America Ferrera and Eva Longoria’s stab at Hollywood had serious impact. It happened while the two were presenting at the Golden Globes last night, and if you have yet to see the 20-second clip that’s been swarming the Internet, you’re still asleep. But if this joke was instead told by, say Gael García Bernal, would we still be talking about it? Thinking about it? Watching it over and over? Probably not.
Let’s backtrack. If you are in fact sleepwalking and somehow avoided watching the actresses’ bit, they made fun of the Globes when it confused America and Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez last month during the nomination ceremony. The two approached the mic, and Eva started with: “I’m Eva Longoria, not Eva Mendes.” America followed: “Hi, I’m America Ferrera, not Gina Rodriguez.” Eva continued: “And neither of us are Rosario Dawson.” And they finished off with: “Well said, Salma” and “Thank you, Charo.”
There have been more than 40 headlines on it since. Like I said: impact.
Regardless of the Globes’ mix-up in December, if this joke was in fact told by men, it wouldn’t carry nearly as much, if any, weight. Why? Because the sad and ugly truth is that Latina stereotypes portrayed in Hollywood are reductive and much more negative than Latino stereotypes. This is something I’ve witnessed firsthand.
At Latina Magazine’s Hot List party in October, I asked celebs-male and female-to tell me the stereotypes they see about themselves in the media far too often, ones that Hollywood needs to rid of ASAP. It’s at the 50-second second mark here:
Notice: 1. The video only consists of women (which I’ll get to in a minute). 2. Some of the stereotypes they mention include:
As I said, the male responses weren’t included in the video. They said things like: dancing salsa, being suave and good in bed.
For decades, we’ve been mesmerized by the glorious accents and curvaceous bodies of actresses like Roselyn Sanchez, Salma Hayek and most recently, Sofia Vergara. But the reality is, these factors have pigeonholed these, and most Latina actresses, into always playing sex symbols. Where are the brains? The smarts? The wit?
And if they aren’t portrayed as walking sex, they’re cast in the feisty sidekicks roles, or ones with little-to-no status, economically or socially. Jennifer Lopez was literally the maid in Maid in Manhattan. In fact, Lupe Ontiveros said she’s played a maid more than 150 times. Paz Vega played the maid and struggling English-speaker in Spanglish. I could go on.
Latinos, though? They’re glorified. Portrayed as strong, fearless, dignified. Take Edward James Olmos, as the poised and dignified Admiral William Adama in Battlestar Galactica. Of course, there are the exceptions, but we all know what we’re used to seeing on the big and small screen, so let’s not sugarcoat.
Of course it’s easier to mix up women who are typecasted into the same roles over and over. And thankfully, there has been progress. But until we get more leading Latina ladies with brains and beauty and brilliant comedic timing, like Jane Villanueva in Jane the Virgin and Ana Sofia Calderon (Eva Longoria) in the upcoming Telenovela, we better hope Eva and America’s joke sticks. Hollywood execs need to get their heads out of their simple-minded asses and in reality, so these actors have a shot at portraying the multi-dimensional, strong women they actually are.