December 2nd, 2011
03:59 PM ET

Is Jennifer Lopez still at home on the block?

Jenny’s come a long way from her block in the Bronx - maybe too long?

Singer and actor Jennifer Lopez, who once told fans not to be “fooled by the rocks that I got,” found herself in the middle of a controversy recently: Can she still be Jenny from the block if she can't even come home to film an advertisement?

After she sealed an endorsement deal with Italian carmaker Fiat, one of her commercials featured her in the Bronx, where she grew up. The commercial shows Lopez driving through streets lined with bodegas, beauty shops, bucket drummers and dancing children. The song, “Until It Beats No More,” from her new album “Love?” plays in the background.

“This place inspires me to be tougher, to stay sharper, to think faster,” Lopez says in a voiceover. “They may be just streets to you, but to me, they’re a playground.”

But the woman in the car wasn't Lopez.

Indeed, Lopez’s scenes were shot in Los Angeles, while a body double shot the scenes in New York. The two collections of shots were merged with Lopez’s voiceover in a miracle of digital editing.

After Lopez costarred with a Fiat in her dance routine during the American Music Awards and news of the body double spread, Fiat released a statement that said, "In today’s world, people are increasingly mobile and their work takes them to a variety of locations. As a result, we took the opportunity to film wherever Ms. Lopez was working at the time to accommodate her schedule."

This week, TATS Cru, the creators of a graffiti mural shown in the ad, threatened to sue the production firm because they hadn't been compensated for its use. The matter was settled amicably the next day.

Online commenters still weren't impressed.

One commenter, GlossyShoes,  wrote "Sorry but if the bronx really inspired her, she would fly out to make the commercial there.. shes prob scared too go back and is thankful she got out."

Another, Beowulf1211, wrote “Its a little ridiculous you shoot a commercial about roots…..and never leave Hollywood to shoot it.”

“You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks Jennifer Lopez actually drives a teeny-tiny $20,000 Fiat. She’s got toe rings that cost that much," advertising industry mag Adweek quipped.

"I just want to know, Lady Lo, why weren’t you there on my block that day where you could have mingled with aspiring Jennys from the block and gotten a refresher course in the Bronx we both grew up in?" wrote Ed Morales, the journalist and longtime Bronx resident who first outed Lopez’s use of a body double on his blog.

The Nuyorican performer’s success has often traded on her authenticity as a girl from one of New York City’s grittier boroughs. Her debut album’s title, “On the 6,” refers to the subway train she’d take to audition in Manhattan from her home in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx.

According to 2010 Census figures, 53.5% of the borough’s residents are Hispanic or Latino and 28% live below the poverty line. The annual median household income is $32,888.

One of the mansions she owned with then-husband Marc Anthony, whom she is now in the process of divorcing, is in exclusive Hidden Hills, California, where the median household income is more than $248,000 per year and 9.6% of residents are Hispanic or Latino.

Still, in a culture that places a premium on authenticity and not forgetting where you came from, much of Lopez’s branding is designed to appeal to the common person – someone who aspires to a star’s wardrobe at discount prices. Most items in her namesake apparel line at Kohl’s department stores are priced under $100. Her fragrance line is set at an inclusive price point. The cars she's driving for Fiat aren’t priced for the caviar-and-champagne set, either. The Fiat 500c starts at a suggested retail price of $19,500, and the Fiat by Gucci at $23,500.

Lee Hernandez, entertainment editor at Latina Magazine, said that not being in the Bronx during the shoot doesn’t mean that Lopez has lost touch with her roots – it just means she’s busy.

“People are just guessing that she’s ashamed of her community,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think there’s any sort of snobbery attached to her going to a certain place in the world… The significant thing to us is not where she shot the commercial, but that she is shooting a commercial, and that that’s attainable. That’s what she embodies.”

Lopez’s first major magazine cover was for Latina in 1996, Hernandez said, and even then, she appealed to the magazine’s up-and-coming, ambitious reader base.  Recent comments on the magazine’s website indicate that most fans still support her, he said.

Hernandez said Lopez’s identity as a Bronx girl is less about geographic location than about striving for success.

“Latinos – we do take identity very seriously,” Hernandez said. “We’re a people who are very ambitious, very driven, very educated for the most part. We look at Jennifer Lopez to be an example for us.”

Even Morales, who first blogged about Lopez's body double, said the controversy isn't going to cause permanent damage. Morales, a Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race adjunct professor, said urban culture places a premium on “keeping it real,” but it doesn’t mandate that you stay where you started.

