Breaking the Mold: examining stereotypes in Hispanic representation within film and media

February 22, 2024 /

By Sofia Gonzalez

 Hispanic Representation in the media is significant, but a lot of times it’s stereotypical and when it comes to Hispanic representation in media and films, this Cesar Chavez quote comes to mind: “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” 

I agree with him because recently, when Hispanic actors appear in films, they are usually lazy, or thieves. Conversely, wealthy and stable characters are usually white. Black actors are usually criminals. 

Is that what filmmakers always assume about us? If so they are completely wrong because my parents have worked all their lives and they are not lazy at all. They are nothing close to lazy they’re the complete opposite; they are such hard workers and it is all to provide for me and my siblings.

Matthew Munro, a staff worker at McFarland High School said he believes that people are stereotyped in films because it’s easy to play upon, such as typecasting a female as a damsel in distress and the male being a strong leader.

“In college, I got to take a women’s study class. It was all about how women are represented in film and one thing that I went into that class thinking was that the film industry has a very particular way of representing women and that class helped me to see that at the end of the day everybody every minority group — whether you be a female whether you be Hispanic whether you be black whether you be white whether you be a male — it doesn’t matter,” stated Munro. “Everybody is categorized into sub-categories and is represented in a specific way in film. I think that people are misrepresented. I think that it’s too easy to put a broad frame of understanding of what people are, so when they say something like the Mexican person  is always going to be the thief or criminal that’s not fair it’s not a good way to represent somebody because everybody is different.”

McFarland High School junior Dulce Frias was also asked her opinion on the portrayal of minorities and Hispanics in films to which she responded that she thinks it’s a negative thing to do because when people see that on the screen, they go straight to assuming that’s how they all act. Frias went on to comment that she believes film directors do this to create problems and conflict and she wishes it would change.

“I see many positive things about being a Hispanic myself and being from this community. I think the most important thing is being able to relate to my students because we have so many similarities,” said Maribel Bujanda Fernandez, another McFarland High School employee. “I come from this small community — growing up here and living here my whole life. I’m very connected with the families, everything these kids experienced I have experienced too it’s nice to be able to make that connection with them and to let them know that we are positive role models for the students here. If one of us was able to make it we could all make it and we can all  hold ourselves accountable for being successful and doing the right things because one thing I always tell the students is I know their parents always want them to be successful.”