Hispanic Representation in Popular Culture

Intro

The consumption of mass media has become integrated into our society. Content comes in varying shapes and forms. From billboards, hit singles on the radio, to the newest season of Keeping up with the Kardashians. All this exposure results in the portrayal of people from all walks of life. Looking into the growing Hispanic population in the United States, it was obvious that there is a large amount of negative stereotyping in animated television, television shows, and movies.

Animated Television

Animated television is the epitome of the stereotypical Hispanic. All you have to do is turn to popular shows like Family Guy and South Park. Both these shows have been on television for over ten years and new episodes are still airing on television.

The main Latino representation in the show Family Guy is a middle-aged maid named Consuela. She has a Hispanic accent and speaks broken English. She refers to everyone as “misser” regardless of gender. Given the feeling that she is lesser than those that she serves. While working at the Griffin residence, she kicks the family dog (Brian) out of the house while constantly saying “afuera” (Beltran, 2012). Brian, is a main character of the show and is a very intellectual, talking dog. Consuela doesn’t care about that and being a hardheaded Latina woman quickly puts the dog in his place. During her upkeeping of the home, she steals $1000 in play money from the Griffin toddler Stewie. When questioned about it she openly says that she took the money and when asked to give it back she says, ‘come get b****’ (MacFarlane, 2009). This depicts that Latino maids are untrustworthy and quite frankly are criminals. She eventually gets fired by the Griffins but she refuses to leaves her job. So, Peter (father) goes to extreme measures and used chloroform to remove her from the house. Once again going into this stigma that Hispanics are stubborn and in order to get them to abide one must take violent measures. In a later episode, Consuela is shown visiting her son in prison. Further adding to the stigma that Hispanics are hardwired to be involved in criminal activity. To add to the long list of negative qualities, she can’t even be trusted to perform everyday tasks. She struggles to write down a ten-digit telephone number. According to Myles Beltran, “…Consuela fits into the negative stereotype of the unintelligent, untrustworthy, Latina maid,” (Beltran, 2012).

Consuela has it bad in Family Guy but South Park is not much different. Hispanics in this show are substituted by hand puppets (Parker & Stone, 2003). This hand puppet is representation of Jennifer Lopez. She has a heavy accent and the Caucasian character Cartman corrects her improper pronunciation of her own name. Her Spanglish is offensive because it is a very stereotypical depiction of the way Hispanics talk. She then goes on and does a little performance about the way she likes her tacos. Depicting that no matter how successful Latinos are, they still prefer to only eat tacos and burritos. Take into account that this borderline racist act is taking place at an elementary school during a cultural diversity assembly in front of the Latino Endowment Committee. The committee applauded the performance instead of being offended. This sort of encouragement was perplexing because his speech was clearly offensive and racist towards Latinos. Even Cartman’s teacher and the principal had a confused look on their face when they notice that the committee is clapping. In the end, he gets awarded a $20 award for his speech. Jennifer Lopez was actually offended by this interpretation of her. Trey Parker, co-creator of the show, stated, ‘…we heard from some friends that were on a set of a Jennifer Lopez movie she was doing and they said that when she would walk by, some of the lower people like the PAs would say, ‘Oooh tacos, I love tacos…’ And that she got so mad and had to fire people…’. If the Hispanic characters aren’t hand puppets, then they are depicted as the stereotypical sleepy Mexican. This Hispanic character was sleeping on the job, works as a janitor, and has a hat on that says ‘Yo (heart) TACO’ (Parker & Stone, 2002). Once again going with this sense that Latinos live off eating tacos. Like Consuela, the character is working a low-income job and shows no further advancement in his societal status.

jennifer-lopez

Cartman’s Speech: http://southpark.cc.com/clips/154010/i-eat-tacos-burritos

Television Shows 

When it comes to television actors, you are more likely to see a Hispanic play the role of a maid or a gangbanger than a lawyer or a doctor. Nadra Kareem Nittle brings up the shift from African Americans playing the role of domestic workers to now Latinos taking up the roles (Nittle, 2016). Hispanic actress Lupe Ontivero estimated that she been a maid more than 150 times on multiple occasions including the show Reba (Bryce, 2009). She states, ‘I long to play a judge. I long to play a lesbian woman. I long to play a councilman…’ (Bryce, 2009). Popular shows like Devious Maids and Breaking Bad; do a disservice to Latinos because they further support this generalization.

