Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Combating Latina Negative Stereotypes on Television

Photo Credit: roniweb
Although Hispanics and Latinos now make up over 16% of the U.S. population, they remain woefully underrepresented on our country's most popular television shows. Hiispanics, especially when it comes to Latinas, featured on prime-time shows often fit narrow, stereotypical roles.

Melissa Castillo-Garsow addresses this issue:
"A 2008 study published in Human Communication Research found that Latinos continue to be hugely underrepresented on primetime television - at they time, they were 3.9% of the television population and 12.5% of the U.S.population. Latina characters were generally more likely to have the following traits than white or African-American characters: “addictively romantic”, “sensual”, “sexual” and “exotically dangerous.” 
These researchers also found that in comparison to characters of other races, Latinas were the “laziest”, “least intelligent” and most “verbally aggressive.” 
But what really bothers me about the roles of Adrian on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” Alice on “Hellcats” and Santana on “Glee,” is that these are shows marketed towards young audiences – teens and younger – who are still forming their impressions of the world. It makes me wonder who is watching, taking in and possibly acting on these stereotypes. 
Worst of all, Adrian, Alice and Santana are not stupid, or lazy, either. They are actually the cream of the crop – talented girls who excel at school, art or sports, representing real possibilities at diversifying the portrayals of Latina women in the media. Even so, they are still the sluts, still the manipulative characters that antagonize the likeable white character."
Castillo-Garsow points to America Ferrara's role in the ABC series, Ugly Betty, as an example of a stereotype breaking role for a young Latina. Ugly Betty, which left the air last year, helped to present a more complete and accurate portrayal of a Hispanic woman without overly sexualizing her or placing her in a domestic help role.

While it can be argued that some of these same stereotypes can be applied to white television characters, there is a plethora of personalities and characteristics, both positive and negative, that make up the complexity of majority culture television roles. The same can't necessarily be said for people of color. Television still has a ways to go in accurately representing the diversity that is in our country without playing to cliche and inherited stereotypes.

To read Ms. Castillo-Garsow's complete article on CNN.com please click here.


Unknown said...

These are the things I think about all the time when I watch tv..its so true.

Milton H.Camilo said...

They create these characters because they want to reinforce these stereotypes..from a young age they have Americans grow up with these preceptions and as a result they carry them well into their adulthood-thus passing it on to their children(its the cycle of preceptions).
In regards to Ugly Betty, they took every jab they could with that television show. I enjoyed the show as a Latino teen but I could not help but feel insulted....this is why discrinimination and racism are still a big issue in America.
This is the reason why many Latino young people now a days refuse to watch television.Because of the reinforcment of stereotypes!