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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mar de plástico: Masculinity, Whiteness, and Eastern European Migrants in Spanish Prime Time Television


The following essay analyzes representations of whiteness and its imbrication with both masculinity and the construction of Eastern European migrants in the Spanish TV drama Mar de plástico (2015). The violent, white masculinity of the protagonist, Héctor Aguirre, frames him as a protector of the weak and victimized, and the type of man needed to resolve the many problems plaguing Spanish society. By contrast, the whiteness of Eastern European migrants is portrayed as insidious and threatening to the safety and social structure of the community. Both of these engagements with whiteness stem from feelings of uncertainty and anger in broader Spanish society with entrenched economic and class hierarchies, as well a reaction to changing demographics and new influxes of immigrants. The innovative aspects of the show: a desire to create a well-produced, cinematic experience as well as engage with socially-relevant topics, unfortunately are only skin deep, because the narrative falls back on stereotyped portrayals of immigrants and a white, warrior-hero masculinity.

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