In the show Breaking Bad, there is negative stereotyping towards Hispanic males. Recently Hispanics males have begun to be label as violent and heavily involved in gang related activity. This sort of stigma was given rise due to the Mexican Drug War and Hollywood took advantage of this. In Breaking Bad, all the Latino males are aggressive, money hungry, self-centered drug dealers. The two main antagonist in the show are both Hispanic males drug lords (Tuco and Crazy 8).  In episode 6 a DEA agent is describing to a group of other DEA agents as the new flow of meth not coming out of, “some Mexican super lab” (Woods, 2013). It might seem insignificant, but all these negative connotations actually affect the perception of the Latino population in the United States.

The show Devious Maids is a show with an all lead roles taken up by Latina but they are all playing the roles of housekeepers. Eva Longoria (co-executive producer) states, ‘the show is debunking stereotypes by showing Latina maids as more than maids,’ (Reyes, 2013). Raul Reyes disagrees and say that the show is in fact reinforcing stereotypes. The show has drawn negative reactions from the Hispanic community because it fails to represent the progress of Latinas on television. He goes on to say that in the first few episodes the show managed to nail every cliché; depicted as subservient, oversexualized, and very chismosa (gossipy). Another show to add the list of stereotypical Hollywood roles. Not only are they playing the roles of low income workers but they are primarily working for rich Caucasian families. Instead of living their own lives, they live for their employers and are expected to meet their every demand.

Film

Hispanics are extremely beneficial to the economic welfare of the United States and the movie, “A Day Without a Mexican” provides a terrible representation of what would happen if all Mexicans disappeared. In the movie, Latinos are all grouped together under the Mexican ethnicity (Rios, 2015). There is no differentiation of the different traditions, cultures, beliefs, or even languages. We don’t all speak Spanish and that’s a very common misconception. This concept that we are all the same causes lack of diversity within the Hispanic community. If you watch the trailer to for the movie you notice that the sudden disappearance of all the “Mexican” cause extreme hardship for all the Caucasian people. No one is left to park your car, mow the lawns, or serve you your water at a restaurant. This just goes to show that Mexican’s occupy all the undesirable jobs. The careers of the professional Latino workers are unaccounted for. They are easier to replace because there are a lot less of them. However, the dirty jobs must be maintained by the “Mexicans” in order for luxury to be readily available.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the generalization of Hispanics in animated shows, television series, and film. Results in an inaccurate portrayal of the diversity within the Hispanic community. It disregards the educated Latinos that are contributing members of society.

Learning Moments:

My most memorable leaning moment had to have been during Week 4: The Influence of Advertising. I got to learn about and analyze all the underlying messages that I usually don’t pay attention to on a day to day basis. I found the “WAYS OF SEEING” videos to be very informative and valid in many cases. He put a great emphasis on envy and how that leads to the consumption of more materialistic goods. I ranted on the course blog about how this sense of greed fuels us to obtain more wealth (money, jewel, stuff) and just how much emphasis companies put on it. Sales are associated with every holiday to the point where the holidays are so bland that it’s almost meaningless.

A second learning moment came with Week 6: Finding, Evaluating, and Analyzing Primary and Secondary Sources. I loved really analyzing the Adidas (House Party) ad because I got to focus on the purpose of the video. I essentially focused on my who, what, when, where, and why form of analysis and structured it to find the overall goal of the commercial. I found this task to be very entertaining because I paid a lot more attention to minute details. Like the demographic being represented, the way the clothing line was displayed, the brief appearance of celebrities, and the sexualization of people’s bodies.

