Oh, Bill Maher.
While everyone you cater to is applauding your latest “Oh the Places You’ll Go…And Get Kicked Out Of!” skit, when we finally caught it, there was something about it that made it feel a bit too patronizing, insulting and stale. What the Huff Post called an “epic Dr. Seuss parody,” we just call lazy-ass comedy writing. Watch. See if you can figure out why.
So what’s the problem here? Here are just a few reasons (we could just imagine the Maher’s pitch meeting when the writers were coming up with this one):
- Really, a sombrero with sarape? Where have we seen that one before? Right, because everyone in Latin America comes from some Disney’s “It’s a Small World” Mexico section. Maher’s little bit is just as bad when it comes to stereotypes as the FOX News crew who thought everyone in Central America “grew up” on tacos. Getting all the laughs because you know… that’s how these little brown kids look like.
- Imagine a fictional Maher writing team conversation: Where do all these Latinos go to now? Miami! Chicago! And they live with big families! They don’t speak English!
- Of course, all these kids have dreams of being dishwashers at a high-end New York City restaurant. Our bad. Everyone have a laugh!
But hey, Maher is progressive and making fun of the neo-nativists, right, so we should just calm down a bit and chill. It’s a joke.
That’s the problem with the piece: we really don’t think that Maher and his team have their heart into it. Sure, there are plenty of funny immigrant haters out there and they should be called out, but Maher’s White Savior complex misses the mark.
It only perpetuates the same clownish stereotypes that view Latin America as backward and foreign and “not from here.” In essence, by promoting those images and using language to mock one of the most stale and racist misperceptions about Latin American —and more specifically— Mexican immigrants, Maher is ironically feeding into the same type of anti-Latin American racism that has been an ugly part of this country’s fabric for centuries.
Long live HBO’s White Savior.
Maybe Maher thinks that type of imagery and narrative is hilarious. But it is obvious that he and his creative team are not being challenged when it comes to their comedy and portrayals of Latin American immigrants or about the real plight of these Central American children. Is it because (shocking, just shocking!) Maher’s writing staff —to put it mildly— ain’t really that diverse? But you know how progressive these shows are, right?
Could it also be that when it comes to Latin@ guests on Maher’s show, they are very few and very far between? See how many you can find on the list. Hint: it’s not that many and it’s pretty pathetic. In fact, for the 2014 season alone? Just one.
Spare us the lazy jokes, Bill. They’re not helping.