When I heard about the incident that left 23-year-old Selena Quintanilla Perez dead last year, I was appalled. Not only was it a shame to hear about a young life taken, but the manner in which her life ended is disturbing. As you strolled down the streets of Latino neighborhoods you could hear the now famous rhythms from her songs in most households. Unfortunately, the aura of Chicano pride that once surrounded the image of Selena has been clouded with the surge of booming business that was conceived when Selena’s life came to an abrupt and untimely end.
Last Sunday, in hopes of grasping an opportunity to stardom and in what they call a tribute to the late singer, about 8,000 girls and young women flooded the Los Angeles Union Station to audition for the Warner Bros. film that will pay homage to the slain star. Director Gregory Nava held casting calls in San Antonio, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago in search of two females to play the role of Selena.
Creating a two-hour film about the Tejano singer’s life is wrong. The movie may exalt the memory of Selena, however, as in most things in life, at the root is always money.
The producers of the film have surely not overlooked the profit that can be expected from the story of the gunned down singer.
Selena’s last album “Dreaming of You” sold 175,000 copies in one day, making it the second fastest moving album in history by a female recording artist. Perhaps this fact is the driving force behind the movie deal.
Unfortunately, Selena’s memory is being outlined by dollar signs. She was not alive to see her pieces performed in English reach the markets. For this superstar, across-the-border stardom was not reached until after the bullets rang out at the Corpus Christi, Texas motel last March.
Not only did her death bring attention to her music, but also to her aspiring fashion line and her father’s recording studio business, Q Productions.
Throughout the past year, it has not been rare to tune into a Spanish radio or television station and discover some sort of laudation for Selena. Whether it is a compilation of her music videos or re-airing past interviews, dead or alive, Selena seems to still be in the spotlight.
It is saddening that a young life was taken in a moment of rage. But what is more disheartening is the fact that many are seeing Selena’s death as opportunities to sell music, make t-shirts, print posters, make a film and become movie stars.
The most disturbing business that has sprouted from this death is the Selena fashion label. As an aspiring fashion designer, Selena left many designs behind without ever being able to see the finished product. If the label is only being used to market the designs she created, the clothing line may be acceptable. However, her family has created an entire assembly line to continue the business that was originally her endeavor, even though she is dead.
All of these commercial actions are not paying tribute, but disrespecting a memory for money. Selena’s name will soon join the long list of deceased superstars who had the most success after their death, and whose talents are the source of the profit of others.
Selena’s life and death have become the opportunity for others to make it onto the big screen. It was not enough that her fame propelled Tejano music into the mainstream.
The singer’s misfortune has become the fortune of others in less than a year. These commercial actions are not made to acclaim her memory. Rather, her death has been made into the opportunity to make a lucrative dollar.
Regardless of how tragic and devastating the death, sometimes it is best to let the dead rest in peace.
Selena must be tossing and turning in her grave from the abundance of resurrection acts that are being plotted to honor her memory and wondering why all this glory was not vivid when she was alive to celebrate it.