My new NPR adventure: How TV stereotypes Asians and Latinos in ways black characters have overcome
Watching a CNN story on the new CBS sitcom Rob, I leaned something interesting.
Even though star and co-creator Rob Schneider married into a Latino family before he created a sitcom for CBS with the same storyline, the relatives of his wife live in Mexico and don't speak English.
Which is perhaps the best explanation for why the Latino family on CBS' Rob feels so odd. And why some of the roles are so close to classic stereotypes about Latino people.
Made me glad I'd pulled together a commentary for NPR about how network TV sitcoms feel free to stereotype Asians and Latinos in ways they don't often attempt with black characters.
It plays off a theme I've been articulating for a week or so now, looking at how gains by African Americans in challenging how black people are depicted in news stories and TV shows doesn't seem to have helped avoid similar stereotyping of Asians and Hispanics.
Through it all, I hope people remember a few things.
1) Stereotypes often aren't ugly. Instead, they can be funny, seductive and compelling. Ultimately, they explain the world in ways many people find comforting -- even some people of color. But they are also unfair and inaccurate.
2) Intent matters. There are classic shows such as All in the Family and Chappelle's Show which evoked and made fun of stereotypes. But a primary mission of both shows was to comment on prejudice, bigotry and cultural difference by lampooning stereotypes and people who believe in them. Sometimes, that's an important distinction.
3) Bringing up these issues doesn't cause problems, it solves them. Hard as it is to talk about these issues, its important to have discussions about portrayals, stereotyping and the impact of such images. Because putting issues on the table and talking about them is the only way you find deeper understanding.
The NPR piece is below: