Amigos!

Do you remember the uproar a couple of years ago when the cast of BBC’s Top Gear poked fun/insulted Mexicans in general and the Mexican ambassador in particular. One of the points I made at the time was one of context. What do we Brits know of Mexico and Mexicans? Truth is, we know very little. There’s just the stereotype. Guy in a sombrero in a desert with a donkey.  This context doesn’t of course make the jokes any more or less offensive.

It’s just as well Mexicans don’t get to see out adverts. The video I’ve embedded below is one of three I’ve noticed since I returned to the UK which plays on the Mexican stereotype. A guy, or two, in a sombrero. Donkeys. And even more unfortunately, they have a tendency to cast characters who are a little bit…ummm…backward. Simple minded. Not too well educated. Plain old daft in the head.

Mexicans will tell me that this isn’t representative of Mexico. They don’t need to tell me – I do know full well what Mexico is really like. Alas, this is brand new news for other parts of the globe, and it isn’t headline news – so not everyone is going to hear it. I will say, before anyone comments about us racist, evil, narrow minded Brits, that I have yet to visit a country where I haven’t seen the same sort of stereotype gags being made about other nations. Including Mexico.

I have mixed feelings about the use of these sort of stereotypes. Sometimes, it can be funny. Sometimes it’s stupid.  But I don’t want stupidity outlawed. We’d lose too much of the global population, which just needs trimming, not eradicating. Having said that, sometimes the stereotypes are used in ways that just perpetuate ignorance.  What can you do?

7 Comments

  • Well, the U.S. airwaves have seen their share of stereotyped daffy Brits of various social classes peddling everything from mustard to vacations to loans. Odd in a way, because Americans probably also admire the British as much as any foreigners. But we’re perfectly happy to make fun of them on TV.

    But Mexicans here enjoy a special status; any advert such as the one you posted would be drummed out of town in no time.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we do not “Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd.

    ‘Cause it’d get towed.

    • I love the American stereotyping of us Brits, perhaps because it’s so daft. Perhaps if it were closer to a sore point, we’d object! Although, maybe we wouldn’t. We’re normally pretty good at having a laugh at ourselves. Failing that, our superiority complex generally means we just can’t take any Johnny Foreigner seriously enough to take offence. We are quite the opposite of Mexicans in this regards 🙂

      Still, why do Americans think we’re all inbred nitwits? Pft. Not everyone thinks so lowly of us!

  • The best is when I am TOLD I cannot be South American because I have fair skin and light hair and of course I can’t possibly speak Spanish, and how did I learn to speak it so well? Would this be ignorance or stupidity? If I didn’t hear it with my own ears many times over I wouldn’t believe it…

    • Continuing on from the point of Brits being ignorant about Mexico….at least you aren’t Mexican and South American. A genuine conversation I have had more than once with geographically challenged Brits – which continent is Mexico in? I give them two guesses. There’s only two American continents, right?! Should be easy. South America is usually the first guess. Central America usually comes next…

  • This is an interesting coincidence. I wrote about the danger of cliché this morning. (And I almost used you an example of someone whose photography almost always arises above that level. Now I wish I had. It would have been a nice dove-tail.)

    And that is what irks me about some of these national stereotype commercials. The mouth full of pickled egg and wrestling the deck chair are old film gags from decades ago. The principals could have been from any country. Similar to that old gag told by my snobby English friends: “Why did God invent Australians? So, Americans could have someone to look down on.”

    I would prefer to see far more wit in these productions. But, like you, I do not want stupidity outlawed. After all, who would we bloggers then have to look down on?

    • I think the photographer you highlighted was the perfect choice.

      I guess we expect too much. Give a production company a tight budget, tell them the company is called Amigos, and…well…..you get what you pay for.

      (And don’t worry, amigo. The Australians aren’t at the bottom of the snobbery ladder. What do you think God invented the French for? 🙂 )

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