This post was written by a student in Susan Schuyler’s Narrative, Rhetoric, and Identity class at Stanford University. Each student in this class will complete a research-based argument related to the course topic.
As Latinos form an increasingly greater proportion of the U.S. population, their representation on television is accordingly causing greater implications in society. Latinos have been significantly underrepresented on prime time television, and still mostly occupy secondary or insignificant roles. While there have been significant advances in shows that have placed Hispanic men and women in leading roles, most notably on the shows Desperate Housewives, The George Lopez Show, and Ugly Betty, the representation of Latino characters continue to perpetuate racial stereotypes.
In my research based argument, I will look at the way in which Latinos – both men and women – are represented on prime time television, by analyzing the rhetorical strategies employed, the roles they are cast in, and hence, analyze discernible patterns. I will use this analysis to most probably argue that prime time television perpetuates Hispanic stereotypes. I will also look at the ways in which this affects both Hispanic and non-Hispanic viewers, mainly at the way in which Hispanic-Americans’ self perception is skewed by their representation on prime time TV, and on Americans’ perception of Hispanics as affected by their exposure to Latino stereotypes on prime time TV.
Clearly this subject area has vital importance in the American society, as Latinos now form the largest minority group in the United States. How can Hispanic-American men and women form healthy identities if they are constantly represented in one-dimensional or superficial ways that skew their true, complex identities? Equally important, how can they be taken seriously in a society that forms a perception of them based on the stereotypes they see on TV? These are the societal implications that will shape the focus of my argument.
Isabella Sanchez (Stanford University)