What I'm about to tell you may shock you. In light of recent events, it may seem nearly impossible. But these words are the truth.
J.Lo and Marc Anthony have a Latin talent reality show. That is currently on the air.
I'll give you a minute to absorb that.
J.Lo and Marc Anthony, whose tragic breakup I chronicled here, created their own Latin talent competition and it is currently on the air, despite the aforementioned split.
First of all, did any one else know this existed? If so, why didn't you tell me? This is the kind of thing that needs to make pop culture headlines. It's on Fox, guys. Not Telemundo (which is a fine network in its own right). But instead they just quietly slip in trailers in between New Girl previews and Ryan Seacrest's hairdo. (I assume they are under a contract to still air the show, but hoping no one will notice.)
Well, Fox, I noticed.
And I was intrigued enough to give it a chance. I had enough questions to motivate me to investigate: was I wrong about American Idol being the last straw in their relationship? Was it in fact, the pressure of working together in Q'Viva: The Chosen instead ? (HOW out of control is J.Lo's hair/presence in that homepage picture, by the way?) Are their interactions going to be painfully awkward to watch? (They were.)
So I watched an entire episode. Essentially, J.Lo, Marc Anthony, and some guy who looks vaguely familiar named Jamie King, go around to South American countries and watch people who have sent in audition tapes to see if they really have what it takes to be on the show. And they either change their lives forever or shatter their dreams. As all good reality talent shows do.
As I watched, though, I quickly became enthralled, not with J.Lo's larger-than-life hair or Marc Anthony actually having a personality, but with the people they visited.
These people were young, talented, and above all, passionate. We say we're passionate about singing or writing or helping others.
But these people were all-caps PASSIONATE.
They put all of their heart and soul into what they were doing, whether it was a dancer, or an 11-year-old guitar prodigy, or someone doing this thing called "murga," which is so hard to describe ,but Marc called it "poetry in motion," which I feel like was a fair assessment.
What stood out the most to me was a kid named Martin (pictured above with J.Lo). He was probably in his late teens, and he was really unique. He did tricks and sort of danced with a soccer ball--I guess similar to what a Harlem Globetrotter does. His skill at handling the ball was unreal. Catching it with his neck, rolling it around on his body, flinging it into the air with his feet and doing a flip before catching it with an ankle or a shoulder. Ridiculous.
When J.Lo saw him, she really liked him but didn't feel like his act was polished enough for the show. (COME ON, J.LO. COME. ON.)
Here was his response (translated of course):
It's hard, because I really wanted it. But I didn't make it. So I may be losing the greatest opportunity of my life. But I have to go on. That's what being Latin is all about. Latins dont remain lying on the floor. We pick ourselves up seven times if we fall six.
All of the people they auditioned were so proud of their culture and their countries.
There were twins who were hip-hop dancers but danced to traditional Chilean music. When J.Lo told them they were coming to the States to be on the show, they of course erupted in excitement. You know what they said? Not, "Yay! We're awesome!" They said:
"CHILE! VIVA CHILE!"
A lot of the people I saw did the same. "VIVA MEXICO!"
I thought it was beautiful.
In a way, I can't even really apply that to our culture. If we were to say "Long Live the United States!" people might dislike us more than they already do. Let's just be honest.
I think sometimes we see these countries and think to ourselves, "That's adorable. They think their country is the best ever, but it has so much poverty and corruption." (Though maybe not that bluntly.) But even though I'm sure they are well aware of the problems in their own country (as we all have), they are still proud. They love their country and the people in it. They have unity, which is something I think we could learn from.
Either way, even if we can't directly apply their passion to our own country in the same way, it was still beautiful to see and I loved getting to see different types of talent in other parts of the world.
The great thing about this show was that it never gave the impression that they felt sorry for these people for not living where we live. It never made me think for even a second that they were trying to "save" these people. They were trying to highlight their talent and show it off to the rest of the world. They were trying to celebrate Latin culture, not change it to fit American culture.
I loved that. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Spanish and Spanish-speaking countries, so I loved listening to them speak Spanish for an hour. (Side note: if anyone wants to volunteer to help me become fluent in Spanish--I am fairly conversational--out of the goodness of their heart, let me know.)
I don't know if I'll watch it again, but it really opened my eyes to the beauty of a different culture and I so admired their passion, pride and determined spirit.
Have you ever experienced another culture you found intriguing or beautiful in a different way than ours?