Only three months before the 26th anniversary of the legendary Mexican-American Tejano/ Latin Pop idol’s death, Netflix has released Selena: The Series, a live-action adaptation meant to retell the life of the legendary figure whose name alone evokes waves of nostalgia and admiration from her still existing fanbase. A figure of poise and talent, Quintanilla was an avant-garde figure that challenged the body standards of her time and helped solidify the descendants of the Latin American diaspora’s place in the larger Spanish language music scene.
Before Kim Kardashian was breaking the internet, Selena was swaying her hips hypnotically on stage to the tune of Bidi Bidi Bom Bom. Like many artists before her, she sadly received greater attention in her death than during her life.
“De mortuis nihil nisi bonum” is a Latin axiom that translates roughly to “Of the dead, say nothing but that which is good.” A rule that can be easily followed given that Selena lived up to the carefully tailored image her family proposed long before her death and well beyond, with anecdotes of them not letting her sponsor alcoholic beverages in order to retain her role model status for young girls. Her rise and fall are very much comparable to that of Princess Diana of Wales. A stunning sweetheart caught in familial politics whose death is owed by the recklessness and image-obsessed imaginations of their fanbases and publics. Though the thing that genuinely makes them nearly one and the same is one sad truth: they are now just cash cows for film executives. The subjects of film after film, tell-all after tell-all, and book after book, it is hard to believe that anyone wants them to Rest in Peace while there is still money to be made, quality depiction be damned.
Selena: The Series was a flop. In recent history, Rotten Tomatoes have been taken to task for many of its rating practices in the past; however, its judgment of the seventh biographical media seems sound. The 32 % rotten adaptation stars Christian Marie Serratos, a woman of only partial Mexican descent, whose depiction of the legendary singer comes off as a parody. Between her obvious butt implants, her stiff performance, and her poor likeness of the Mexican-American idol has already been the subjects of memes and ridicules’ by what should have been the series’ target demographic, Latinos.
However, the poor scripts and the overlooking of the sheer excess of Latina talent in the film industry make the show seem like an admission that its creators were only after money instead of wanting to pay homage to such a vital Latino figure. In a year where the reign of a xenophobic and strong border administration has come to an end, Latinos deserved something to look forward to. Instead, they got yet another pandering insult from a cold industry that barely has a place for them.
The most damning thing of all is that the Quintanilla family was involved in creating this debauchery. According to a tweet by one of Netflix’s social media pages, they were executive producers that held creative control and were attached since inception. Many red flags must have come up in early production, yet they seemingly greenlit every poor decision. While nothing bad can be said of the dead, perhaps plenty can be said of the living. Is it a far stretch of the imagination that the surviving Quintanilla members seem more interested in benefitting from the proceeds of more and more adaptations as they did from her initial stardom? Did they not want Salma Hayek to star in a biofilm they were to produce in 1995, the same year their golden child was slain by a crazed fan turned thief as reported by Entertainment Weekly?
💕 Bidi Bidi Bom Bom 💕 @SelenaLaLeyenda’s incredible life story is coming to Netflix as a scripted series! @selena_netflix was developed alongside, and will be executive produced by, The Quintanilla family #NetflixNewsWeek pic.twitter.com/6YUMoAeA7Z
— Netflix Queue (@netflixqueue) December 11, 2018
While Yolanda Saldívar is undoubtedly to blame for Selena’s death, who is to blame for the degradation of what she represented to the Latino community?