Hispanic/ Latino Trope

What comes to your mind when you think of Hispanic/Latino culture and people? Some may think of the spicy food, tacos or quesadillas. Perhaps the appearances: sombrero hats, colorful ponchos, and mustaches. Or maybe even jobs, like Mexican restaurant employees and housekeepers. The portrayal of Hispanic people and culture in the media today greatly overgeneralizes such a vastly diverse history. In the three mediums below, I will explore different ways in which this trope is executed and how it affects the mass media today.

Example 1:


This cover of the magazine, The Economist, depicts the American flag with red peppers for the stripes. This publication includes an article titled, “A Special Report on America’s Latinos.” Red peppers are a symbol that is often associated with Hispanic or Latino culture. This cover is doing a play on the typical American flag by replacing the stripes with peppers and the stars with denim patches. Both of which are very commonly associated with hispanic culture. The trope being displayed in this photo is further connecting hispanic people to certain foods and ingredients. The words “Firing up America” place an emphasis on what people believe all hispanics love spicy food. However, this connection is a broad overgeneralization.  According to NBC News, Mexican- Americans were furious as this issue’s cover reduces the vast heritage of their culture down to a single food: chili peppers. Calling this special “Latino Edition” “ugly and racist” (Latino Fired Up Over “Economist” Chile Peppers Miss Point, NBC News). The Economist is buying into offensive stereotypes. This is the equivalent of undermining America’s vast culture, history, and diversity to something as simple as a cheeseburger. The purpose of this cover was to do a play on words of the “firing up” America with the red chili peppers; in addition to the report on Hispanic Americans.


During WW2, the United States released many propaganda posters in order to appeal to the Hispanic and Latin American communities. The purpose was to inspire a united front against the Axis powers. Pictured, you can see a man’s hand dressed in stars and stripes and another man’s hand dressed in browns and leather. The classic Mexican sombrero and brown, almost cowboy like clothing is oftentimes associated with hispanic culture. While the purpose may have been to add authenticity to genuineness to the poster, it is really a broad overgeneralization of hispanic culture and what they typically wear. Reducing a complex history of clothing and culture into a sombrero/ cowboy hat is unrealistic. This photo places emphasis on the hispanic cowboy trope by including stereotypical clothing items and details. This image could be interpreted by associating all Hispanic-Americans with such clothing.


Lastly, the character from the animated sitcom TV series, Family Guy, is another great example of stereotypical Hispanic women. Consuela is an immigrant from Mexico who is the family cleaning lady. She can only say one word: no. Hispanics are repeatedly stereotyped as non-English speaking, brainless housekeepers. The fact that she is only able to say one word is the most inhumane feature of the character as a whole. They are denying her the right to speak for herself. This stereotype perpetuates the trope that all Latina women are maids, most speak broken English, and all in all, do not contribute much to American society. The issue is that, in this series, a “normal” family finds her ignorant, annoying, and mindless. In addition, the way she looks is also part of the stereotype. The fact that she is overweight with short black hair is also a major part of the classic Hispanic housekeeper trope. It is common for Hispanics to be generalized as lazy and not in shape. It is common to see people of ethnic descent to be doing menial labor. Family Guy is perpetuating and encouraging such an idea by including it in their show. Viewers interpret this character as being lazy and mindless and therefore connecting that to the trope associated with such subjects.

Sources Cited:

National Archives and Records Administration. (n.d.). Researching World War II Spanish posters at the National Archives. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.archives.gov/calendar/event/researching-world-war-ii-spanish-posters-at-the-national-archives

The Economist Newspaper. (n.d.). How to fire up America. The Economist. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.economist.com/leaders/2015/03/12/how-to-fire-up-america

NBCUniversal News Group. (2015, June 11). Op-ed: Latino fury on “Economist” cover misses point. NBCNews.com. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/op-ed-latino-outrage-economist-chili-pepper-cover-misses-point-n324861