Hollywood and the Good Neighbor Policy: The Impact of U.S. Foreign Policy on Latin American Stardom

Murphy, Katie
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Good Neighbor Policy, which was based on the principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of Latin America. With the growing threat of war with Germany and the expansion of Nazi influence in Latin American nations, it was imperative for the United States to protect the Western Hemisphere from this impending peril. With the implementation of the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States embarked on a campaign to promote hemispheric solidarity by transforming both the image of the United States abroad and the representation of Latin Americans particularly on film. Hollywood quickly became involved with the government's defense efforts. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact that U.S. foreign policy had on Latin American stardom. An analysis of the films The Three Caballeros, Down Argentine Way, and several episodes from the I Love Lucy television series as well as an investigation of the experiences of Carmen Miranda and Desi Arnaz reveal that while the objective of Hollywood's Good Neighbor Policy was to reconstruct perception of Latin Americans, the Latin American stereotypes were only slightly altered while the featured films continued to fall into line with American imperialism. This study acknowledges the United States' historically inaccurate portrayal of Latin America specifically through film, and helps to raise awareness persisting inaccuracies in the present day motion picture industry.
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