Somehow Hispanic Magazine chose to nominate the outrageous, self-made Hollywood celebrity gossiper Perez Hilton as its 2009 Hispanic of the Year. In a year when the nation saw Justice Sonia Sotomayor become the first Latina to serve as a United States Supreme Court justice, Hispanic Magazine should be ashamed of its lack of judgment and indifference to historical precedence. The only good thing that can be said about this horrific choice is that, thankfully and mercifully, the rest of the media chose to ignore it.
In explaining her decision, Marissa Rodriquez, Hispanic Magazine’s Editor wrote: Who, we asked, are the big players who make the World Wide Web go around? There is little doubt that one of the web’s biggest stars is Perez Hilton. This famous blogger of Cuban American descent is credited by many for revolutionizing celebrity news. Professional gossips are nothing new, as gossip columns have existed in newspapers and magazines since their beginnings. But Perez is at the tipping point of something new, he’s taken an old idea and created something no one else has. His is one of those blogs that sometimes bests traditional news outlets in the 24-hour news game. …While he may be known for his flamboyant personal style and snarky approach to celebrity news, there is also a serious side to Hilton. A prolific poster on his site PerezHilton.com, he doesn’t hold back an opinion, and his opinions influence millions. Yes, he is controversial. Some people even despise him. Hilton knows it. But he is also loved by millions of readers from all over the world who flock to his website daily, making the site not only a cultural phenomenon and a smashing business enterprise. (Editors Letter, December 2009 Edition of Hispanic Magazine)
The “tipping point of something new”?
A “cultural phenomenon”?
Aside from asking the obvious question about what kind of web surfing Rodriguez engages in, her gushing admiration for Hilton as a web pioneer raises serious questions about HISPANIC MAGAZINE’s journalistic rigor. While there are far more significant individuals to list as Latino internet pioneers, HISPANIC MAGAZINE willfully ignored a Latina who truly will influence millions through her decisions in the highest court and whose success represents a tipping point of political and economic opportunity for all of us. As Latinos finally gain much deserved attention in the arts, sciences, law and politics—we cannot afford to be distracted with the mediocre who tantalize us with an opportunity to be sensationalized with 15 minutes of fame. We don’t need fame. We need authentic power that comes from inspired vision and substantive leadership. In the annals of history, there will be much written about this one remarkable moment Judge Sotomayor captured for Latinos. Too bad that chapter did not get written with our own voice under the banner of HISPANIC MAGAZINE.