showed how victor tries to put up a facade of being a tough guy and a player when he’s trying to impress girls or talking to his brother, when in reality he has insecurities and can be a good guy, as shown by when he would get his grandmother something to eat, or how he cries when she tries to kick him out or how upset he got when he found out judy was only going out with him to deter other guys from hitting on her. This movie fit the theme of fictions of latino masculinity because victor showed the stereotype of a hispanic guy who viewed women as objects and only wants people to see him as tough and a lady’s man. But for once in the class we don’t only see the action through the eyes of a man we also see the girls side and how they feel about everything.

    • Lauren Todd says:

      I agree. The thing with Victor also is that since he represses his true self so much he acts like this jerk when deep down he is a good guy like you said. Victor does has a ‘heart’, but the whole stereotype for latino masculinities is too be macho and to not care so he hides his feelings, which he shouldn’t. By the end of the movie he sees that to be a man is to be true to yourself and nothing more.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I’m glad that we saw hiim differently in the end than in the beginning but the majority of the movie shows so many steretypical behaviors of Latino boys/men. I agree that he clearly does have a heart and care about more than just himself but he also spends 90% of the movie trying to act macho and maintain a masculine identity so his friends and even his younger brother think he is tough. He only becomes emotional when really bad things happen like his grandmother trying to kick him out and Judy flipping out on him.

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      It is healthy for the author to have shown papi chulo being not so papi chulo when he broke down and cried. It really breaks down the latino masculinity image. It should be viewed as okay for a young male to cry when he feels pain. It is also okay for a young man to show emotions and to show that he wants to be loyal to one woman. These are the kinds of positive images that hopefully will help young, upcoming latino males be better boyfriends and husbands.

      • dipali1991 says:

        I agree with this statement! Usually a male Latino male is portrayed as a “Papi Chulo” but I liked how this movie took the time to show the audience that deep inside every male still has emotions. Like Jean-Claude says this movie shows males that it is okay to show emotion and even cry when they feel pain. It shows males that females are not the only ones that are allowed to show emotion, and that if a male were to show emotion that they would still be accepted by society. I also liked how this movie showed how Victor was willing to take the next step to understand Judy’s emotions and feelings. He really wanted to make her happy and was willing to talk to her to get a jist of how she felt. I thought this was very brave of him because usually a lot of males like to put on a front and avoid talking about feelings.

    • I liked how you said that we didn’t just see the story from the eyes of a man but instead also of that of a woman. Good point made, because from a man’s point of view we would’ve seen more sex, machismo, and violence. From a woman’s side for example the grandma and girl’s, we saw more of a caring, hurtful, and tender side.

  10. JessicaRaugitinane says:

    “Raising Victor Vargas” portrays the life of a Latino community in the lower East side of New York. The movie depicts characters of dominant, strong personalities. I view this as the characters taking on a masculine exterior in order to survive and make it through life in the lower East side. The movie never shows adult males, only teenage males, suggesting that the characters take on a masculine identity to make up for this absence of adult males. Judy’s mother is only shown, while her father is absent. Judy is a strong woman that stays away from males because she thinks she will be better off independent and without a male partner. Likewise, Victor lacks a father figure and embodies a “papi chulo” to determine his manliness by how many quality girls he can get since he does not have a father-figure to teach him about how to be a “man”. Similarly, Vicki also takes on a masculine, “bitchy” attitude since she feels the need to be independent and stand up for herself since she does not have a father-figure to do this for her.

    Essentially, I feel that this movie depicts characters transforming from being masculine to feminine. The lower east side, or a developing environment, forces people to be masculine and independent so that obstacles do not lead to their demise. However, love and acceptance allows for these characters to let go of this masculine or tough facade and embrace a more feminine and sensitive persona. Victor becomes more feminine or emotional by realizing his love for his family and Judy. Judy becomes more feminine by learning to let people like Victor into her heart. Vicki becomes more feminine with the help of Carlos and learning to like him.

    The characters used to think that having a masculine persona helped them to survive the streets of the lower East side. However, by the end of the movie, the characters learn to embrace their more feminine traits to survive the streets of the lower East side. It is much easier to get through life with love, acceptance, and a sense of belonging. The characters begin to realize this by making themselves more vulnerable to others by trading in their masculine exterior for a more feminine one.

    • Loved your last paragraph! “The characters used to think that having a masculine persona helped them to survive the streets of the lower East side. However, by the end of the movie, the characters learn to embrace their more feminine traits to survive the streets of the lower East side”, mainly because you saw what I saw in a way, he (Victor) at first showed toughness and later softened up, even cried and then opened up to the girl he loved and cared about.

    • chloebx says:

      I agree, the lack of role models, aside from societal stereotypes, is the main reason why these characters, especially the boys, act the way they do. All that surrounds them are stereotypes and boys and guys who fall prey to them. They lack respect, morals and class. How can a child grow up to be a decent citizen when they are surrounded by negativity and people who lack class and education. This film shows the huge problem that has been plaguing urban communities for years. Having pre-marital sex at a young age and then having a baby, which then leads to a lack of education and working little jobs to get by, which then leaves either a bitter, depressed mother at home to raise the kids or the kids are left alone or sent to their grandparents who themselves cannot handle anymore responsibilities. This is merely an example of the vicious cycle people of urban communities go through from generations to generations.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      You bring up a good point as to how masculine traits don’t always have to be associated with males, and feminine traits solely to females. Also, how having feminine traits are not necessarily a bad thing. In contrast to quotes such as “you’re acting like a girl”, doing so for Victor was actually beneficial because it allowed him to have a closer relationship with his family and significant other.

  11. Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

    At last, a movie that finally gives me some insight into a young latina girls mind. I got to see how living in the barrio toughens not only men but women as well. Julie did not take any mess. She stood her ground and for her rights just like all women should. she did not fall prey to papi chulo’s conquests. I know this course is mainly about latino masculinity but it is also good to understand the latinas mind.

    I also hope this movie serves as an example of how boys really need their fathers, especially how if a young man does not have his father while living in the barrio, he willl have a strong tendency to gravitate to gangs. It is so obvious how victor needed a role model, a man he can look up to: a father!!! The void that was created by his father not being there was filled by his best friend and his attention to women

    • dipali1991 says:

      I agree with your comment! I agree that alot of people don’t realize that males also want to understand how a girl’s mind works, and sometimes this is hard for them! This movie definitely was a good movie for giving men insight on a young girl’s mind, and the way she thinks. I also agree with that fact that this movie showed the viewer that boys do need a father or a strong male role model to look up to. I think this is true because as we could see in the movie, Victor did not have a strong male role model to look up to, therefore he did not know how to properly act. Victor though that life was all about displaying himself as a “Papi Chulo” when in reality this isn’t the case. I feel that if he had a strong male role model to look up to , Victor would have realized what being a strong man was all about and would have acted differently.

    • Great point made! he had a void and unfortunately it was filled by “friends” sad! but true in the movie. Hid grandmother put her foot down and made him change for the better, I admired her actions.

    • chloebx says:

      Agreed, as I’ve stated a few times before, the lack of guidance and morals in these urban settings are and still is a huge problem. If you let a child learn about life though televisions and through their friends in the streets or at school, then you cannot be surprised a how they end up. Kindergarden kids these days watching Jersey Shore and the Bad Girls Club, and parents wonder why their kids are the way they are. Until they are grown, you cannot blame the kids but the parents themselves.

  12. Jacob Finlan says:

    I liked the view of Hispanic women that we got to see in this film; Judy Melonie, and Grandma are all different from our usual conceptions in different fictions that we’ve watched or read. They’re not passive, nor are they pushovers for what the men do/say. Judy’s perception of men is warranted, we see, as Victor first approaches her: he really only has one thing on his mind, and she makes this assumption before he even speaks. Melonie is cynical toward men, too, and Grandma is the ‘man of the house’, as she raises the children and completely supports them on her own.

    Victor is an interesting character – he’s practically a parody of the machismo concept. His mannerisms are exactly what most of us imagine when we try to picture a Latino man striving to prove his machismo; his swagger when he walks and running his hands through his hair when he speaks both are these very sexualized but masculine movements. The film perpetuates the machismo concept to an extent, but also turns the ‘typical Latina’ idea on it’s head. I think that films like this are valuable to watch amidst all of the other fictions we’ve read/watched, because it shows that not everyone has this idea in their head that ALL Latina women are passive.

    • misharo says:

      I agree, I like that fact that in contrast to everything that we have read or watched the female perspective is incorporated. You’re right that the women are not passive or pushovers but I like to focus on Melanie. She is passive to Judy but not really to men. As we watch more of the film we see that the cynical remarks Melanie does make towards men is only skewed because of her best friend, Judy’s opinion.

      It was not hard for Harold to get with Melanie. Harold does is sweet but he moves really fast its hard to truly understand his intentions. He is somewhat like Victor because he likes to get girls he just isn’t vulgar about it as is Victor.

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      I agree. I also like the portrayal of the latina women in this movie. I admire how Judy is always aware of her surroundings. Even when those group of guys were saying things that were sexually offensive, she was able to get herself out of that situation without compromising and she was able to refute those words that were bordering on assault.

      Movies that portray a strong latina women should be studied by both men who involve themselves in domestic violence and for the victims also. A woman like Judy is not likely to become pregnant at an early age. She will grow up to make sound decisions. This is a good role model for young girls who get easily tricked by young boys who are just after one thing

    • Katheryn Maldonado says:

      I think this a great point, I think the portrayal of Latinas is very positive. I think this movie emphasizes the fact that Hispanic women are strong and independent. I really loved the grandmother character because of her spunky and assertive personality. Being the head of the household, she held a great deal of power in her family and had very low tolerance for acting up. I was not surprised when she asserted herself by throwing Victor out of the house because many Hispanic women have that same attitude. I don’t the novels we have read, or the books we have seen have portrayed Latinas in a way that shows how powerful they really can be. I also agree that it was interesting to see some parts of the movie through a female perspective. I think it is interesting to see how Judy feels and her responses to the environment around her. Her approach on relationships is very different from many other female characters we have seen. She is not the typical passive woman, she is resistant and forceful.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      I really enjoy that you brought up such great point. I think this film was a breath of fresh air compared to the other novels that we have read in regards to masculinity. I loved how the film not only focused on Victor and his role as growing up in an urban are but, I also enjoyed how the women were depicted in this film. Like you said, Judy and the grandmother were both portrayed as very strong figures throughout the film and they did not live up to the typical stereotypes that have been placed among females.

  13. ElisePrairie says:

    I thought Raising Victor Vargas brought up some interesting new elements of the latino family and how masculinity prospers there. Unlike our other readings, there were no parents living with the character and his siblings. However a similarity was that the grandmother was heavily involved in the children’s lives and in other readings like the Rain God and Drown we see a high involvement of extended family members intertwining with the immediate family. It was also interesting that Vicki was only Victor’s half sister. Another similar point was that Victor’s father had ‘many children’ reinforcing what we’ve observed so far about latino males having multiple sexual partners. In our other readings it was common for the main male character to clash with his father. Victor however admired his picture and thought him to be a very handsome mad. This lack of relationship still accounts for the machismo in Victor and I think would be similar still if his father were still in his life.

    On a different note, as many people have mentioned already I found it refreshing to see more of the story from a woman’s perspective, seeing glimpses of Judy, Victoria, and Melonie. The way these three girls treated the boys in their lives was different from the reinforcing behaviors we saw from previous characters. Instead, they joked and resisted (mostly) their male counter parts showing them that macho masculinity was not going to win over their love immediately. As this story was one of the most current ones we’ve studied so far, I think the women’s role fits with the progression of time.

    The movie touched on points we’ve seen before in jaded light so it was refreshing to experience this story in a nicer light.

    • Bethany Sullivan says:

      I like the point you made about how Victor is one of the first characters we’ve seen who admires his father. I wonder how different he would be if his father weren’t absent from his life; maybe Victor’s macho behavior is an attempt to compensate for not having a male role model. At the same time, if Victor had a male role model to reinforce his ideas about what it means to be a man, maybe he never would have learned that he didn’t need to be manly all the time in order to get Judy’s attention–maybe he wouldn’t have been able to put aside his macho act and really be himself with her. I also like your point about how the other stories we’ve seen are cast in a more jaded light. I think you’re absolutely right, and that’s part of what’s so appealing about this film; it shows many of the same issues we’ve been looking at all semester, but in a much more innocent light.

