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Saturday, October 13, 2012

On TV and Other Demons

I hate the show Modern Family. I wish the producers were honest and started calling it "Stereotyped Family". They already have the Latina stereotype, the gay stereotype, the gay couple stereotype and my guess is as the little girl gets older they will have the little Chinese adoptee stereotype. (They may be playing up that stereotype already, but I don't regularly watch the show.)

My dislike for this show started with the very first episode of the very first season. One of the characters says something like, "Well, in Colombia.....," and Ed O' Neill's character snaps, "As you may notice by the absence of donkeys in the streets, we are not in Colombia!" Excuse me? As you may conclude by a Google image search of Bogota--or any other Colombian city fot that matter--donkeys in the streets is not one of the main attractions!

Then there's Sofia Vergara's character, which is, for me, material for a blog post all of its own, but I'll try to limit myself. Her loud, strongly-accented. and extremely sexualized portrayal of a Colombian immigrant is insulting to me in so many different levels.

To top it off, we have the little Colombian kid--the actor is pretty amazing, I will give them that--who wears guayaberas all the time. While my half Colombian boy owns two guayaberas, he doesn't wear them to school every day or when he plays soccer.

I know most people will say it's just a comedy and it's all just "good ol' fun." In fact a lot of my fellow Colombians are just elated that Sofia is making it big in Hollywood. I happen to disagree. As for Latinas making it big in the entertainment business, it just seems to me that their level success is directly proportional to bra size. Even Salma Hallek, who I credit with having a good brain inside her head, didn't start getting rolls until she apeared in a movie wearing dassy dukes and a bare navel shirt. She was referred to by one of the other characters as "the one with the body."

Furthermore, I really shouldn't expect ABC to bring me culturally enriching entertainment. Every ABC show tthat has a good plot, is well written,or has well developed characters flops before the end of its first season. Meanwhile, the bachelor will be running its 17th season.

At home my husband and I joke that TV networks just need to come to our house and show us their pilots. If we absolutely love the show, its going to be an epic failure rating-wise. But if we hate it . . . that will be a syndicated show that will run for seasons without end.

I know it all comes down to the ratings; ultimately what people will enjoy and watch. But seriously America! I'm calling upon your better sense 'cause I know you are better than this. I know you're better than the parade of reality shows the networks want to feed us. I know you have brains. You may enjoy the "good ol' fun" we have in TV these days. You may not think anything of the stereotypes because you know better. Or you may think I'm just exaggerating. But I would like to give some food for thought here with a real life example. A few months ago Sofia Vergara appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine as the best paid Latin TV actress in an issue about how Hispanics are becoming a key demographic group for companies to target with their marketing efforts. Somebody posted a comment (and he was not alone) saying that Hispanics only buy their goods at Mercados, and we can only be sold Budweiser and Doritos. Well, this person may live in a state where his only experience with Hispanics comes through TV; otherwise, he should know better. Who knows. And yes, some of my Hispanic fellows come from rural areas and feel at home at the nearest Mercado. Nothing wrong with that. I happen to enjoy little mercados and their wide variety of goods you can't find anywhere else.

We Latinos come in many different colors and nationalities, and we have multiple subcultures within our culture. So most Americans have very limited experience with that variety. If all you know about a group of people is based on what you see on TV, even if it is on the news, your knowledge is going to be extremely limited and biased. We cannot have our long overdue conversation about culture and race in America if we lack knowledge and a neutral place in which to start.

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