Last Friday evening I was at the movies with my wife. We were enjoying our popcorn while watching the upcoming attractions, when we were suddenly overcome with total disgust. The trailer for Jennifer Garner’s new movie, Peppermint, was played.
The run-of-the-mill premise consists of Garner’s character seeking revenge for her family’s demise at the hands of criminals. Guess who the killers happen to be? The “bad hombres,” taken right out of Trump’s racist playbook.
We sat there enraged that Hollywood, that Jennifer Garner, would make such a movie filled with these Latino stereotypes, especially against the backdrop of child separations at the Mexican border and the racist rhetoric that paints all Latino immigrants as gang members. We wondered if anyone else in the audience felt this way, and it did seem that there were many who felt uncomfortable at this overtly racist movie trailer.
After we left the theatre, we researched the movie and even though it hasn’t been released yet, other people, including Latinos, who saw the trailer were also disturbed by it. An article in The Lily by Monica Castillo stated, “After watching the trailer, I was convinced this movie bought into the political rhetoric that conflates gang members with law-abiding immigrants.” In other words, this movie reinforces Trump’s racist argument which categorizes all illegal immigrants as criminals.
I am not naïve—these stereotypical portrayals have existed in the movie business since the very founding of Hollywood. It is a tradition that is still going strong. In fact, Hollywood has been and continues to be the main apparatus used in our society to promote stereotypes. They may have not invented them but they have perfected them.
So I’ve never bought into the notion that Hollywood is liberal. How could they be, after steadfastly promoting stereotypes generation after generation and keeping their industry devoid of the diversity that actually exists in our society. Some of them do have liberal views, but these folks are not liberal enough to demand that their industry end their stereotyping of minorities, and to start diversifying their ranks. This has never been on their “liberal” radar. They live in ivory towers and either have no idea how the other 99% live or are too comfortable to disrupt their lives to really make a difference.
Unfortunately, there’s another movie this summer that similarly plays up to Trump’s negative views about Latinos. It is the extremely violent and destructive Sicario 2. I watched the first Sicario on Netflix and was dismayed at how negatively Mexicans were depicted, they were portrayed as depraved murderers without a heart or conscience, once again, as animals. I did not enjoy the film whatsoever and will not be giving my hard-earned money to Sicario 2.
One of The Guardian’s movie critics gave Sicario 2 five stars while apathetically stating this, “But this film is no bleeding-heart liberal manifesto. It is tactlessly about just that Latino gangbanger-migrant connection that the Trump administration seek to exploit and amplify at every opportunity.”
This person obviously saw nothing wrong with the movie promoting these horrific stereotypes. I’m sure that this must not have any effect on his own daily life. I’ve taken note that this critic seems to enjoy movies that thumb their noses at liberals. If it’s right-wing propaganda, he’ll promote it uncritically by giving it his thumbs up. Not much of a “critic” in my book.
It is a big shame to see the talented actor Benicio Del Toro use his talents for such a violent and immoral movie. Del Toro is one of the main characters. I’m sure if he’d refuse to continue to partake in such a negative and stereotypical storyline, this franchise would come to its end. In my opinion, he can do much better. He could choose movies that have a much more complex, positive and passionate message, particularly if it involves Latino characters.
The release of these two movies in this dark time in our country’s history is downright irresponsible. For all of us who are vehemently against Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies, we must boycott all of these movies that portray Latinos as “animals,” the way Trump and his supporters like to see them.
There’s just too much at stake to simply accept Hollywood “liberals” working their “movie magic.”
Business as usual.
Alejandro Diaz was born and raised in Chicago and he now lives in Los Angeles with his wife. He holds a MFA in Screenwriting from the University of Miami and a BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has written extensively on culture, politics, and the American workplace. Alejandro is currently working on his memoir, which recounts his own family’s Chicago immigrant experience. He has also just written “Becoming an Enlightened Manager: Managing with Humanity. Creating a Respectful, Dignified, Just, and Successful Workplace,” where he uses his personal experiences to show the value of true respect in a company’s daily work environment.