“I don’t think a lot of people have a tremendous respect for her musical accomplishments, aside from having some catchy tunes,” Morales said. “But that doesn’t mean that people don’t respect her as an icon. She does represent a kind of typical Bronx Puerto Rican in many ways – her appearance, her attitude, the way she speaks. That’s going to resonate with people in the Bronx– I don’t think they’re going to think, ‘Oh, look at her, she thinks she’s better than us.’”

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Filed under: Community • Ethnicity • How we live • Latino in America • Pop culture
soundoff (32 Responses)

    Born and raised in the Bronx but I have no love loss for her or anyone else that doesn't like going back to the Bx.

    People are just plain backwards out there. Plus, where the hell am I supposed to park my 370Z? On the street? In a garage? It would get stolen in heartbeat and stripped for its parts, ending up somewhere in Hunts Point.

    My G/F, also from Bx, decided one day to tell me about "Keeping it Real" and remembering where I came from. I told her anytime she and her son are ready to move out MY 3BR, 2800sq ft, house that is not ghetto, back to projects on Webster I will arrange the trip.

    December 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Orville

    What happened was that she got as life and now she's living it. The fact that so many of you out there can't get your act together should in no way influence her to be inclined to pay homage to a place,or way of life, that even you would drop in a heartbeat, if given the opportunity. Realize that even in a place like that, she was able to self inspire and motivate; why can't you do it? Enough said.

    December 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Aww thknas everyone. I am dying to see it! Viewing party sounds fun, I wish I knew in advance when she will wear one!

      February 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jorge

    Typical generic American reactions. In a media world full of Ronald Reagans, Milli Vanillis, Vanilla Ices, Lindsey Lohans and a wealth of other fake, trussed-up celebrity half-deads, bums and posers, it has to be the favorite flavor-of-the-moment minority to hate actress/singer that everybody has trash to talk about. I wonder what percent of you all would have the nads or the talent to stand on a stage in front of an audience at all, without getting cut up to the point where you stain the front of your pants? So easy to talk the B.$.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Krystal

    Isn't it stupid that she wont even help her home girls and/or boys that are still stuck in the Bronx?
    Oh no, she's to busy being rich and conceited.
    She has definitely forgotten were she came from. She may mention it a lot but she's just being fake, artificial. She mentions it to seem "cool".
    She definitely doesn't ACT like shes from the Bronx. Busy woman huh? To busy to show some love to the very place/people that made her who she is now.
    We've definably lost her. Just like Lil Wayne.
    That dude is livin the rich life and only using his roots for his own benefit.
    i completely agree with you ..karina.

    December 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • GinaLove

      @Krystal, What exactly is J Lo supposed to do in the way of helping the homeboys and homegirls? I mean seriously, how about when you reach Lo's status (success and wealth), you go back and freely walk the gritty streets of the Bronx. Let's keep it real for a moment. I don't personally know J Lo to call her conceited or judge her in any negative (or positive) light. As far as I know, she is just one originally from the "hood" that has financially benefited greatly from making a name for herself in the entertainment buiness. She has given just as much monetarily to those less fortunate as the next celebrity from the "hood". Why should she or anyone else be compelled to stay connected to the neighborhood from which they grew up, just because you and other people in that area feel as though that is somehow the customary thing to do?

      December 4, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • Krystal

        the Bronx IS J Lo she can't just forget that she came from there and was just as much a "hood" as everyone who lives there now. She cant just forget that part of her life and pretend that she never was that. Yet shes going off and ignoring those who need her. She's forgotten to come back for all those people who can't leave the hood as easily as she did. [Make the money, get the mansion, bring the homies with us] [f even if you take the good route, can't count the hood out]
        She's all Hollywood now, at least as far as I can see.
        [With a new white tee you fresh, nothin' phoney with us] [Nothin' phony, don't hate on me]
        Try to put yourself in this situation, because someone is in it right now:
        You knew J Lo when she lived in the bronx, when she was still Jenny from the Block. Suddenly she gets famous and rich, and before you know it, she's gone. She's flown away from you. your watching her on your t.v. You see all the things shes getting into and you say: "What happened to Jenny?" Where's my awesome friend who

        December 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • -__-

      So shes responsible for everyone else because she got out and did her? okay...that is some retarded logic lol. everyone should be responsible for what they do. jlo is not responsible for home boys and home girls get real grow up and use your head.