    • chloebx says:

      I agree 100% with what you said about Victor being the same if his father were still around. In this case, Victor and his siblings were better off without their biological father around. However, they STILL needed a father figure in their lives, because their abuela is a woman and can only teach so much. Like when Nino asked Victor if he ever masturbated, you see right there the need for a father figure who is mature enough to explain to him basically the birds and the bees and the male body. One cannot expect that from an old, religious woman.

  14. misharo says:

    I was extremely excited that we were watching “Raising Victor Vargas” because it is a movie that I have seen before and fits in greatly with theme we have discussed in class.

    Something I find very important that the film did was provide antithesis characters to reinforce the the extremes that the movie tries to emphasize. There are tons of antithesis characters Melanie and Judy, Nino, Al, Harold and Victor; first we are introduced to Victor and his brother. Although they are both very tiny and initially you will get the same impression of them. Victor proves to be an “Alpha male” in his own right. While Nino is so innocent and pure. This is one of the most obvious antithesis connections to Victor, the one I’d like to focus on is the comparison to of Victor and his Judy’s brother. He is very different from Victor, he wears his emotions on his sleeve and is way more willing to tell Vickie he likes her. He presents himself as a weak male while Victor carries this hard facade but these two compliment each other in the plot of the film.

    What is interesting to me because Vickie (Victor’s sister) reminds me of what Judy was probably like when she was younger. I am not sure if anyone else made this kind of connection but I feel as though it was intentional that Victor fell for someone who is very similar to his little sister. Victor has to deal with his sister for the rest of his life and this relationship I believe helps Victor understand Judy and he doesn’t give up on her/them.

    • Rachel Korb says:

      I agree that perhaps Judy would have been like Vickie when she was younger. Judy ignores the attention of men and seems disinterested in their pursuit. However, she does eventually come to accept the fact that she has feelings for Victor. When Judy’s younger brother likes Vickie, she also seems disinterested but then eventually succumbs to her feelings. It seems to me like they are both too proud to admit their feelings, so they pretend they have no interest.

    • montanabeutler says:

      I totally agree that Vickie was very much hard headed in the same way Judy was. I think it is interesting that you say Victor understands Judy better because of his sister, as I also believe many men to pick up on female behavior from having interactions with their sisters/mothers at home. At the same time, Victor was probably over compromising for the fact his father was absent from the home by acting hyper-masculine to make up for his loss.

      • misharo says:

        You offer a great point of “Victor was probably over compromising for the fact his father was absent from the home by acting hyper-masculine to make up for his loss.” I did not think of this before and this offers a different and very interesting perspective!

    • chloebx says:

      I find it interesting how you connected Vicki and Judy. Yeah, maybe Victor did fall for Judy because of her defensive ways but then again, she, at first, may have been a difficult conquest that he could not leave alone. Peer pressure and his curiosity is what I think drove him to continuously pursue Judy. But I do see what you are saying, because of Victors relationship to his mouthy sister, it helped Victor in his “conquest” for Judy.

      • Katheryn Maldonado says:

        I think the way Victor was raised allotted him the ability to interact with Judy better than any other man that came her way. I think Victor was always surrounded by strong women like his grandmother and his little sister Vicki, and through his life he experienced ways to interact with them. I don’t think so much it was the outside pressures that drove him to keep pursuing Judy, I think Victor truly desired intimacy with another individual. I think he reached a point in his life where he really wanted to find someone that would accept and understand him in all aspects of his life.

    • Britaney Guzman says:

      You bring up an intersting point. Do you think that Judy and Vicky ignore the advances of the men because they’ve seen the women figures in their lives, such as their mothers and grandmothers get hurt? Or is it because they are tired of seeing the same machismo attitude from everyone? Or… do they actually like the men but are trying to ignore their feelings?

      • misharo says:

        I think it’s because of the machismo attitude. What would you say? Well more so for Judy because she explicitly says several times how men always try to hit on her and they are “cocky.” I would acclaim Vickie’s attitude to her brothers attitude exclusively, she seems to pure and innocent to attribute her mind state to any other machismo males around her.

  15. Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

    In this movie, we see that his dad and mom simply were not mentioned in the movie. It does leave room for interpretation as to why he had no parents, or why the grandmother, versus the grandfather was raising them. Because of the place where they were raised (the ghetto), there’s always room to fill in the blanks with unanswered questions. Was this why the director purposely chose to leave out the parents? Was this a strategy that mirrors how one improvises in the ghetto life? Could this be yet another reason why we all related to this movie even more. Im sure we all have unanswered questions in our lives.

    The second thought is comparing Victors search for his sense of self and masculinity to that of a newly born animal that must hunt and gather for its own survival. The same way certain animals abandon their young and the young must learn to survive on their own, is that what this movie is about?, making the most with how life dealt you your deck of cards and surviving?

    • Katie Lakotko says:

      I do think that the parents were intentionally left out of the equation in order to show a different approach to raising a child and more importantly reflect on family as a whole as it plays a very important role in the Latino culture as well as bringing attention to the mystery in everyones lives. Interesting idea!

      • I agree the parents were definitely left out intentionally. Everything that one sees in a film or doesn’t see in a film usually the director has a specific reason as to why. I believe the director did not explain or give out any clues as to why the parents are absent so that the audience can make their own interpretations and for one to focus on the grandmother’s relationship with the kids. Also the story could have been completely different if the kids were raised by a grandfather because then they would technically have a male figure from who to learn from. I’m glad that they made the grandmother such a strong women because many grandmothers that I know even with the grandfathers present are very independent. In the Latino culture grandmothers are very influential and have much say on what goes on in the family.

    • chloebx says:

      Well, based on how I was raised and what I saw on a daily basis, it was NOT uncommon for grandparents to raise their grandchildren. It was either because the parents/parent worked long hours to make ends meet or their children abandoned their own kids and drop them off to their grandmothers and went on with their selfish lives. Its sad an this film accurately portrayed the daily struggle of all the characters involved.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Like others have stated, I do believe that the parents were left out intentionally. The story of Victor represents that of many Latino children throughout the world because majority of the time these children are raised by their grandparent. For example, in the Dominican Republic a grandmother is viewed almost as a second mother, or in some cases the primary caregiver. This is because the biological parents often have to work or do not live with their children. In my opinion, there was no need to talk about the children’s biological parents because in my opinion a parent is one who looks after their children and is the primary caregiver (even if they means they did not conceive the child).

  16. dipali1991 says:

    The movie, “Raising Victor Vargas” was my favorite movie that we watched in class so far! It was very entertaining, and very funny. This movie’s humor kept me engaged and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! This movie brought up serious points but in a manner that would keep the audience entertained, but the issues were still brought out and not taken lightly.
    One point that the movie brought up, was the whole masculinity issue in Latino males. Latino males feel the need to be super masculine, and Victor, one of the main characters in the story felt the same way. He felt that he needed to show and prove to the world that he was a “papi chulo” when in reality this was not the case! He was scared to be himself around others, and was scared to open up around others as well. His goal in life was to get girls and seem “tough” to his friends and the boys in his neighborhood. He constantly gave his grandmother a hard time, and was rude to his siblings as well. Victor didn’t seem to understand that his life’s purpose was not all about being masculine, but he could also just be himself. I think that masculinity is a reoccurring topic that comes up our class and it was definitely seen in this movie as well.
    Another issue that this movie brought up was the importance of family. Victor and his siblings were raised by his grandma and she really held the family together. If it weren’t for her, who knows where the family would be! She stuck by her grandchildren through thick and thin, and really wanted them to be happy as a family and do well in their lives. It was clear that he family didn’t have much but Victor’s grandma always made it work no matter what. Her grandkid’s were her only family, and she was their only family and they got through struggles together!
    This movie was a must see in my eyes. It was so interesting and allowed the audience to see how life as a Dominican in that time period. It allowed the audience to see the struggles of a teen growing up and the pressures one faces as well in that type of environment.

    • chloebx says:

      I agree, I’ve seen this film when it first came out and when I saw it was on the list of presentation topics, I immediately jumped at the chance. It really sucks in everyone who watches it, especially people of similar ages and/or background like myself. And about family, I agree fully. the grandmother did what she could for her grandkids. The only way she can scare them was showing them some much needed and deserved tough love. Their arent many abuelas like her anymore, grandmothers with morals and old fashioned values. Nowadays you have YOUNG grandparents who still have a life to live and forget or dont offer that old fashioned guidance.

  17. Rachel Korb says:

    Raising Victor Vargas appeals to college students because it approaches the generic coming of age story with a comedic twist. We watch as Victor is criticized for hooking up with a larger woman, his brother learns how to masturbate, and his sister comes to terms with her interest in boys as their traditional grandmother frowns with disapproval. Victor embodies a more modern approach to relationships but his grandmother does not know how to stop it. This is something that many of us have experienced, so it is interesting to watch someone else go through the same things. Another reason this movie appealed to the class is because it showed events from different perspectives.

    We generally do not see courtship from the male perspective. In many movies popular in our culture we sympathize with the girl as she struggles to keep men at bay. It was interesting to see both sides of the courtship process: in their first encounter, Judy becomes annoyed by Victors attempted woo and Victor feels that Judy was too harsh. He continues to try and impress her until eventually he appeals to her. In many movies we would only see Judy and her feelings regarding their relationship. This movie perfectly supplemented our other course materials not only because it was entertaining for the class, but also because it allows us to see a new type of Latino struggle. In many of the books we have read, the focus is on the main character’s relationship with their father, their drug abuse, and their gay experiences. In this case, we see a more mild form of Latino struggle, as Victor tries to balance family and his sexual relationships. As we see when their family goes to see Social Services, Victor never actually does anything illegal, like other men we have studied, rather, he is just struggling in his coming of age story.

    • Bethany Sullivan says:

      I like how you pointed out that movies usually don’t show the guy’s perspective on dating. I’d never really thought about it, but now that I am I realize that it’s true. In a lot of ways, it must be kind of hard to be the guy in a dating situation. Not only are you expected to be the one who pursues a girl, in spite of repeated rejection, but usually you also have to pay for dates and you have to find some kind of balance between your actual emotional involvement in the relationship and the amount of emotions and vulnerability you actually express, since men are expected to be less emotional. As this film effectively showed, there are a lot of things a guy has to balance when he’s trying to start a relationship.

      • Rachel Korb says:

        I did not realize it either until watching this movie. In our culture, I feel like women are often submissive in dating which makes their lives so difficult because they have to wait for men to buy them a drink, wait for men to call them, wait for men to propose, etc. The part that we do not see in our culture is that the dating world is (probably) difficult for men too. They need to work up the courage to do all of these things, they need to weigh the benefits and the risks of making moves. If men do not behave as women want them too, they also face extreme criticism. I wish that more movies would make this obvious. Perhaps our culture would change these traditions or women could not be so harsh on men when waiting for a phone call after a date. The men could be nervous or eliberating on the other end.

      • montanabeutler says:

        It is really difficult to be a guy in today’s society. There is so much pressure to be the pursuer, the provider, the protector. I find it strange sometimes in today’s society that women are still the submissive actors in dating. I think it would really help sometimes if women were confident enough to pursue a man, or maybe if men were comfortable enough with being pursued. There is something to be said for tradition, and I don’t think its bad to do things traditionally. But on the flip-side, it needs to be equally ok to do things alternatively.

  18. Bethany Sullivan says:

    I really like this film, especially lined up with the other works we’ve looked at, because it addresses many of the same themes and subjects but has a more hopeful and uplifting ending. Victor is struggling with what it really means to be a man, and initially he believes that it means being tough and hiding his insecurities and pretending to be someone that he’s not. He always tries to act like a papi chulo, and he tells Judy that he’s been with lots of women and “you ain’t never been with a man ‘til you’ve been with me”. In reality, it seems that he’s only ever been with Fat Donna, and he won’t admit to that because he fears that people won’t think he’s cool if they know he slept with her; people laugh at her because she’s fat. So in order to preserve his reputation, Victor pretends he’s never slept with her and also hides many other aspects of his life.

    The change happens when Victor’s grandmother tries to kick him out of the house. Victor seems to realize that he’s had his priorities all wrong and that there are more important things than looking cool and being perceived as strong and tough. When Judy comes over to dinner at Victor’s house, his family embarrasses him in front of her. His grandmother confronts him about having had Judy over to the house before, and she airs the whole family’s dirty laundry in front of Judy. When Judy leaves, Victor goes after her. He explains that he wanted her to see his crazy grandma, his bitchy sister and his little brother, and he wanted her to see him kicking around the house in his normal, beat-up old clothes because that’s who he really is. This is the moment in the movie where it becomes clear that Victor has actually learned something and grown up a little bit; he stops worrying about appearances and lets his true self show, and in return Judy also lets down her guard and shows who she really is.

