Unwarranted Stereotypes in TV and Film

In the wake of Halloween, a day in which every year without fail, there are people who dress up in offensive and insensitive costumes, it seems necessary for me to address offensive cultural stereotypes that are ever-present in popular media today. In previous decades and in the present day, films and television shows have portrayed racial minorities in stereotypical manners that have in turn, had consequences both politically and socially for minority populations in the U.S.

The portrayal of minorities in film was a lot worse decades ago, with minorities being portrayed in ridiculous manners by actors who were not even part of the culture they were dressing up as, through things like blackface, yellowface and other cultural appropriations. However, while today such tactics are deeply frowned upon in Hollywood, the film industry has still yet to truly progress in their portrayal of minority characters in film and T.V.

Latinos are still portrayed in stereotypical manners. It is not uncommon for Latinos to be made a mockery of, be played as having heavy accents for a “comedic” effect, be portrayed as simple-minded gardeners, or be depicted as “dumb,” such as in the popular movie “Nacho Libre.” A common stereotype that Latina actresses tend to be locked into are roles as obedient and one-dimensional house maids, or the role of a sex vixen. Other common stereotypes include being depicted as “Latin lovers,” a “cholo” who is involved in drugs and gang violence, an undocumented immigrant, or be wearing a sombrero and a poncho as Mariachi music plays in the background.

All of these stereotypes have been a disservice to the Latino community, as the popularization of such TV shows and films that portray Latinos in a one-dimensional manner serves to fuel the biases and misconceptions that non-Latinos have of the Latino culture. These stereotypes are deeply rooted in the psyche of many people, and serve to form prejudices in the minds of many. But the Latino community are not the only ones to be depicted in such a stereotypical manner, as many other races and ethnicities have had to deal with the same thing.

The portrayal of Native Americans have also been deeply damaging to the Native American community. Being depicted as “savages” or alcoholics, among many other things, has served to construct a deeply misguided perception that a lot of people have of the community. The Muslim population also has dealt with stereotypical portrayals of their community in popular Hollywood films, which has added to the deep prejudice that is unfortunately ever-present in the U.S. today. Asian Americans and African Americans have also dealt with being portrayed in stereotypical manners.

Thus, it is important that when we watch films and TV shows, we understand that the way certain minority communities are portrayed is more often than not, an inaccurate representation that draws on deeply-damaging and incorrect stereotypes crafted from many years of historical prejudice, racism and political scapegoating.

Featured Image retrieved from here.

Hollywood’s Infamous “Casting Couch”

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s Hollywood scandal, I think it is important to shed light on how common such cases of sexual assault are in this industry. Hollywood, in fact, has a long history with this kind of behavior, which is why the idea of the “casting couch” has long been associated with Hollywood. This dichotomy between young women who are trying to make it in a deeply competitive industry, and powerful, wealthy studio executives and Hollywood elite in general has long plagued show business.

Darryl F. Zannuck, who was a major Hollywood producer and studio head during the ’30s, popularized this concept, as he was notorious for taking young aspiring actresses to his couch. It was reported that he would take women to his office on a consistent basis during his time at Fox Century City. It is reported that Old Hollywood stars Natalie Wood and Joan Crawford, who charmed audiences with their movies and demeanors, had experiences with other producers and the infamous casting couch in order to land movie roles and advance their film careers.

In more recent times, a number of actresses have revealed their experiences with the casting couch and offers that they have received from powerful Hollywood elite. Actresses Megan Fox, Charlize Theron, and Lisa Rinna have described instances in where they were pressured by producers and key players in Hollywood, who tried to lure them into the bedroom. Actress Kate Beckinsale describes how she was only 17 years old when Harvey Weinstein invited her to his room at the Savoy Hotel and met her wearing only a bathrobe, a tactic that is all too familiar to Weinstein’s victims.

Not only are women on the receiving end of the perverse amount of sexual assault that goes in Hollywood, but men are as well. And not only this, but allegations of ongoing pedophilia within the industry on behalf of powerful producers and studio executives are rampant. Thus, it is clear that there is a problem within this industry.

The fact that so many people stayed silent on Harvey Weinstein when what he was doing was well known perpetuates the idea that sexual assault is a normal part of the Hollywood culture. And, this of course does not apply only to Hollywood, as sexual assault is frequent in many other workplaces. For example, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, both of Fox News, were fired because they sexually assaulted women. Politicians like Bob Filner and Arnold Schwarzenegger assaulted women. And then, there is the infamous Bill Cosby, who would drug and rape his victims.

Thus, there is obviously a problem within workplaces and American society in general. Far too many times, people in positions of power use that to take advantage of their victims and render them silent. The looming threat of victims losing their job, not being believed or being ostracized from certain segments of society all too often keep victims from speaking out against their abusers.

Featured Image: retrieved from here