I’m going to have to Google to find out what percentage of New Mexico residents outside of Santa Fe and maybe Albuquerque will fit the little niche this casting company has created for people to be in for a tourism promotion featuring “the people” of New Mexico. One thing is clear though… New Mexico needs to stop going out of state to hire people to promote their state and stick with folks who know a little about their subject. Here’s the requirement as per the Santa Fe edition of The New Mexican:
Remember, this advertising campaign, by the Texas-based company, filmed by a California crew, is designed to rebrand New Mexico so affluent people in Houston and Chicago stop confusing us with Oklahoma or Arizona. Here’s what the creative minds behind it see when they think “New Mexico” based on the casting call posted by On Location Casting (with offices in New Mexico, Texas, Nevada and California). The New Mexico offices are important, because the casting company has been cited as the New Mexico part of this $2 million contract — and what the casting agent called for to portray New Mexico was this.
First, “real families … Mom & Dad 35-40 years old, fit and attractive, brown or black hair.” The kids were to be 8-14, “everyday kids,” but fit and cute. The notice also called for “real couples preferred but NOT required,” 30-40 years old. In all cases, mountain biking, hiking and climbing experience was called a plus, with an ability to swim a necessity. Oh, and the other common requirement? Only “Caucasian or light-skinned Hispanic” folks needed to apply. The filming was scheduled for early March.
Ruh Roh! Only Caucasian or “light-skinned Hispanic” folks? Ok, it’s obvious that really none of the requirements have anything to do with any real “average” or “typical” New Mexican family demographic. They’re based on a demo perceived as representing a happy little upwardly mobile American population, safely ensconced in the mid to upper middle class and able to afford all those other things. Not a big deal… all states do this in their tourism promotions and I would have been surprised if this one had been any different. Hell I used to laugh my ass off at those ads featuring Ahnold and Maria sitting at some beachfront country club as all those Armani wearing white folks with perfect bodies frolicked on the beaches or played golf here in California.
But really now… only Caucasian or light skinned Hispanics? I suppose so they could not so much try to pass them off as Caucasian but mainly so as not offend the sensibilities of the target audience, which is after all, upper and upper middle class white folks in other states with enough money to spend on a New Mexico vacation. Those kind of people aren’t coming to New Mexico to see an “average” New Mexican. They want to see folks just like themselves.
In all fairness, there’s no evidence that there were any New Mexicans involved in this little promotional Freudian slip. “On Location Casting” is named as “having offices” in New Mexico, Texas and California” but somehow I envision that New Mexico office as being along the lines of Goldman Sachs’ Cayman Island branch… just enough substance to claim it’s there without being outright liars. In any event, the New Mexican explains:
Of course, Hispanos, even the dark-skinned ones, can be Caucasian — that’s something New Mexicans know but people in other states often forget. Indians are going to be in the commercial — Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson, when asked about the out-of-state film crew pointed out that Native dancers were being used.
We’d wager that there are more than a few active Native climbers and bikers, couples and families even. Native people dance and make art, yes, but they are fully in the modern world. They, along with dark-skinned people, even take vacations. That’s why the call for “light-skinned” applicants is wrong-headed. Hearing that term brings to mind a vision of casting agents holding up paper bags next to people’s faces to ensure they can pass. We don’t know, of course, who made it into the shoot and how New Mexico will be presented to the world once the campaign is unveiled. But really, light-skinned only? What were they thinking?
Native dancers are being used? That’s it? Their only function in your little commercial is as a prop? As an entertainment venue for rich white folks? Look New Mexico, we realize that they’re right next door to you and that they’ve been getting all the publicity lately but really, you do NOT need to be resorting to the kinds of tactics that have GOTTEN them all that attention. I live right next door to them on the other side and realize that this is exceedingly small potatoes as such things go but hey, I used to visit Arizona on a regular basis before their own version of small potatoes bloomed into overt racism that exceeded batshit crazy several years ago and possibly the cruelest result of all, having Leatherface for their governor.
I don’t go there anymore and would probably gas up in Needles and travel across their state without stopping to get to yours… solely in order to avoid spending a nickel of my money in Arizona or a minute more there than I absolutely had to .
The time to nip it is now, while it remains small potatoes.