    • amyhahm says:

      I really enjoyed out both Judy and Victor let down their guards to show each other who they really are. I liked the theme around this film of the coming of age. It really shows how one puts up their guard to fit into the stereotype of masculinity, in Victor’s case, and how Judy wants to push away from that in order to protect herself.

  19. I really enjoyed the film, especially because we were given a more uplifting scenario. Previous works that we have read tell a coming of age story where the main character endures hardships that not every audience may be able to relate to. “Raising Victor Vargas” incorporated the comedic factor so that most people would be able to relate even if they were never in that particular situation.
    Victor’s perception of masculinity changes as he finds himself and becomes more in tune with who he is. He start’s off as a papi chulo where he thinks that his skinny stature is pure man, which completely turns Juicy Judy off. I think that it is interesting that Victor is able to reshape his masculinity during the time he is perusing Judy, a time when most men would try to assert their dominance and masculinity more than ever. Here, Victor goes from thinking that he is a papi chulo to a more soft natured, patient guy. When we first meet Victor he had his guard up, was extremely defensive about his reputation, and didn’t have the greatest relationship with his family. Come the end of the movie, his pursuit for Judy brought out a kindness in him where he wanted Judy to come over and see him in his natural environment and he had actually improved on the relationships in the house.

    • arussell11 says:

      I think that the transformation from a player to a more mellowed out individual speaks a lot to the growth of Victor as well. This definitely stood out to me and showed the main character’s ability to go against the grain. This story was different and uplifting because it ended with the character’s innocence and determination to be himself.

  20. Katie Lakotko says:

    Raising VIctor Vargas was my favorite story so far. I loved the fact that it took place in the lower east side just as Pinero did. This similarity, I feel, reveals to the audience a different perspective of the same place. The simple fact that in one it focused on the adult years and in the other the adolescent stage, showcased a huge difference in the environment. In this way, I think the title of ‘Raising Victor Vargas’ also plays a huge role in the interpretations when looking at a comparison of the two films. It was interesting that Pinero was more drug-centered seeing as how that film was of the later years. In ‘Raising Victor Vargas’ Victor had his grandmother as his guardian whereas Pinero didn’t have anyone looking out for him. Her influence on Victor is significant because she definitely tried to keep in out of trouble. On the other hand, Pinero succumbed to the more so junkie lifestyle.

    In Raising Victor Vargas, one part that stood out to me in terms of his influences and the effects his grandmother had on his life was when she said to him that she was all he had. This was supposed to convince him to be a better person and to stay out of trouble when instead it caused him to reply with the same retort. He said that they were all she had and so she should be wary of how she acts, implying she should not push them away as much. This sense of family, however in my opinion did contribute a lot to the differences in the two films and more importantly outcomes of both Pinero’s and Victor’s lives. Pinero was not surrounded as heavily by family and positive influences like Victor was. Analytically I would relate the comparison of these two films to the nature versus nurture controversy, thus supporting the nurture theory. Although the two characters lived in the same location facing the same stereotypical scenarios, I feel as though their surroundings had a greater impact on both of their lives.

    • arussell11 says:

      I agree that this was a great spin on the types of masculinity that we have seen thus far. I think that the title is interesting as well. After seeing the story play out, it was clear that sexuality was an important aspect of coming of age. We see this correlation in Freak as well.

    • chloebx says:

      I never really thought about that connection. But now that I think about it, Pinero, though in that same area, was different in the sense that during the 60s, 70s and 80s times were VERY different. It was actually much more dangerous during those times than in the late 90s and 00s. Victor is very lucky to have been born during his time, because if not, he probably would have been involved in gangs and/or taking drugs just to get through their crappy lives.

    • Rachel Korb says:

      I think it is somewhat ironic that this movie is called “Raising Victor Vargas” because we really do not see Victor being raised. It seems that he is the one raising his siblings, rather than him being raised. He encourages his sister to become involved in a romantic relationship, stands up to his grandmother, and teaches his brother how to please himself. I wonder why they chose to give the movie this name when Victor himself is seemingly the one that is raising his siblings in a sense.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      I completely enjoyed this film. I think it was nice to see a Latino male in a different atmosphere, one which does not completely revolve around drugs and violence. Like you stated in your post, I think the grandmother had a significant affect over the upbringing of Victor. Even though she considered him to be a “bad boy” because he liked girls she knew he was not a criminal. I think having someone who is very stern with their family truly did affect their upbringing, and in my opinion it affected it in a good way.

    • As you mentioned, it was very interesting seeing how both of these stories took place in the same place. The stories are clearly different yet share some important factors. For example, one can say that both characters were struggling with masculinity and identity. Victor was trying to be the papi chulo chasing girls thinking he knew it all, but inside he had a soft side that he didn’t want anyone to see until he met Judy. While Pinero, was trying to identify what being a Nuyorican meant to him and how it was a culture of its own separating it from his Puerto Rican heritage.

  21. arussell11 says:

    One thing about this movie that definitely jumped out to me was the portrayal of the “lower east side teenager.” I found it fascinating that in many cases in the books that we have read throughout the semester, the location of Latinos was integral to the person that they became and the character that they portrayed. The characters really embody the environment in which they grew up. In this way, we can compare this portrayal to that of Pinero. Pinero was not only proud of where he came from, he explicitly categorizes himself as a member of that community. This was most evident at the end of the movie when Pinero dies and asks to be scattered on the lower east side. He wanted no burial or homegoing, he wanted to stay where his plight was.

    Other than that comparison, this movie works well with the novels that we have read in this class. In this way, we able able to actually see the ways in which Latino masculinity affects a growing man, not just reflecting back on the experience. The other characters in the movie closely relate to other Latinos that we have seen. In this case, Victor’s younger brother, Nino, closely relates to Piri’s younger brother because he idolizes him so much. This can also correlate with the relationship that is present in Freak. The sexuality that is present here is evident and deliberate. The movie also shows the importance of your reputation and the quest to uphold the standards that in this case, Victor feels to be of importance.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      I totally agree with you, where you grow up has a lot to do with how you will turn out and what roles your upbringing will have on your life. Despite popular believe growing up in a barrio doesn’t necessarily mean that you will forever remain in the barrio surrounded by poverty and short comings. Although that may occur often, some people chose to rise above it. Instead of letting the things they have seen and known their whole lives become who they are there are some who use it as an example of who or how they dont want to be. And personally that is much more valuable.

  22. I really enjoyed the movie it was really a good watch it was funny and very enjoyable. I really like the fact that the movie took place in lower east side and that the movie was very relatable because the way the actors were in the movie. The revolving theme this semester is coming of age and being a Latino in the United States. This movie was a great representation of that. the situations that victor found himself in was things that typical teenagers goes through when they are trying to find themselves in relations to the opposite sex. The way that victor define is manliness was how much girls he was able to get with and if he was able to obtain the forbidden girl from their block. Everything about their manhood is represented by their ability to have sex with women and how many women do they have sexual encounters with .That is why the scence when his little brother asked Victor if he had ever masturbated he denied it because that wasn’t a masculine thing or the idea that why would you need to do that if you can get girls.

    I feel that the grandmother is a great character to analyze because the way she was greatly affected victor and his siblings. The grandmother was a strong woman who at her age held her family down and had the strength to raise three young children on her own. What I found interesting was how she wanted preserve the innocence of the younger brother , she treated him as if he was a baby , she bathed him and took care of all his needs. She felt that he was different, something pure, and virginal. That is why she blamed victor when she found out that he was masturbating, she could not accept that he was growing up into a man.

  23. Katheryn Maldonado says:

    Raising Victor Vargas was an entertaining coming of age movie that told the story of a young Dominican boy living in the Lower East side. Victor is similar to the many characters we have seen throughout the semester, but unique in a sense of how he grows throughout the movie. Victor struggles with life and ideas such as his masculinity, like many other characters we’ve encountered this semester. In the beginning of the movie Victor thinks maintaining his macho reputation ensures him his masculinity. He denies every being with fat Donna or masturbating because it will make him less of a man. He plays a rebellious role in his family by doing his own thing, and not really listening to his grandmother. Being a dominating figure in his household makes him feel extremely masculine. I feel like every character reaches a point of realization, and Victor reached that point when his mother tried to kick him out.

    I think Victor shows a different type of masculinity after his self-revelation. I think he embodies a masculinity that is soft and caring. He no longer tries to be tough and he shows that he cares about his family and his relationship. I think his signs of maturity show true masculinity. I don’t think many of the characters we have seen this semester came to this point of self-awareness. I think this is a very positive movie in a sense that it shows a good side of a young Latino growing up in poverty.

    • Katie Lakotko says:

      I agree with your statement regarding the similarities and repetitive nature in the common themes we’ve seen thus far emphasized in this movie, but especially liked how you especially acknowledged his specific growth. I think his growth was vital in the understanding of this film because it showed a different perspective to the stereotypical one-sided view. It recognized and showcases the change and dynamics behind the life of a more typical situation. This was my favorite part! I really enjoyed the overall different take this movie had on the Latino lifestyle. The masculinity portrayed by Victor in this movie as compared to the readings and other sources, was a lot more interesting. It reminded me of the “Hombres Y Machos” reading that described the qualities that don’t strictly embody the typical male but are more of a hybrid of female and male characteristics.

  24. amyhahm says:

    Raising Victor Vargas was such an awesome movie. Not only was it entertaining and funny, but also educational and informative. I really enjoyed how this movie was so relatable and told many stories of these teenagers and kids. I think it was really interesting how confidence was such a key factor in this film and how it played out differently throughout each character.
    This movie has also touched upon topics of class discussion. We thoroughly talked about Latino masculinity and what it means to be a man in Latino culture. We discussed the many stereotypes of how others perceive Latino men to be and what kind of image they hold in our society. Victor Vargas was a perfect example of what we have determined some stereotypes of Latino males to be. We depicted the stereotypical Latino male as a overly masculine, sexual, ‘macho’ person, and the way that Victor Vargas behaved in the film was a perfect representation of that. I also thought it was interesting how Victor’s character develops. At first he is shown as the stereotypical Latino model, where he is overly “macho” about to have sex with one girl, while trying to seduce another. But as his character develops, the viewers realize that this overtly masculine personality he puts out is only a façade. Throughout this film he becomes more open to real emotions instead of the bully, papi culo exterior. He becomes more submissive and willing to change. He really develops confidence in himself as the film goes on and I thought it was an interesting change from the person he started out as. It really makes one wonder about the pressures a young boy like Victor has to go through to prove these masculine traits and the façade he puts up to demonstrate that he is indeed a man.

  25. Julissa Antigua says:

    Thinking back on this movie I have several question that I’d like to bring up for discussion. Fist considering both Judy’s and Victor’s upbringing, In the movie it appears that they were both raised by women. Besides the fact that Victor is a male and Judy a female how do you guys think it affected each of their characters? Same goes for Victors sister and Judy’s brother, Vicky and Carlos.

    • montanabeutler says:

      I think that if affected each of the four characters you bring up differently to be raised by women. In both Judy and Vicky’s cases, I think they became rebels to the hegemonic system of female submission. They learned from strong female models, and considered themselves above the regular need for a man in their lives. In Victor’s case, I think not having a male figure made him overcompensate with his masculine actions, and clearly put up a front of being a man’s man. In Carlos’s case, I think he went the opposite way from Victor, and instead of overcompensating in his male acts, he understood the feminine side of things more, as shown by his emotional display for Victor’s sister.

      • Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

        I think Victor and Judy have different experiences being raised by women. Judy clearly learns to be protective and cautious of guys but Victor lacks the influence of a positive male role model/father figure/older brother so he tries to be Mr. Independent all the time. I think Vicky struggles to take care of herself because even though she has the grandmother to care for the kids, she seems to concern herself with the youngest brother and disregards Vicky’s need for a woman to talk to or ask for guidance/help. Judy’s younger brother seems clingy and looking for attention and again I think that the boys in this film have a difficult time because they are raised by women and do not have older influences to teach them about the transition to manhood. Victor’s younger brother is clearly looking to him for help and answers to his questions but Victor doesn’t know how to respond in any other way besides flipping out and ignoring him. While the film does a good job showing strong females running their households, the absence of men and parents for Victor, Judy, and Nino obviously impact their upbringing.

  26. Unlike the many books and films that we have touched upon this semester this movies to me is one of the best so far . The reason why is because it displays the other side of masculinity ” The ladies man” . Its interesting to explore the idea that a lot of what we believe to what is consider to be masculine or feminine is base on individual experiences that influence our views on how we should act. Like a facade.