      December 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lexington

    FACT IS JLO is back after her fiasco with Mr. Anthony...she dropped an album...and now all of a sudden controversy starts to pop up PUTTING HER IN THE PUBLIC EYE whether good or bad...all this information will catch people up on what's going on with her....this is just a way of getting the public re-familiarized with her ( AS-SETS )...at the end of the day...yeah my first reaction was of course she wouldnt step into the BRONX, SHE'S RICH. I DONT EVEN LIKE GOING TO THE BRONX UNLESS IM GOING TO YANKEE STADIUM OR IN A CAR PARKING IN A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD. lets be real...and put yourself in the situation if you had her success. She could care less about what we think of her. Get your minds right and work on your own success and praise God. That's all that mattes. Good night

    December 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DNix

    Haters need to get a life. This is NOT worth complaining about. At least she RECOGNIZED her roots. BE APPRECIATIVE!! Technology has advanced people! Advance with it or stick with your bag phone. Unbelieveable.

    December 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. poopmeister

    I'm gonna call in to work tomorrow and say I'm gonna work but I'm not gonna show up there, I'll work from home. Who does that, really? Just because the company hiring you is ok with that, don't expect that the rest of the country would be. Set an example; whatever happened to the "hardest working actor" motto? The consumers are really to blame because they do gravitate towards celebrities, when they should just be buying a car because it's a good car, not because JLo is 20% in the commercial. Dumb Americans, shame on us.

    December 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philipp

      that least 4900708 times. The prlobem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

      February 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. karina

    that's show business! nothing is what it seems! it's all make believe.. JLo is getting paid million$$ for fiat endorsements & residuals..she has long gone from the bronx & has become strictly "hollywood". very glossy & not real. altho bronx still a soft spot for her it is no longer"home"... money fame power changes everything!

    December 4, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • GinaLove

      "money fame power changes everything!"...

      They should always change everything...nothing should remain constant. And JLo has done a lot of good with hers. I am not saying people should go the superficial route once they get their celebrity status; but as you stated, there is a soft spot in her heart for where she came from; but that doesn't mean it has to still be "home". People, whether wealthy or not, do often move on from their original place of residence. JLo is no different.

      December 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |

    Some people need to get a grip, and relax ! We all change in our lives, if we live in the poor when we are younger we all try to do more with our lives as we grow older. And who we are at 16 will not be who we are at 30. The choices we make in life either good or bad make us change and grow up.
    As for commercials, get a life ! Do you always believe everything on a commercial ?
    If you do , maybe you should change !
    Dont hate on someone just because they wanted more in life. No matter how they went about it. Its what they decided to do. If you have judgement maybe you should look in the mirror and judge how your life is going.


    December 4, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Guest

    What a silly controversy. Are people so shallow it makes them so upset because the commercial was "edited"? I hope these same people don't watch Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter movies. They are fake too. But good entertainment nonetheless. Get real people.

    December 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ill

      fool... those movies dont claim be "from the block"
      and yea her and most others trade their hood pass for bottled water, soul for fame, and body for money..

      December 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • ill

        and dont just mean females.
        look at snoop dogg, straight bіtch made now

        December 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • GinaLove

      I agree.

      December 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peikovianii

    She still does all the wrong men in alleyways, so she hasn't changed much.

    December 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • GinaLove

      @Peikovianii, that is jealousy at its core....
      It amazes me how people go this route of bashing a celebrity just because you get wind of a so-called "controversy".

      December 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Junizee

        In gerneal terms, medication isn\'t the answer, but this woman seems like an exception. Sorry you got stabbed.

        February 14, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Socrates

    Another old cougar woman eating young boys. Later when the "relationship" falls apart they will cry wondering what went wrong. Relationship with a younger person is a honeymoon, it is not a relationship. Jennifer, enjoy while you can.

    December 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. marc

    Money change people it's a fact....she use to be Jennifer Lopez now she's JLo.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Erick Rodriguez B.-

    Its like that time I was working at a 5 star hotel in Panama, Rep of Panamá, and had to check out Carolina Herrera and her assistant who were suppoused to be invited to the country for the first fashion show...the letter backing up her stay never was received at the hotel, so I had to ask for a credit card at the check out....The assistant was outraged when I turned the platinum Amex card around to check the signature, as a standard procedure, stating it was a valid credit card. Both assistant and fashion designer left disgusted at the "procedure". I mean, if your stay is not backed up, you have to pay for services, doesnt matter who you are.

    December 3, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. delia rodriguez

    J*Lo will never forget where she came from*She regularly mentions her upbringing in the bronx* afterall it's in the bronx where she left her umbilical cord when she was born*

    December 3, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  16. Mz. princess

    people need to stop hating...... okay so what she didnt show up.... jlo is a busy person.

    December 2, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • GinaLove

      I agree, Mz. princess.

      December 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |