“In The Heights” Got Me In The Hypes
The trailer for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s movie In The Heights dropped last week, and I’m in the hypes.
I was raised in an era where seeing a movie like In The Heights, based off a Tony Award-winning play written by a Puerto Rican about his upbringing in the Latinx community of Washington Heights, was rare. Growing up, the only on-screen representation of Latinxs was in West Side Story. I staged a protest my sophomore year in high school and demanded that if we were forced to watch the film, we needed to spend some time providing context to the stereotyped characters and brown-face that were prevalent in the movie. (Much love to Rita Moreno, though.)
In The Heights is meaningful to me for sentimental reasons as well because the play came out when my wife and I first started dating. She’s from Inwood, the neighborhood just north of the Heights. This past summer, I kept running into the production crew and was privileged to some insights and cameos in the movie that will be sure to bring a smile or a tear to audiences.
It is important that our community is both supportive and critical of movies like this. As we all know, Latinxs don’t pop up on the big screen too often. One study found that out of the 100 top-grossing films each year from 2007 to 2018, only three percent featured Latino actors in leading or co-leading roles. In the Heights doesn’t simply star a Latinx actor, it was written by one and features an overwhelmingly Latinx cast where one could argue the true main star, Washington Heights, is itself Latinx.
I plan on supporting this film and encourage everyone else to as well. I fucks with Lin and I think he showcases the complexities of our communities and demonstrates our humanity which is most often removed from us when we outsiders are telling our stories. I will also be critical if the depictions of our community are simplified in order to be palatable to a broader audience.
The movie is slated for release in June of 2020. Until then, catch me here waiting for summer (not that I wasn’t already sitting here waiting for summer).