    • misharo says:

      I agree, this by far has been the best movie. I like that it shows the “Ladies Man” but also that there is no strong connotation of drugs and alcohol. Absolutely what we see as masculine and feminine is based on individual experiences and upbringing as well. I would say though that personal experience doesn’t always influence “how we should act.” It may but this is in terms of each different accepted item in different societies.

  27. Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

    I truly enjoyed every minute of the movie Raising Victor Vargas. Compared to the readings that we had done this movie was very positive and comical. I had seen the movie some years ago and honestly it was just another movie. After watching the movie in this class and having discussed the themes that we did i have a whole new perception. Victor portrays himself as such a papi chulo as do many of the young Dominican men who live in New York City. The way they act as if they can get with any girl they want.
    Compared to the other readings i was relieved to see that although Victor had no father figure in his life he did not turn to the streets and drugs as a way of comfort and self belonging. In many instances he was always trying to reassure his manliness by sleeping with girls even with Donna. I believe that his interest in Judy was not only because she was an attractive young lady but also because if he was able to accomplish making her his girlfriend that would establish his manlihood not only to himself but to everyone that surrounded him including his family and his friends that congratulated him for doing so.

    I very much enjoyed the portrayal of the female characters in the movie. In the readings that we have done the women are portrayed as weak individuals who are dependent on the male models in their lives. In this movie the grandmother was a very stong character, she played both the mom and dad roles and provided for her grandchildren by giving them a home, making them food and even bathing the youngest grandson. In a way i can see simmilarities in the grandmother and the Mami from Drown. Although the Mami in Drown is more passive she still held her ground and provided for her sons by herself as the grandmother did in the film. Judy was also a strong female character in the novel, she was very aggresive and forceful which was something we did not see in the other readings.
    This film differs from the other readings that we have done in that Victor does not resort to acts of homosexuality to prove his manlihood. In Piri Thomas he engages in homosexual acts to assure that he is a man because he is the one getting these sexual favors done to not the other way around. In this film though we didnt see that, i found it to be interesting.

    • I agree with your comment that its refreshing that woman were being portrayed as strong and independent especially Victors Grandmother . The fact that she raised three children and she was older its really impressive .

    • Stanley Demosthene says:

      Looking at gender roles in the way you did is interesting. Without real parents to look after Victor and his siblings, Victors Grandmother was everything to the family. She was a mother, a father, and a companion altogether. I found it unique too, how the Grandmother had to channel different roles in raising three completely different children. When it came to all three of them, she had to switch into a disciplinarian role, like locking the phone for example. When it came to Victors little brother and sister, she used a more nurturing role and care more about what they did than what Victor was up to. Victors Grandmother was a core anchor in the family, as she brought them together numerous times to scold them, yet love them. Without a distinct mother and father, this Grandmother was the next best thing three siblings can have.

  28. I just thought about something that i feel is an interesting observation towards the movie , In the terms of gender representations and the gender roles played. In today’s society, everyone takes on gender roles, the roles that we are assign give people a sense of stability and structure. The question is what happens when these structures are twisted. Throughout history, society has influenced the meaning of traditional family arrangement and at times, these family arrangements were rather unequal. Society conditioned many people to view that it is natural that the men work outside the home “Bringing home the bacon”, while women stay home cooking, doing the laundry, and taking care of the children. However, in recent years, we have seen a change, women are stepping up the social ladder, they are more independent, they hold more positions in the workforce, and have gained more respect throughout society. America followed and still today follows strong patriarchal traditions. which means that men are held a higher position in and outside the home . Men have always been viewed to be strong independent and controlling figures while the women have always been portrayed to be submissive completely domesticated by their husbands however time has changed and women have become apart of the public sphere. And through the female characters in the movie you see this revolutionary figure of the independent more engaged female in today’s society. I don’t know i think its refreshing to see media celebrating women’s autonomy and portraying these female characters in positive ways.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      I agree with your statement. I think the grandmother embodies all that you have previously described in your post. Like you, I think it is really refreshing to see a strong female role, in particular when it is that of an older person. I say this because in many peoples opinion they believe the older a person gets the more dependent they become on others and this film portrays the opposite. It’s nice to see how Victor’s grandmother takes charge of her household even though she knows that she can’t physically keep her grandchildren from growing up. I also enjoyed the way Judy was portrayed because she didn’t come off as a teenager girl eager to be in a relationship.

    • Stanley Demosthene says:

      Looking at gender roles in the way you did is interesting. Without real parents to look after Victor and his siblings, Victors Grandmother was everything to the family. She was a mother, a father, and a companion altogether.

  29. Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

    I believe its refreshing to see such a strong female model being portrayed in this film such as the grandmother. As someone had stated it is not umcommon to see children get raised by their grandparents but in this case its a single grandmother with three grandchildren in the lower east side of New York City. It would have been different if perhaps the location would have been different or the number of children that she has but this woman did it all herself. She was the mom, the dad, the grandfather and the grandmother. For her to be able to raise those three children and in the streets of New York she definitely deserves recognition for that. To raise children is hard enough as it is but to do it in a setting such as the city of new york where life is really hard especially for the minorities that inhabit more than 75% (estimation) of the population. Life in new york is hard in terms of living, drugs and violence etc. For her to have managed to still care for her grandkids i believe it shows a lot. Not only was her character in the film portrayed to be of a strong women who is not easily pursuaded but she is also a strong woman that knows the streets and in a sense its dynamics because she was able to raise those children on her own.

    • Ally Green says:

      I definitely agree that Victor’s grandmother embodies a strong female character in the film, which is refreshing given the roles women have played in many of the texts covered in class. Your description of her strength, largely attributed to her role as the head of the household, reminded me of the contextual research I did for the cultural conditions surrounding the plot in Sirena Selena. In researching, I found that in Latino culture, specifically, across Puerto Ricans/Dominicans, there is an increased incidence of grandparents raising their grandchildren. I thought it was interesting, though subtle, that this theme reappeared across the materials we covered in relation to portraying masculinity.

    • Stanley Demosthene says:

      I agree as well. Using a strong female who was strong in a different way than Victors grandmother was essential to the growth and development of Victor from the opening credits to the end credits. Judy was a major influence in Victors life too, because I feel as though she showed Victor that REALLY being a man just means being true to who you are and where you came from.

  30. Ally Green says:

    What I most appreciate about the film as a whole is the use of the women, primarily Judy, though arguably Vicky to an extent, to poke holes in the “facade” of traditional Latino masculinity that Victor so desperately sought to convey. Victor’s persona throughout the majority of the film serves as a means to communicate many of the stereotypical, chauvinistic, homophobic, and aggressive characteristics often associated with popular conceptions of Latino masculinity in the context of American society. At the same time, the utilization of Judy’s character works to reveal the shallow nature of these attitudes. Perhaps most interesting, at least for me, was that Victor’s eventual abandonment of this tough-guy persona, and consequently these stereotypes, wasn’t solely or simply the result of his genuine feelings for Judy, that is, he didn’t simply flip a switch because “he fell in love.” Rather, Judy’s overt contradiction of traditionally conceived notions of femininity overtly challenges Victor’s attitudes about his own gender expectations whilst communicating the fragility of Victor’s seemingly macho character to the audience.
    Judy’s character is fiercely independent. Her virtual imperviousness to peer pressure and the apparent inescapable desire to “have a man,” as well as her outspoken and blunt nature, makes her a sort of irrevocable force within the film. Judy’s personification of a dominant female character in and of itself seems to undermine the assuredness that Victor tries to convey with his behavior and commentary. On the same token, it seemed, at least to me, that the development of Victor’s relationship with Judy is symbolic not only of the power of love and the fragility of shallow gender stereotypes, but also the value of positive characteristics/qualities, such as those used to describe Judy above, regardless of gender.

  31. Britaney Guzman says:

    What I loved most about “Raising Victor Vargas” was that it was so real. From a cinematic point of view, I feel like the way the movie was shot was intentionally, with not always the best lighting and the camera not being perfectly still. With this, at least for me, it made me feel like I was actually there with the characters witnessing the fights between the siblings, or seeing the relationship between Victor and Judy develop. Victor went from being superficial about his tactics to attracting women, to focusing only on Judy and telling her he wants her to see him, for what he is. I really liked the line where he talked about his “beat up chancletas” because it reminded me of the realness of the movie. Victor really could be an example of a teenage boy growing up in the Lower East Side.

    I also found the relationship between Victor and his grandmother very interesting, mostly because it reminded me of my family. My grandmother acted very similarly to Victor’s, and the relationship between my brother and grandmother’s is a close reflection of Victor and his grandmother. This leads me to think that this may be a common theme between Hispanic families, sometimes having overprotective, crazy and stubborn parenting styles, but all the while doing so because they love and want to protect their children. Victor’s grandmother may have seemed crazy at some points during the movie such as when she locked the phone or freaked out over the lipstick on the cup, but she did so because she wanted to look out for the best for her grandchildren, seeing as they are all they had left in the world to each other.

    • Brimar Guerrero says:

      Britaney, I completely agree with your statement. In my opinion, it was really nice to see a different aspect of Latinos masculinity. Like you, I can completely relate to this film because it seemed so realistic, it’s like I was watching my childhood play its self out right in front of me.

      I loved the character of the grandmother because she truly does embody the typical Spanish-Speaking grandparent. Like you said, even though see was really hard on Victor there is no doubt in my mind that she truly loves him because for some odd reason Latina grandmothers always like to give tough love.

  32. Brimar Guerrero says:

    I really enjoyed the film Raising Victor Vargas. The movie was really funny and I could really relate to a lot of the themes presented in the works because I grew up in a similar environment. In my opinion, there is never a dull moment growing up in a Spanish-speaking household. There is always something going on, whether family members are “bonchincando (gossiping), talking loudly over each other (which always seems like there’s an argument but in reality we’re just having a conversation), or the fact that parental figures always think they are right.

    I think the film touches upon a lot of themes that we have touched upon since it deals with a Latino family living in an urban setting. The main character, Victor, embodies the typical stereotypes of young Latino men really well. In the Latino community males always feel the need to show off in front of their friends in order to “prove” that they can date/sleep with the best looking girl. This somehow always gets them more respect around the community they reside in. A great example of this during the film is when Victor is at the pool and he spots Judy, the girl that everyone seems to have a crush on, and he is contemplating on whether to go talk to her. The film also shows the importance of family in the Dominican community. The grandmother is very strict when it comes to the upbringing of her grandchildren, especially the younger one Nino. I believe the grandmother plays a very important role throughout the works because a great portion of the time Latino children are raised by their grandparents. In providing a strong female character, the film depicts how parental figures always want to protect their children from any harm, especially if it deals with growing up too fast. I also found it very interesting how Victor was almost like a father figure to his siblings. For example, younger brother asked him for advice in regards to girls and when he was about to get kicked out his brother and sister did not want him to leave.

    Overall, I truly do believe this film was a good representation of a Dominican household.

    • Ally Green says:

      I particularly appreciate that you mentioned Victor’s role as a father figure to his siblings, especially his brother. This aspect of the film, I think, highlights the importance of communicating and instilling traditional gender norms generationally. Though Victor isn’t of a different “generation” his place as a role model still seems to convey the importance of perseverating traditional attitudes/ideas even in the absence of an authentically traditional masculine influence.

  33. Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

    I think this film was one of the best ones we watched because although it was not as intense as Pinero or including as many controversial topics as some of the text, it brings up a lot of issues that are portrayed as funny but have a serious message behind them. I think because the film used humor, most of us were able to critique it in a few different ways. Clearly the point is to represent young Latino/as growing up and their experiences but almost all of us said we could relate which is why it was enjoyable to watch. The absence of parents, the generational gap between the grandmother and grandchildren, the fiesty attitudes among both genders, etc., made it a lot different because it was not stricly focused on the negative aspects of Latino family life, which is something we covered a lot. It was nice to see that although the families in the film seemed to have their issues, there was no evidence of drug use, violence, cheating in marriages, or children living on the streets trying to survive on their own. Even though Victor acts really tough like he has to be an independent man, he still has a house to go home to, family members that appreciate him, and underneath his huge ego and masculine personality, he’s just a teenage boy who has a huge crush on Judy. It was refreshing to see that there are some positive aspects about Latino/as and their lifestyles in the film.

    • Stanley Demosthene says:

      I think you bring up a good point in that though Raising Victor Vargas wasnt as intense or graphic as Pinero, it brought up a lot of similar issues in regards to Latino men. It was a nice turn to go from Pinero, into Victor Vargas, because as you said, the film used more humor as a basis of conveying a message to the audience.

