The stereotypes that people, cultures, and even whole countries face are often the result of misrepresentation in the media. Mexico, and the dangers that are thought to be associated with the country, are no exception. This ranges from Mexican people and their cultures being misrepresented by stereotypes, harmful yellow filtering over films that take place in the country, and the one-sided articles that depict Mexico as a haven for drug cartels and crime. The media plays a crucial role in how Mexico has been misunderstood by society, through biased film editing, stereotypical roles of characters, and bigoted “news” stories.
Hollywood has continuously perpetuated the idea that Mexico is nothing more than a dry, dirty, desert wasteland. This is highlighted in how movies often revert to using dark, yellow filters over stories that are set in countries like Mexico, India, and the Middle Eastern region. For instance, the blockbuster film “Fast & Furious” utilized unflattering yellow filters over the scenes that took place in Mexico. This occurs when the main characters travel to the country to apprehend a drug trafficker, immediately characterizing it as a pitiful country. The yellow filter goes beyond just being an artistic choice, it indicates to the audience that Mexico is an inferior country, ultimately creating a threatening and depressing tone that overshadows reality.
Additionally, these scenes show no trace of the lively streets of Mexico City; they only portray the most deserted parts of the country, with its unpaved roads and dusty horizons. The culmination of the dull filtering along with criminal activity exemplifies how the media often latches onto stereotypes and portrays these biased ideas to mass audiences, creating a negative image.
Adding to the negative perception of the country through film, Latina people have faced significant stereotyping because of their substantial portrayal in the media as maids, housekeepers, and gardeners. Ada Maris, a Mexican American actor who played a maid in the Netflix series “Uncoupled,” spoke out about how her role in the show underpinned an existing stereotype and broadcast an inaccurate characterization of Mexican women in America. Her script consisted of broken English; the whole purpose of her character was to illustrate a stereotype that Mexican women are nothing more than domestic workers that are unable to speak a foreign language.
Maris emphasizes how important it is for the media to have portrayals of Mexican women that are “realistic, not hurtful.”
Instances like this are a result of internal bias that TV producers feel toward the role of Mexican women, based on the racist views that are instilled in society. By using this as a significant comedic feature of a Netflix show, the idea is further perpetuated that Mexican women are unintelligent and are only capable of working in a domestic capacity. The mocking portrayal of Mexican women as maids erases their success and undermines the difficult labor that immigrant women take on.
Netflix is a media powerhouse that reaches different audiences than a typical news platform would, yet both types of content are littered with discriminatory viewpoints that overshadow the multifaceted reality of the country and its people.
News outlets are also culpable in portraying the country in a critical and unbecoming way. An article by Independent, titled “Cartel violence is raging in Mexico – should you cancel your trip?,” unfairly uses an instance where military officers were stationed on a single beach in Mexico, as a reason for tourists to completely avoid the entire country.
The comment section in the article also features remarks such as “I feel sorry for you that you have to live in a country like this.”
This again demonstrates that by using biased approaches and one-sided stories, the media is directly responsible for influencing the negative outlook that many people have on Mexico. Rather than highlighting the unlikeliness that a tourist would ever encounter the experience of armed officers patrolling a beach, the article uses this single instance as a way to create a negative narrative about the entire country.
Society doesn’t only fall victim to media bias through one-sided headlines, but also through the underlying racial stereotypes that are embedded into every feature of pop culture, honing the next generation to have a narrow and negative worldview. When consuming such media, audiences must be able to discern when a movie or news article has a layer of bias; otherwise, the inaccurate representation of people, countries, and cultures will continue.