 

Bibliography

Beltran, Myles. “Family Guy.” Latina/o Representation and FOX Broadcasting Company. Blogger, 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://rtf370.blogspot.com/

Bryce, Alison. “Latina Actress Aims To Break Maid Stereotype.” Npr. N.p., 19 Apr. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102967047

Cazzidy. “Some Celebs Responses to South Park Parody.” Lipstick Alley. N.p., 26 May 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.lipstickalley.com/showthread.php/704553-Some-celebs-responses-to-South-Park-parody

MacFarlane, Seth. “Dog Gone.” IMDb. Amazon.com, 29 Nov. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1329673/

Nittle, Nadra Kareem. “Five Common Latino Stereotypes in Television and Film.” About News. ZergNet, 08 Jan. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://racerelations.about.com/od/hollywood/a/Five-Common-Latino-Stereotypes-In-Television-And-Film.htm

Parker, Trey, and Matt Stone. “I Eat Tacos & Burritos.” South Park Studios. Hulu, 16 Apr. 2003. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://wiki.southpark.cc.com/wiki/Fat_Butt_and_Pancake_Head

Parker, Trey, and Matt Stone. “Museum of Tolerance.” South Park Studios. Hulu, 20 Nov. 2002. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://southpark.cc.com/clips/104220/museum-of-tolerance

Reyes, Raul. “‘Devious Maids’ Does a Disservice to Latinos: Column.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 09 July 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/07/09/devious-maids-latinos-tv-show-column/2461193/

Rios, Zelma. “8 Examples of the Problem Hollywood Has Portraying Mexico and Mexicans.” Borderzine. N.p., 26 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://borderzine.com/2015/04/8-examples-of-the-problem-hollywood-has-portraying-mexico-and-mexicans/

Woods, Justin. “CAPS Blog #5: Stereotyping in Breaking Bad (Season 1: Episodes 1-6).” Comm 211x Fall 2013. Blogger, 08 Nov. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://comm211xsfall2013.blogspot.com/2013/11/caps-blog-5-stereotyping-in-breaking.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted in Fall 2016 by carlosjhm. Bookmark the permalink.

About carlosjhm

Hello! My name is Carlos and I am a second year student at Portland State University. I am majoring in Biology with a focus on Pre-Medicine. My goal is to go to Medical School at OHSU and become a cardiac surgeon.

5 thoughts on “Hispanic Representation in Popular Culture

  1. Hi Carlos!
    I like your blog post! It is a very big eye opener on how Hispanics are represented on different media sources. Especially on animated shows, this seems very prominent. These shows just love to make fun of most races. I’ve never thought about how they are represented in film, but the example you gave seems like a very strong example on how they are being represented poorly.
    Good job!

  2. Hey Carlos,
    Great post! Reading this made me realize how much racist jokes are used in TV shows as a way to get the audience to laugh. Shows like South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons, etc. all have either racist characters or stereotypical characters and jokes as a way to get laughs. I remember watching South Park and seeing an episode where they had a stereotypical Asian character. It’s clear that they are using it for laughs, but it is still pretty offensive.

  3. Hi Carlos,

    Really informative blog post. It was very well written and had a good flow to it. I have read a few blog posts so far and this one was very eye opening! The only thing I would argue back would be about the bashing of South Park and other adult cartoons. I believe that these shows are a positive. They use satirical comedy, similar to a political cartoon, and overdo the stereotype in order to educate people on how insane the stereotypes are. I can see how it would be offensive to people who don’t understand the comedy.

  4. Hey,
    This is a really good post. I think you used great sources to support your blog post. I think that is is so frustrating how Latinos are portrayed in popular culture, because there is really not too many accurate representations of these people. In regards to Kyle’s comment, I disagree with him, adult cartoons such as South Park and Family Guy are in no way positive. They have a ton of racism and sexism, along with body shaming. I do however find these cartoons entertaining and funny, but sometimes the racism is taken to far, as you depicted from your first example. I think a lot of people who are not of minorities do not understand the way these cartoons are offensive, because they do not have to be constantly aware of their race, because of the amount of racism in our country. I think a lot of people have a huge misunderstanding of Latino culture and this has a lot to do with the way they are portrayed in the media. They need more shows with Latinos and Latinas in roles other than the help, because it is inaccurate.

  5. Hey Carlos!
    I was really looking forward to reading your post. I remember going over it since we were in the same group. Anyways, I love the pop culture sources you used. Family Guy and South Park are very popular shows and you used them to support your thesis perfectly. One thing about these shows that I’m kind of okay with is that they make fun of everyone. They don’t specifically focus on something specific. For example, they have episodes making fun of Muslims then they got an episode making fun of Hispanics and Jews. I can see why many people find this offensive, but for me I just find it funny since that’s what the shows’ intentions are.

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