  34. Ally Green says:

    I agree that the film was a refreshing break from some of the more negative aspects of Latino identity highlighted in other course materials. Victor’s shallow exterior conveyed the invalidity of many negative Latino stereotypes associated with masculinity. Additionally, I found Judy’s character to be particularly refreshing since she meets virtually none of the criteria for the stereotypically feminine Latina. In fact, Judy really seemed to embody personal strength and independence, which I thought was a great alternative to the passive, domesticated version of a Latina woman portrayed in many of the texts we have covered thus far.
    I posted earlier about Judy’s role in decomposing Victor’s seemingly hard exterior. While this is certainly true, I think her character has a larger impact on the audience’s perception of Latina woman. Additionally, I think that Judy’s character conveys the image of a highly acculturated Latina woman, that is, she has successfully combined her Latina and American identities within herself. The most obvious example of this seems to reside in Judy’s personality and attitude given that her value system and actions seemingly contradict traditional gender norms

  35. I really enjoyed this film. It was a story about a young boy’s struggles in the lower east side yet the subject was still light because it was also a comedy. I feel like the director took this direction because he wanted the audience to make a comment about the society in a way which they could not do without humor. This way issues can be addressed and challenge viewers perceptions of a situation or the world in general.

  36. Stanley Demosthene says:

    I have never seen nor heard of this movie ‘Raising Victor Vargas’, and quite honestly it was a very good movie in my opinion. It was intriguing to me to be able to see sort of a “machismo in training” in Victor. He placed an extreme amount of emphasis on his sexuality and ability to “score” with other females. Even when that female was Fat Donna, Victor was ready to prove his manliness by sleeping with her, which to many machismos is the most coveted prize one can obtain. Victor played a role as the typical “suave” hombre, walking around the city constantly without a shirt and flirting with any female he deems “worthy of Victor”. He even attempts to instill his ways of life onto his little brother who looks up to him a great deal by telling him that when you speak to a girl she isnt looking into your eyes, but your lips. He reinforced that it was gravely important to constantly lick your lips seductively while approaching and speaking to a female.

    It was nice to see a transformation in Victor thought, brought about by Judy, who is very calculated when she is dealing with men because of daily, countless advances from men who are pigs and dogs. It was no different for Victor who’s advances at first was repeatedly stifled by Judy. Throughout the film it was nice to see Victor realize that the girl he ACTUALLY wanted, was the girl he just needed to be real with. Judy was the girl who saw past all of the pickup moves and pickup lines. She forced Victor to drop all of the shenanigans and reveal himself to her as he truly was by inviting her to the family dinner one night.

  37. SPRING 2013 POSTS & COMMENTS

    • Desiree W. says:

      I must say that “Raising Victor Vargas” and “Down These Mean Streets,” are my favorite so far in this class. I right away connected to Victor’s story because like him I am also being raised in a single family home as the oldest child. I also saw a great connection between Victor and Piri’s stories besides the fact that they are living in a New York setting and are the oldest children of large Latin American families; their struggle is very much alike. They are both trying to define themselves in a society that isn’t the most supportive for their growth and development and because of this they are very street smart. Victor unlike Piri has only a grandmother to raise him and his two siblings that is often referred to “my mother and father,” leaving us to wonder what happened to them.
      Something interesting about this plot, although Victor is trying to define himself as a man, the question is by who’s definition is he defining himself by? Piri longed to be accepted by his father; Victor on the other hand wants his grandmother to realize that he’s not as bad as she thinks. In fact the last scene we see she tells him “I’m all you got,” and he replies “No WE are all You got,” which is true. The difference between all the other materials we have read so far with the roles women have, we see images of strong women who can be independent and take care of themselves (Grandma, and Judy) but we also see a great deal of hurt and bitterness towards men. (Judy- I don’t need anyone to take care of me and grandma- you are gunna turn Nino just like him, her husband cheated/left her). Victor also expresses a softer side and the player (macho man) is put to rest when he tells Judy that he brought her over to his house to “see the real me.”

      • sorlyz says:

        I like your comparison between Victor and Piri, Desi. They do share similarities but how does Victor know how a man should act if he, unlike Piri, does not have a father figure to look up to and ask questions? In my opinion, I think Victor’s friends are his main source of what takes to be a man. As far as we know, Victor’s grandmother has raised the kids and when Nino looks for man advice from his older brother. By the way his grandmother reacts, it is safe to say that she is not the source of their “manly intelligence”.

      • I also thought the comparison between Victor and Piri was interesting. Sorlyz, I think the street also are the teachers for both of these boys. It seem to be true that when adolescents don`t have a mentor or a role model to look up to then they start depending on outside sources. I think in Victor`s case because his parents aren`t around and the only person around is his grandmother who shelters him and doesn`t really seem to be exposing him to the real world, Victor is forced to learn about women and masculinity from the streets.

      • Ernie Abreu says:

        I like how you mentioned the last scene, in how the tables are turned from the grandmother being the dominant figure in the household, to the kids having that power. All this time, the grandmother tried hard to raise them a certain way, and when she sees that Victor is corrupting his siblings, she decides to get rid of the problem, Victor. She fails to understand that they are no longer kids, and they will grow to be whoever they chose to. When Victors tell her, “No, we are all you got”, it really made her realize that her life does revolve around her grandchildren. Not having them as a “family” will only hinder the family. Family is a very important topic in this film, which is a main theme in Latino families.

      • John Wilkinson says:

        I think your understanding of the construction of Victor’s masculinity is perfectly accurate. In a single-parent home with his grandmother as the parent, Victor has to find a male role model from somewhere. It clearly isn’t at home as his grandmother provides a motherly influence but is also distanced by a larger age gap. Instead, Victor learns from the people in the street around him and from pop culture how to act like a man, particularly in his attempts with women. Similarly, his younger brother is also in need of a male role model and, having no one else, looks to Victor. I think it stands out that the entire class often laughed throughout the movie whenever Victor attempted to perform a hyper-masculinity. To him is seemed as if that was how he was supposed to act, but the class could see the ridiculousness of his attempts.

  38. So far I am really enjoying the film ‘Raising Victor Vargas’. I think that many of the themes present are applicable to not only the materials we are covering in class but to everyday lives. As an adolescent Victor is coming of age and is having difficulty finding an identity within his community. He uses girls to sleep with as an indicator of status amongst his neighborhood. I wasn’t surprised that a man so young and impressionable as Victor would stop talking to girl who was deemed ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ even though he enjoyed spending time with her. We can see a relation of this adolescent action to the book “Down these Mean Streets” when Piri was influenced by his friends in order to fit in. This ultimately let him down a path of destruction and drug addicted behavior.

    I also found it very interesting to think about the different gender roles that are portrayed in this movie. Typically the females are deemed as weak or inferior to the male characters. However this was not the case when it came to ‘Raising Victor Vargas’. When you look at the grandmother, she is strong, tough, and head of the household. Raising three grandchildren on her own has her taking on multiple gender roles including mother, father, and grandmother. She uses different techniques to raise each of them. When it comes to Victors little brother and sister she is more nurturing but when it comes to Victor she is hard and tough. It was interesting to see a different scenario when it comes to gender roles in this movie.

    • Joseph C. Sokola says:

      I would agree that there is certainly a similarity between Piri in “Down These Mean Streets” and Victor Vargas, as he is influenced by his friends and what they think about him. At the beginning of the movie, he is spending time with “Fat Donna” and is embarrassed by the fact that people are finding out about it. When he friends ask him about it, he denies having any sort of relationship with her, and says bad things about her.

      It is certainly interesting that the gender roles in this movie are not stereotypical because Victor’s Grandmother, who is strongly influenced by her religion, is strong and is unwilling to deal with Victor and his activities. As the only adult in the household, she is the only person who can act as both parents and the grandmother. The fact that she is a woman may be a part of the reason why Victor shows little to no respect for her, which also could be part of the reason why she is tougher on him than she is on Victor’s siblings.

    • Desiree W. says:

      I almost missed that connection between the book and movie, Piri’s father was hard on him too and so is Victor’s grandmother. Not sure as to way the oldest child seems to be reprimanded the most but, my only logical guess would be that they are the oldest and are expected to “know better.” This is something that I still go through with my mom and I constantly have to say “when I was her age…” expectations are naturally high because in a sense you are supposed to be the role model for the younger kids and what they see you do they will follow.

      • I think that Victor`s grandmother and Piri`s father has a lot in common. They both are present but both still very much absent in their children’s life. Victor`s grandmother I think is absent because she is still stuck in her old ways. There is a lack of communication between her and her grand children mainly because I think she sees Victor becoming like her husband.
        Joseph,
        I think that she is harder on Victor because he reminds her of his husband. Victor`s sister is just as disrespectful yet she isn`t as hard on her. I think the grandmother fears Victor becoming a man that is hyper sexual and instead of explaining this to him, she just reacts and yells at him.

    • Audrey Allyn says:

      I agree with you. I feel as though the thought of Victor losing his reputation and creating an unwanted status with his peers was something that all adolescences do growing up. Fitting in is part of what everyone needs to go through and what we continue to go through throughout out lives. I loved how this movie portrayed the women as strong and independent. The fact that they knew how to be by themselves and new that they could travel through life without men by their side represented a very powerful struggle women go through.

  39. John Wilkinson says:

    Juan Gonzalez’s Harvest of Empire reveals the continuation of two political trends of the United States in the twentieth century: absolute support of opposition to Communist and all left-associated governments, and the victimization of the new immigrant group. During a decade experiencing the high tensions of the Cold War, the United States backed the dictatorial regime of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Opposing Bosch and his supporters because of leftist and, more specifically, Communist leniencies, the United States chose to give power to a regime that would politically represses and exacerbate economic poverty among its citizens. The United States routinely acted in absolute opposition to Communism and all associated political movements and leanings. Similar events had and have happened in Chile and Nicaragua and were major contributors to the development of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. For the Dominicans that immigrated to the United States, the prejudice that has greeted so many others awaited. Some Latino communities, such as a few Puerto Rican areas, began to transfer the prejudice to the Dominicans that Whites had placed on them. The Dominicans were blamed for stealing jobs and trafficking drugs, similar sentiments placed on the Irish, the Italians, the Puerto Ricans, and the Mexicans among other immigrant groups. If anything, the United States is nothing but consistent.

    One of the most successful aspects of Harvest of Empire is the blending of styles within the work. Typically, accounts of immigrants and cultural histories are either very generalized or very individualized without any greater context. Each method has its problems, mainly impersonally and reduction to numbers and statistics for general representation, and too specific and narrow to understand the whole for individualized representation. What is refreshing about Gonzalez’s work is that it is a seamless blend of the two styles. Beginning with general accounts, he paints the background first and then explores individualized narratives within this context, giving intimate and personal accounts to allow the reader to feel the experience rather than read the numbers. By placing the individual narratives within the greater context, they are given more power and efficacy.

    • emilyvanburen2013 says:

      John, your account of Juan Gonzalez’s writing style is exactly what I would say, but wouldn’t be able to phrase so well. In your second paragraph you talk about how refreshing Gonzalez’s work is because it is a seamless blend of two different styles of writing and I completely agree. I was so interested in this article that after I finished reading it, I Googled a ton of information about this period of time in the DR. The fact that Gonzalez used statistics gave the reader a clear and factual understanding of what type of war occurred between the 1960’s and 1990’s. And the personal testimony of the Luciano family made the reading more personal so the reader could remember that the people who survived this time period weren’t statistics, but human beings like you and I. It’s true Gonzalez was able to give these individual narratives more power and efficacy!

  40. Joseph C. Sokola says:

    In “Raising Victor Vargas,” the everyday life, coming of age, and struggles of growing up are displayed for a young man growing up on the Lower East Side. His confidence and overall cockiness are shown as he tries to impress a young girl named Julie. Unlike the previous movies and stories that we have read in this class, the movies focuses not only on the views of the young man, but it also focuses on Julie and her best friend, and their views on relationships in general. The movie documents the start of their relationships, which eventually alter their views on relationships throughout the movie.

    It seems that, at the beginning of the movie, Victor is measuring his masculinity by being a smooth talker with the ladies, and showing many of the negative aspects of machismo. Throughout the movie, it seems as though he is maturing as he begins to spend time with Julie. At the same time, Julie seems to be maturing in a way as well, as she changes her mind and stops thinking of Victor as just a boy that she can use to keep other men from trying to hit on her.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I thought watching all the different relationships begin, including Victor and Judy’s, was interesting. I think they were good representations of what adolescent relationships are like. For example, younger adolescents have an innocent friendship, like Victor’s sister and Carlos. Older adolescent relationships might move very fast like Melonie and Harold did. In the case of Victor and Judy, I felt that Victor right off the bat really wanted to be with Judy because of her looks. Judy on the other had grew to like Victor, and at first it seemed like she couldn’t stand him.

