Question: Latinos have achieved some pretty amazing things in 2007. From being attorney general (Alberto Gonzales) to having a hit TV show ("Ugly Betty") and being the best player in baseball (A-Rod), we've had some high-profile reminders of our influence on U.S. culture.
Why, then, am I still seeing ads for products that feature Latino stereotypes you know, broken English, heavy accent, fiesta/siesta time, the whole bit? Does Jimmy Kimmel's Guillermo sidekick do more harm (perpetuating stereotypes) than good (a few easy laughs)? Should I just lighten up and sing Genesis' "It's No Fun (Being An Illegal Alien)"?
Lily: Media use what sells. Turn on the tube, and you've got all kinds of characters some are serious, and some are funny; some are Latino, but most aren't.
A sense of humor certainly comes in handy when we make fun of our own, but I think we should be more upset when it comes to serious issues such as immigration, not so much who's on "Dancing With the Stars." Don't like it? Keep on quoting Genesis that'll win you some cool friends, for sure.
As for the personalities you mention, I'll let Danny address them below.
Danny: Lighten up. Alberto didn't really impress too many of us, Betty is make-believe and A-Rod is still a Yankee. I say we're sitting at 0-3. Still, we have made some amazing progress in '07. You're simply searching for "Latino love" in all the wrong faces.
Not one of these individuals represents YOU. Sure, they may look and claim to be the same, but each of them had a different upbringing, totally separate influences and their own choices.
You want to break the stereotype? Start with yourself. The impact you personally have on people you meet will have a longer-lasting impression than any politician or celebrity, including Guillermo. The "real" reflection of a Latino is you "el hombre o la mujer in el espejo!" (The man or women in the mirror!)
Catherine: Like Lily said, media affect every aspect of our culture. Unfortunately, media are more concerned with revenue and the bottom line, which are not always in the best interest of a particular culture.
Shock value and cheap jokes often make the most money. So some TV show character represents a limited segment of Latinos, and suddenly America accepts this as the widespread norm.The effects of media will always be sources of frustration. But sometimes media can be used to make a difference in our society. Here we are in a newspaper and online talking about the limited view of Latinos. Your letter highlighting stereotypes is a good start to questioning the messages sent out by the media and accepted by society. Thank you.
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Dist. by Universal Press Syndicate