      • Romy Garcia says:

        I like what you said here about the young ladies in the movie. Yes unlike the other readings and movies we have watched in this class this one finally points at something that mentions the young ladies perspective. Judy and her best friend Meloni not only affect each other but also the young men that they are surrounded by. Judy’s strong views on men (guys) rubs off on Meloni and she is even “standoff-ish” towards the guy that tries to pursue her but after the finally “hook-up” she realizes that he was not as bad as Judy made every guy to be/ We see the same thing happen with Judy after spending some time with Victor she finds that she can actually trust a guy. In this film we saw how Judy’s stubbornness helped mold the relationship she had with Victor.

    • I didn’t think about how both Julie and Victor subsequently change as their relationship grows. I find it interesting how one relationship can entirely change the maturity of a person. For them they are both so young growing up with the insecurities to be ‘cool’ or to not get hassled by boys. And while their friends, who hold the same belief, are a large influence, one person can come and unravel existing beliefs. For both Julie and Victor they change each other for the better and begin to leave these insecurities behind.

    • Audrey Allyn says:

      I liked the fact that you brought up how both Victor and Julie grow and mature throughout the movie. They start out as tough and feel as though they need to act a certain way to be perceived the way they feel they deserve. As the movie continues and we see relationships start to develop and people letting their guards down, it actually shows that these people are good strong people, but are also vulnerable. I enjoyed seeing the transition from both characters to show themselves as who they really are and being able to accept that and the fact that they found trust in each other.

  41. Brittany Demers says:

    Being an adolescent can be a very confusing time in life. When you’re an adolescent you want to do “cool” stuff and things that will make you popular. For example, I think that Victor might have wanted to be with Fat Donna just to be able to tell his friends that he’s had sex, or maybe it was to act on his teenage impulses. Another example was when Victor wanted to date Judy because many people thought she was good looking (hence the name juicy Judy). He also bragged to his friends after she said that they could be together. I also think that Victor displayed typical masculine traits when he first met Judy. He was very cocky when he went up to her, and she just brushed him off. I found it interesting to watch their relationship grow and they seem to have become very fond of each other.
    I feel bad for Victor because his grandma thinks he is a bad influence on his brother and sister. When Victor’s brother asks him for advice about girls, Victor does not offer any besides telling him that it’s instinct. Even know the siblings fight a lot, I think that you could really tell how much they mean to each other when grandma tried to kick Victor out. I think that grandma is very strict because she wants to protect her children but I don’t think that she can offer them advice on certain adolescent issues. I feel that grandma had a very different experience as an adolescent being raised in DR and this causes some of the frustration she has with her kids. I also think that growing up in different time periods can cause great conflict between parents and children. Each generation has challenges and obstacles that they have to grow up with, and they differ from the generation before them.

    • I really liked the scene where they were all out the court house and when Victor’s brother and sister both vouched for him and let him know that they truly did care for him. This was amazing to me, because his sister actually put her hand on his shoulder to comfort her, despite Victor’s constant teasing.
      The era was definitely a difficult aspect for the family to navigate, and the hyperreligiosity definitely played a part in Mami refusing to conform to the modern societal norms and ideals that her nietitos.

    • John Wilkinson says:

      Your description of Victor’s perspective of women at the beginning of the movie is perfect. I think that Victor at the beginning, and most of the other male characters throughout the novel, view women as commodities that are emblematic of status. Victor’s relationship with “Fat Donna” was likely for sex (though the picture on the desk may imply a deeper relation), and when he is found with her, her physical appearance serves as a poor commodity and status reducer. By contrast, Victor’s early attempts to date Judy are the attempt to have her as a commodity to boost his reputation through her attractiveness. This commodification of women is what gives Victor’s later sincerity in his relationship with Judy more effect.

  42. emilyvanburen2013 says:

    The article “Dominicans from the Duarte to the GWB” by Juan Gonzalez was one of the more interesting articles we have read thus far from Harvest of Empire. Before reading this article I had very little knowledge of the political unrest that occurred for Dominican culture between the 1960’s and the 1990’s. The Luciano family endured very difficult times and after reading about the life of Anna Maria’s daughter Estela I was in awe of her courage and the fact that she was able to leave her country to come to the U.S. to join her mother. “In less than a year, Estela had lived through a fierce revolution, three months in a dank prison cell, dislocation to a strange new country, the shock of becoming a teenage factory worker and a blackout in a New York City subway tunnel” (Gonzalez.)

    The men and women who lived in the Dominican between the years of unrest and those who fought tooth and nail to leave were brave individuals. I put my self in the shoes of Anna Maria and thought about how difficult and trying her life must have been when she left her husband and children to travel to New York City to work in a coat factory to make enough money to support her family at home. When her husband died she didn’t even have enough money to travel home to attend the funeral. I think about the experiences these men and women had to go through to survive and I understand how lucky I am to live in a time and place where I don’t have to experience such horrible things. Reading this article helped me understand that political unrest could occur in any country at any time and that one day I too could have to endure everything these men and women did to stay alive. This understanding helps me be thankful for everyday I have.

  43. I thought Victor was really disillusioned by his masculinity and what all of his friends from his el barrio expected of him. He was really full of himself and thought he was the best, until he met Judy. Thank God for Judy because she was the one that finally brought him down from the clouds and showed him how ridiculous his views of the world really were.
    I did find it unfair how Mami treated Victor, I don’t think he intentionally tried to corrupt his brother and sister, I think it had more to do with their geography than anything.
    Also, I did not appreciate all of the “fat” girl comments. Carlos was exceptionally overweight, but the worst thing anyone said about him was “He’s half your age!” I thought it was very sexist and sizeist, and it didn’t agree with me.

    Humanely correct analyses aside, I was entertained and I thought the cinematography was excellent. I just don’t like the part of myself that laughed at the horrendously offensive language and imagery present throughout.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I agree that Mami treated Victor unfairly. I think that his brother and sister may have been using her as a role model, maybe because they didn’t have any one else to look up to? I also think that Mami was very traditional and expected her children to behave a certain way. That being said, the children also probably wanted to fit in or be cool in the neighborhood that they live in. As I mentioned in my post, the time period that children grow up in is often much different than their parents. This can cause major conflict between them.

    • Romy Garcia says:

      I would agree with Christopher here where he said that Mami treated Victor unfairly. I don’t think Victor consciously misguided his younger siblings. The three siblings only had each other and Mami so they had to rely on each other for support and such. A perfect example of Mami misjudging Victor is when she caught the younger brother in the bathroom masturbating she quickly said you see this is your brother influences and was ready to get rid of Victor. However we saw Victor clearly tell his younger brother “no, man not that”.

  44. Amber Jones says:

    I watched Raising Victor Vargas years ago and I am still entertained by it now, years later. Since this is not my first time watching the film I caught a couple of essential points that I did not notice before. For example I definitely did not notice the impact of the females in the film as much before. Many who watch the film may only see Victor as the only one to focus on but the females play as much as a vital role as Victor. One female character that I would like to focus on is “Juicy Judy”, I found it interesting how she had preconceived notions of men when she was never in a relationship. It was almost as if she walked around with the idea of ” all men are the same” attitude. I wondered where she got this hate for men from? I understand the men in her neighborhood were rude and objectified her, but can this necessarily play such a huge role in deeming every man the same way?

    I also thought it was essential to look at Melonie and Judy’s relationship. Judy was the girl that guys went after and Melonie for the most part was not. I remember Melonie complaining that no attention was paid towards her. I wondered why she felt it was essential for men to pay attention to her, if she saw and heard the rude things that men said to Judy. It makes me think that some females are actually OK with being objectified than not having any attention paid to them at all.

    Overall the women in the movie possessed the power to dictate how the movie went. For example, since “Ma” got fed up with Victor’s actions she decided to kick him out of the house. This was the turning point of the film, it was because of this that Victor decided to make a change and show his true colors. Judy was the guiding factor that lowered Victors big ego, she made him look more deeply at himself than just his physical and so called smooth talk. It is important that we talk about the roles of the females as well as the men in the film because they create a dynamic together.

    • I also thought that Melonie and Judy’s differing approaches to men were very interesting. Melonie didn’t waste too much time before she got serious with Harold, and Judy took almost the entire movie before she even would kiss Victor. I wonder if it was because Melonie didn’t have guys pining over her like Judy did, and so wanted to feel what intense attention from a man felt like.
      Also, Melonie was only about 16 and she was already smoking. I don’t know what this suggests, but I wish she hadn’t started so early.

      • Imaani Cain says:

        I feel like part of Melonie’s attraction to Harold comes from her previously being unpopular with guys, although she does seem to honestly like him. She mentions early on to Judy that “at least guys notice you” in a bitter tone, which probably means that she has grown up in her friend’s shadow. This also seems to be Melonie’s first romance, so it makes sense that she seems to intensely drawn to him. Also, I took Melonie’s smoking (which occurs after she and Harold have sex, and after she starts wearing her hair down) to mean that she is embracing a newer part of herself. That she is, in a way, “growing up” and beginning to become her own person.

      • Lauren Carabetta says:

        I agree with both of you. I think Melonie liked that for once she was the girl who got the attention. I think she craved the attention to confirm her own femininity. She wanted to be wanted and as soon as she was shown interest she jumped in. She changed how she looked and acted because a guy was paying attention to her. I felt bad that she changed herself so much to look like what she thought guys wanted her to look like. I also thought it was sad when she told Judy she knew she wouldn’t be happy for her. Melonie wanted to be accepted by her friend and by guys.

  45. Imaani Cain says:

    What Victor does in the advent of the movie seems to be nothing but male posturing, likely a response to the lack of male figures in his life. Victor clearly recognizes himself as the “man” of the household (as does his grandmother), and therefore spends most of time swaggering around the house and the streets, trying to assert his masculinity to the people in his life. Judy, of course, serves to decrease his bravado by showing him that all of it is unnecessary and serves only to drive people away, not urge them closer. Ultimately, I feel as if Victor’s tough front is only that–a front. He shows himself throughout the movie to be very sweet and tender, and does not hold grudges (for example, he is the one who brings the family closer together, even after his grandmother tries to throw him out of the house for being a bad influence).

    • Romy Garcia says:

      I would agree what you have stated here, as I commented on another blog Judy’s personality really brings about some change and maturity to Victor. Maturity that later helps that family become closer as we see in the end of the movie. Now you made me think of another point; the reason why Mami is so hard on Victor could be because he reminds her so much of her husband who was a player and “bad influence” as she repeatedly called Victor. What Victor knows about his grandfather could essentially be what he know about masculinity. This could also be why we see him playing such a macho/papi chulo role in the beginning of the film.

  46. sorlyz says:

    The Trujillo discussion was interesting because we talked about the dictatorship and the “bloodiest era”. I was completely surprised at the pictures of Trujillo. The dictator sounded so fierce and ruthless that the sight of his made up face and hair were shocking. He looked “dolled up” and in my mind I created a strong, furrow-browed man that looked stern and mean. In reality, Trujillo’s picture was that of a pretty man with, what looked like, make-up. Additionally, the conversation continued to Trujillo’s traits and whether or not they are considered masculine traits. As discussed, I agree that Trujillo is much more hyper-masculine as opposed to just masculine. It seems that the tough, aggressive, and macho traits were amplified in Trujillo. As a dictator, Trujillo took his power above and beyond when he began torturing people. It is interesting that this man was only one man but controlled so much.

    My answer to one of the questions from the presentation, “Why do you think that people from other countries identify with their nationality and not their race until the have reached the United States?” Honestly, the reason people identify with their race when they arrive to the US is because we are categorized into races once we arrive. Unfortunately we are all lumped in to categories even when we do not relate to the category. As Jorge said, a person from Jamaica and a person from Ghana will come to the US and be lumped into the African American race. It’s terrible to do but that’s how the United States wants to categorize the physical features of people.

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I think part of the reason why the categories don’t work is because they were created by the majority population which did not consider the differences in nationalities. I learned this in a different class. I think that people should be able to identify themselves in whatever way they want. Nationality is a part of identity and to dismiss the uniqueness of a person would be wrong. I don’t understand why we have to organize everything so much.

      • emilyvanburen2013 says:

        Lauren I was going to say the same thing about the majority population (Caucasian Americans) not considering the differences in nationalities of those who immigrated to America and how this trend is the direct cause of so many people being grouped into three or four basic “categories” of races. In addition I feel the same way about being appalled at those who attempt to crush uniqueness in individuals. Unfortunately a lot of America’s history has revolved around segregating the in group from the out group, or “them” from “us.” From the beginning of America’s history when many European countries immigrated to America to separate themselves from political empires they didn’t want to be a part of to the separation of the north and south during the civil war to today where many Anglo-Saxon individuals consider themselves “better” than those who immigrated to America more recently, our culture is dominated by the theme of separation. Hopefully our country’s culture can change and we can get to a place where we can recognize and appreciate our individual backgrounds.

    • In response to a great point you mention about why individuals are lumped together has a lot to do with comfort as well. Not only do we categorize others but we also tend to categorize ourselves. People have gotten in the habit of saying “I`m Black” or “I`m White” instead of “I`m Jamaican” or “I`m Italian”. However I do see a change in this at least on campus. More individuals are becoming in touch with who they are and where they come from and in result we are starting to be exposed to more then just the norm, Black and White.
      Another reason people tend to do this is because they were never educated about where they are from. I`m an example of this. I identify solely as Black/ African American because I`m unsure of where I come from.

  47. Lauren Carabetta says:

    Something that I thought was very interesting after our discussion in class today was the difference between Victor’s behavior and the behavior of other guys on the street. Victor talked about getting girls who are attractive but he wasn’t as graphic when he hit on women as other guys in the film were. Victor bragged that Judy was his girl, but you didn’t hear him mentioning sex or telling his friends anything like that. You did hear the other guys who Judy walked by saying graphic and offensive things to Judy that were very sexual. I think the guys who were saying those things were connecting sexual activities to masculinity. They thought they were more manly if they told a girl how great they were in bed. Victor tried to come onto Judy with lines, but when he saw they didn’t work he changed his approach. He didn’t harass her he talked to her as a person and showed her his real side.

    Victor’s vulnerability to Judy is interesting because stereotypes of masculinity say that a man should not show vulnerability. Victor wanted Judy to see him for who he was and that is why he invited her to dinner. Judy then returned the gesture by opening up to Victor and becoming vulnerable to him. I thought this was a nice change because it showed Victor and Judy’s relationship in a positive light. Victor didn’t pressure her to have sex after the dinner scene when stereotypes say that other men would have.

    • Nelson Veras says:

      I definitely agree with you. Victor first approached Judy in an aggressive manner that resulted in rejection. He thought that being cocky and sarcastic was going to work but in reality it didn’t work for anyone including the men who approached her in the street. Once he realized he had to switch up his way of talking to her he succeeded. She began to open up to him because she realized he wasn’t like the other men.

    • Romy Garcia says:

      When Victor reintroduces himself to Judy I wouldn’t say it was a vulnerable move instead more like a masculine “I will get what ever it is that I want” move. We see Victor go out of his way to see who the kid was that she kissed at the pool was. Because it turned out that Carlos the kid she kissed by the pool was her brother he found how to get his foot in the door and reintroduce himself to Judy. Also although Victor wasn’t as explicit as the other guys were when they approached Judy on the street, Victor still referred to Judy as “Juicy Judy” which would be offensive to most girls.

      • sorlyz says:

        Romy, I agree that Victor wasn’t showing his vulnerability when he reintroduced himself to Judy but it is safe to say that he showed his vulnerability when he invited her over to dinner. He was trying to show her that under the “macho facade” there is an actual caring young man, and that he actually is starting to fall for her for who she is not for “street credit”. When he called her Juicy Judy, of course it is insulting but it is also a name that everyone knows her as. I guess it is just a name that unfortunately stuck.

  48. Nelson Veras says:

    This movie was very interesting because I feel like it portrayed Latino masculinity well. Victor Vargas started off the movie being cocky and aggressive. The one time his masculinity was being challenged was when he was being accused of having sex with the big girl. He was quick to deny it and change the subject because he knew he will be judged upon it. I felt like calling Judy his girlfriend in the beginning helped him feel like he redeemed his reputation which is why he consistently tried going after her. Other men on the street harassed Judy while she walked by and she ignored them. Victor was a victim of hers at first but he realized being respectful would actually catch her attention. That is when Victor his a 180.

    Victor became much more respectful and grew up as a person after meeting Judy. At first she was very timid and thought all men were the same, hence why she told Victor she had a boyfriend. While he was trying to get physical with her she wasn’t denying him. That made him a more patient person as well as humble.Because he was so emotionally invested in her he did things to surprise her. Judy making him wait for kisses while Melonie is having sex helps Victor figure out what he wants for himself. He starts to become more of a man and leaving behind his old ways. .

  49. Romy Garcia says:

    In the film Raising Victor Vargas we see many different things going on at once, funny enough growing up in an urban community this story isn’t much different from that of some of my neighbors and friends growing up. Victor started off as the trouble-making older brother who just wanted to “get with” Judy, “the prettiest girl in the neighborhood” after being known for having sex with the “fat and ugly” girl, Donna. Something that found really interesting in this film was the strong-minded individual that Judy played. It is rarely the case where a woman (young lady) is portrayed with the mentality she had. Although we never actually find out why she thought she didn’t need a man in her life and that she could take care of herself, but we do see that she is constantly harassed by the guys in her neighborhood as she walks down the street and we do not see a father figure involved during her “home” scenes. From this we make many assumptions as to her reason for not wanting to get close to men.

    I would consider this story of Victor Vargas as a coming of age for him; we see many things that Victor deals with such as the need to feel accepted by his buddies from the neighborhood- we see this when he stops seeing Donna because she is seen as ugly and fat and gets made fun off even by his sister. Another problem Victor deals with his coming of age is dealing with his siblings and grandma (mami) Victor feels like he’s a man and needs his own space but is forced to make better decisions and remain sharing a bedroom with his younger brother and sister. An interesting factor in Victor’s maturity is interesting enough, Judy. Judy is not the typical girl; their relationship actually started by Judy using Victor as a “boyfriend” but before she knew it she got close to him and this helped Victor realize that she will not stand for child-like foolishness and since he really liked her it made him quickly clean up his act. In the end of the movie although it is brief and no actually talking is done, we see that his relationship with Judy affects his relationship with his family at home in a positive way.

    • Kaydo says:

      In reference to the first half of your post, Judy is definitely a different type of Latina that is portrayed in the media. I personally grew up around a lot of powerful Latinas and it was always my assumption that most Latin women were like this. Independent, guarded, but very loving when those emotional walls are depleted for someone who has earned that position in their life.
      A lot of men either fear the idea of being with a psychologically and emotionally strong woman, but most of the males I grew up with, and a few women, love the idea of having a woman as strong or make up for where they are weak.

  50. Skylar Smith says:

    The film, Raising Victor Vargas, showed many forms of masculinities and was easily relatable through the way the director made the movie. From the beginning, the audience sees Victor as just another suave, “Latin Lover” character but as the movie progresses, the audience gets to see the transformation he makes. The problem with a lot of films that portray the stereotypical attributes with Latinos, is that these films play on those same stereotypes throughout the entire film. The difference with Victor, that makes him very identifiable with, is that he changes and evolves out of those stereotypes that are associated with him in the beginning. Victor is only one of the people in the film who shows many forms of masculinity and transformation.

    Throughout the film he constantly was thinking about what others thought about him. He hid his “relationship” with fat Donna from everyone because he thought it would ruin his street rep and walked up to Judy acting like Mr. suave who could pick up any girl with the tone of his voice. When he realizes how unique and strong of a person Judy is, he begins to transform and show his true side. He finally shows Judy who he really is by inviting her over for dinner. At this moment he lets his pride of his masculinity go and he opens up for Judy. By letting Judy in to his life and vice versa, we can see how much difference it made. His grandma finally lets him unlock the phone at the end and everyone seemed to have calmed down when they were in the room together, seeing that no one said a word. He let his pride go for the woman he wanted to be with and to the audience, it was quite the transformation.

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      I agree with your statement, “he let his pride go for the woman he wanted to be with and to the audience, it was quite the transformation.” He moved away from being a “player” and settling down with Judy. However, its also safe to assume that his pride was regained and increased because of Judy. Judy is the toughest and prettiest girl in the neighborhood. Being in a relationship with her can only reassure his machismo. He has the hottest girl in town, which boosts his self confidence. I believe that he transformed for his grandmother’s sake as well.

    • sorlyz says:

      Skylar, I like how you made the point of talking about how Victor is a person to think of his actions and what they could do to his reputation. When it was brought up in class, it seemed like everyone agreed that Victor, unlike Piri, was much more aware of his choices and thought about his actions. Victor made conscious efforts to make the right decisions. In one instance, Victor decides to change his approach in getting Judy. Another example is how much effort Victor puts in to making sure no one hears about him and “Fat Donna”. The thorough thoughts made him much more decisive on his next move (although throwing the phone was probably not a good idea).

  51. Ernie Abreu says:

    Raising Victor Vargas has to be the most realistic portrayal of masculinity in a young latino man’s life. For one, it depicts how machismo is displayed in young boys since a very early age. It also shows how machismo can easily be discredited because of an act that is not macho enough and how it can be regained from dating the “hottie” in the neighborhood. Lastly, it shows how family can effect machismo.

    Victor showed machismo since the beginning of the film. He was a very confident and arrogant, young man that believed that all women in his neighborhood are fallen victims to his charming self. At the beginning of the movie, his “game” or in other words, his ways of getting women in bed was being questioned because he made a move on a girl that was not on everyone’s standards. He explained to his friends that he has gotten many good looking girls in the past, trying to protect his reputation. This leads off to show how machismo can easily be discredited. Because he sexual altercation with a girl that was viewed as ugly and fat by everyone in the neighborhood, his reputation was at stake. He had to show that he is macho enough to get any girl he wants and in order to regain his “machoness” he had to get the “hardest girl to get in the sheets” Judy. Only then can he brag about his machismo again.

    How young boys are being raised and by who plays an important role in machismo. As you can see, Victor’s younger brother, Nino, was not the ideal definition of being masculine. He was a church boy, who never went outside and barely knew about girls and how to get them. This is due to his relationship with his grandmother. In fact, his grandmother hated Victor, and almost evicted him from the house, because Nino was learning how to be like Victor. To relate this to “Down These Mean Streets”, both Victor’s and Nino’s life might have been different if they had a father like Piri. They wouldn’t have the grandmother that is trying to purify their lives by going to church and avoiding them to learn about sexual topics. And both of them would have learned how to survive on their own.

    • Kaydo says:

      When watching the film, I wonder what caused Victor’s younger brother to go against the norm of being a masculine man. His innocence and level of maturity that opposes peer pressure blatantly combat the antics of his older brother.
      Seeing their grandmothers behavior towards all three of the siblings truly shows the differences in parenting she must portray to each. It must be hard to adapt to three different children’s learning ability.

    • Nelson Veras says:

      I agree with you that this movie portrays masculinity in a Latino man. Latino men usually approach girls in the manner that Victor did. Men try to be aggressors and feel that they can get any girl they wish. This leads to rejection, as seen in the movie with Victor. Latino women like to be respected, such as Judy, which is why Victor had to switch the way approached her. Sometimes men have to swallow their pride and make sacrifices to get what they want. This might effect a mans masculinity because no man likes no sacrifice his pride.

  52. I really enjoyed watching this movie. There was definitely a freshness and realness to this cast that really resonated with me. I felt like I have met or know guys with similiar mannerisms and behavior to that of Victor. Being a Dominican-American man or New York Latino male I feel comes with a pressures of being tough, player, prideful, and hypersexual. You had Victor who believed himself to be a “lady’s man” until he “lost streak.” Once he got his girl he was expected to live upto the stereotype of being tough so that he can protect Melonie. He also showed pride in his culture when he made the comment about how being a lady’s man is in his “sangre.” This shows pride in his language and father “inherited” expectations of masculinity. Victor’s brother however was seen as being in the other end of the spectrum. He was spiritual, responsible, but he was still viewed as having prominent sexual urges. It could be a manly coming of age or “corruption” by his brother according to their grandma.

    Conversely, in Brittany’s and my presentation of H.o.E I thought it was really mindblowing to see that women were the ones immigrating first and taking on such a “masculine” role when it came to supporting thier families abroad. Like I mentioned before, in my “Dominican expirience” my father and my mom’s brother were the first to emigrate. Another thing that I always found particularly interesting is how Trujillo ruled the country. It was perceived as the bloodiest era, because of ruthless dictatorship. D.R. had to summit to his rules to the point where they no longer ran away, but awaited their demise because of fear. As flamboyent and genius as he was he is still viewed as Hitler for many Dominicans. From the uneducated to the aristocrats everyone knows about how he used his hypermasculinity to subjugate, exploit, and torture everyone who went against him.

    • sorlyz says:

      Regarding the first half of your post, I agree with the “realness” of the movie and its way of captivating the audience. I looked into the cast and noticed that Victor and Nino are obviously brothers in real life, but their names weren’t changed for the movie. Most of the cast had the same first names of their characters, which I am sure isn’t a coincidence. My point is, this probably helped the actors feel like they are these characters. Additionally, the way the movie ended allows us as viewers to assume anything about the future of these characters, which makes them relatable to us individually. I can make Victor Vargas fit into my ideas of what should happen in his life, and you can make him relate to your ideas.

      • Kaydo says:

        Agreeing with both of you, and to put a little male feel into this, a lot of movies look as though it was casted with actors/actresses and a story line is rather apparent. This movie felt almost like a fluid documentary that was so easy to relate to that Victor and his family could have been a next door neighbor.
        The contrast between each sibling however, I’m sure is possible, but I rarely saw that. Latino families have their differences, but I have seen too many times that a younger brother and an older brother are closer than in most families of other cultures. It is as if an older brother was going through a rite of passage to manhood, it is his duty to ensure his younger brother, his legacy follows. It is easily seen that Victor tries to corrupt Nino, but he failed at that task…but his manhood is not questioned for it.

  53. RAising VIctor Vargas was an interesting film. Starting with its title you would expect it to be about parents, or at least one parent, raising him but instead both of his parents are absent and instead he is being raised by his grandmother. The main theme throughout the film seem to be social pressures. Victor is constantly pressured by society, whether it is by his grandmother to be the man of the house or by his friends to be a player. t home Victor is constantly pressured by his grandmother to be the man of the house and set a good example for his brother and sister. Anything that goes wrong with his sister or brother she blames him for. SHe blames him for setting a bad example for his brother by being a womanizer and trying to score with as many beautiful women as he can. This culminates in her finding his brother masturbating and she flips out on victor claiming that he taught him it. She also blames victor for introducing his little sister to men, since he introduced her to Judy’s little brother. Outside of the home victor is pressured by all of his friends in the neighborhood to be a player and hook up with beautiful women and is chastised by them when he’s caught with fat donna. He immediately denies and aims to make Judy his next conquest in order to restore his reputation as a womanizer. These two sources of pressure come to a head and explode when Victors mother tries to kick him out and he decides to be a good grandson and brother, while also trying to improve himself in order to make up to Judy since he actually grew to like her instead of just trying to have sex with her.

    • I also thought the movie would be more about the tittle initially. However, after I thought about it the movie is all about the title. Victor Vargas is being raised by different people and his experiences throughout the movie. He learns from his grandmother, his friends and his mistakes. He tries things out and deals with the consequences when they come. He is determining what kind of man he may be. I thought that was most interesting. Although there isn`t a mother or father figure in the movie, Victor`s growth is still shown and is a clear depiction of him being raised in a non-traditional way.

  54. sorlyz says:

    I enjoyed the film Raising Victor Vargas. It was an average depiction of a teenage boy trying to live his life. There were a few things that reminded me of Piri Thomas. The two boys have something to prove as they grow up. Piri was more interested in showing that he was a man by showing he has heart. Although sleeping with women, was also a way to prove his manhood, Piri wasn’t the type to go and brag. On the other hand, Victor was trying to prove his manhood by having sexual relations with women. He wanted to be known as a “ladies man”. Additionally, although we do not see actual violence, Victor seems to have respect around his neighborhood, just as Piri in his neighborhood.

    I also found it interesting when Victor’s knowledge of masculinity was presented. Although Victor was being raised by his grandmother, he did not have a father figure to admire and ask questions to. I believe that Victor gained his knowledge from his peers. I am almost certain that Victor would have asked a friend for advice about “what it takes to be a man” and his grandmother would be the last person he would ever ask. When Nino asks Victor for help, he explains that “no girl wants to kiss chapped lips”. In my opinion, I believe advice like that are “young thoughts” and ideas that I don’t know if an adult would think of giving that type of advice.

    Aside from these observations, I do want to state that I did not particularly like the way the movie ended. It left us with unanswered questions… the raising part of Victor’s life wasn’t completed. Did Victor’s sister end up with Judy’s brother, Carlos? Did Judy and Victor have a relationship or remain friends? Just a few questions I would have liked answered.

    • Iris Foley says:

      I definitely think you’re right about Victor learning about masculinity from his peers and I think that for him it was definitely trial and error as he accumulated experiences. I think that’s why he took such care in teaching his little brother about being a man because he wanted to be the father figure for him that he had never had and give him the right advice.

  55. Kaydo says:

    Raising Victor Vargas is surprisingly not far off from modern day times, even though it is over a decade old. Many adolescence must endure similar pressures of manhood through peer pressure from friends and family. In this case, in contrast to Piri, was that Victor and his siblings did not have a father to follow. This phenomenon of a fatherless family is not uncommon in these types of areas. Victor’s mother had to play the role of the compassionate and the authoritative which could many times has a tendency to cause a miscommunication or disconnect from one of the roles played.
    In my own experiences, I have grown to my mid teens before my step father came in to the picture, however I was already far beyond the point where two parents would have been quite beneficial to my upbringing. It is not impossible to become successful without both parents during adolescence, however it does often cause some issues related to intimacy, trust, and social interactions.
    Those issues can be seen in the movie with Victor’s insubordination with his mother or his lack of connection with his brother and sister. However Victor is very easily trusting in his friends who believe they know what a man is supposed to be like. Which in turn makes Victor pursue things like a relationship with people for the wrong reasons.

    • Kaydo says:

      Grandmother *

      • I agree with you about this being a modern day film mainly because many teenagers may relate very much to him. I remember when I was younger guys would always brag about how many girls their with or who’s with the hottest girl in school. Times still have not changed which truly is not a surprise. Although I don’t believe that not having a father is the main reason as to why Victor was degrading women. I believe that even with or without a father it is truly just peer pressure. There are many fathers who are in their children’s lives but it doesn’t mean that the child is going to respect women. Just like your experience I’ve seen many guys who will respect their mothers and their fathers but be the ultimate player.

  56. Raising Victor Vargas was a very family oriented movie. I thought the different dimensions of the relationships shows a lot about the characters in this movie. Victor`s relationship with everyone in the movie is a bit difference. He is forced to grow up and be the “man of the house” which puts a lot of pressure on him. He struggles being a teenage boy in the summer and doing all that he desires to do while he`s young, but also have to worry about the standards of his grandmother and the image he is portraying to his younger siblings.

    Victor and his sister have a love hate relationship but when it came to his grandmother putting him out you see that they actually care for one another. Victor and his little brother`s relationship is a lot different. His brother really looks up to him and in some scenes it appeared that he wanted to emulate Victor`s character. Victor and his best friend`s relationship is different as well. He wants to be seen as “the man” around him and gets a high from his friend believing that he is having sex with a lot of pretty girls.

    Two of the most important relationships were Victor and Judy and Victor and his grandmother. Victor and Judy`s relationship develops as the movie goes on and you can see that she is letting her guard down with him. There is also evidence of Victor changing his player ways for Judy by him actually showing that he cares and wanting her to see him in his normal setting. Victor and his grandmother`s relationship is complicated. He wants to make her happy but he also wants to be a teenage boy without have so much responsibility on his shoulders. His grandmother has established a role she wants him to be based on their circumstances (no man being around) and her past experiences with her husband.

    Overall, this movie was very interesting and shows the different dynamics in which one character may go through and how they develop throughout the movie.

    • Iris Foley says:

      I agree with you on the conflicted relationships Victor had with both Judy and his grandmother. In both cases he knew how he should act and how he should treat them but found it difficult when they annoyed him or got on his nerves. I feel in both cases he felt pressured to be a leading figure – a role model for his sister or the man of the house for his grandmother. I think in both cases he worried if he was capable and decided to not bother when it became too difficult and kept him from doing “normal teenager stuff.”

  57. Raising Victor Vargas was an extremely interesting movie. As a viewer you were able to see how some of the men in the video treated women a degrading manner. We were able to see that Victor was scared of his pride and his reputation. This isn’t far fetch from how most teenagers today react in certain situations especially with their peers.
    Victors views of how a man should be is a player and we were able to see how Judy potentially was the one that changed him. I don’t believe Vicotras ideas of manhood is because his father wasn’t there when he was growing up but I believe that his views are skewed from what society expects of him to be. For instance almost all the men in video were still degrading Judy and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t grow up without a mall figure but its what society expects of men.
    Victors grandma is constantly nagging victor to grow up and be a man of the house. I believe that the grandma should have been the head of the house not truly depending on Victor to become this figure just because of what the grandma wants. Women should have just as much of the rights to be the head of the house as a man should she pays the bills, she makes sure that everyone is feed and taken care of she’s necessarily the provider of the house.

  58. Audrey Allyn says:

    In Harvest of Empire the author, Juan Gonzales, talks about how the white people who resided in the areas that the Dominicans immigrated to, viewed their new neighbors. They were not taken lightly and were misjudged for black people most of the time. It was also apparent that the white people looked at Dominicans for their failures, rather than their successes. They were stereotyped as people who brought on violence and drug trafficking, but those who avoided this stereotype were not acknowledged. Later on they grew to become more prestigious businessmen around New York City because of the immigration of Puerto Ricans and Mexicans who were held on a lesser status. There is a Puerto Rican-Dominican rivalry that started and continued on today.
    People of less status had more trouble obtaining things that whites were given the opportunities for. An example of this is the fact that when one of Uncle Rafael’s sisters was trying to receive a passport and needed to produce 24 photos and take one to each police precinct in the capital so that they could check to see if she was a prostitute or known political protestor is absurd. The story of Ana Maria Luciano gives us insight to how little they had opportunity-wise and how they needed to make by on very little. Their lives were pretty much planned out for them and if they tried to do something out of that plan, they were hated, even by their own families. Ana proved to be stronger and went to school for a degree and a stable job. She shows us how Dominicans needed to fight and work their way to make some of themselves and a better life for their family.

  59. Amy Hahm says:

    I loved watching Raising Victor Vargas. While it was an interesting movie, it brought up many different aspects of masculinity and culture. Right off the bat, the movie starts off with Victor Vargas trying to maintain his masculine façade by trying to hide that he has been having a secret relationship with fat Donna. It tells you so much about Victor’s character, how he is ashamed to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t perceived as beautiful or hot. When his friend asks Victor about his relationship with Donna, he shrugs it off saying something like “I’m Victor, I only hook up with dimes.” Victor constantly puts on a front as

    Raising Victor Vargas was a very family oriented movie. I thought the different dimensions of the relationships shows a lot about the characters in this movie. Victor`s relationship with everyone in the movie is a bit difference. He is forced to grow up and be the “man of the house” which puts a lot of pressure on him. He struggles being a teenage boy in the summer and doing all that he desires to do while he`s young, but also have to worry about the standards of his grandmother and the image he is portraying to his younger siblings.

    Victor and his sister have a love hate relationship but when it came to his grandmother putting him out you see that they actually care for one another. Victor and his little brother`s relationship is a lot different. His brother really looks up to him and in some scenes it appeared that he wanted to emulate Victor`s character. Victor and his best friend`s relationship is different as well. He wants to be seen as “the man” around him and gets a high from his friend believing that he is having sex with a lot of pretty girls.

    Two of the most important relationships were Victor and Judy and Victor and his grandmother. Victor and Judy`s relationship develops as the movie goes on and you can see that she is letting her guard down with him. There is also evidence of Victor changing his player ways for Judy by him actually showing that he cares and wanting her to see him in his normal setting. Victor and his grandmother`s relationship is complicated. He wants to make her happy but he also wants to be a teenage boy without have so much responsibility on his shoulders. His grandmother has established a role she wants him to be based on their circumstances (no man being around) and her past experiences with her husband.

    Overall, this movie was very interesting and shows the different dynamics in which one character may go through and how they develop throughout the movie.

    • I agree with you about the movie being family oriented which is an important aspect in any Latino family. Family is mainly the most important thing, but the thing that upset me when watching the movie is that the grandmother was so willing to give up on Victor. In my experience with family my family has always been there for me and that I would hope that because they believe I’m not living up to their expectations that they will just deny me from the family. Victor may of been “out of control” but there wasn’t a truly good enough reason to just let him go. On the other hand it did change Victor and truly did make him a better person. He was not only able to help out around the house but he also was able to better respect women and his family.

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