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Hollywood, Equal Opportunity Stereotyper

April 28, 2001

Lorenza Munoz poses the question, "What if you woke up one day and every movie portrayed Americans as dumb, dirty and ignorant?" ("The Silver Screen That Divides Us, April 24).

I have woken up. And last I checked, movies like "Freddy Got Fingered," "Joe Dirt" and "Tomcats" were only some of the films to choose from that feature Americans with these qualities. And contrary to her assertion of Mexican stereotyping, the popular film "Spy Kids" features a wonderful family model that happens to be Mexican.

If Munoz goes to the movies more often, she'll learn that Hollywood exercises an "equal opportunity" policy when it comes to insulting audiences.

PAUL G. CUSCHIERI

Santa Monica

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Everything Munoz said was true--and I am glad that her editors had the courage to publish an opinion so many of us feel. I am currently a film student and I plan to make films that not only show more people of color on the screen but also display them in more then just a one-dimensional, stereotypical fashion.

CHAD MARTINEZ

Huntington Beach

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Munoz rightfully raises the question, "What if every actor was cast as the Ugly American--greedy, materialistic and arrogant?"

Unfortunately, she fails to point out that in the majority of shows and films that are shown on any of the three local Spanish-language TV stations, most of the characters are also portrayed as greedy, materialistic and arrogant! Of course, it would not have been politically correct for her to make this point.

BOB McKAY

North Hills

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I agree with Munoz regarding Hollywood's narrow portrayal of Mexico and Mexicans. The same can be said about how Hollywood views the American South and Southerners in general. With remarkably few exceptions--those exceptions usually occurring in a small number of women's roles--Southerners (particularly Southern men) are portrayed as cartoonish buffoons, bigots or eccentrics.

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Ignorance and corruption do not respect international boundaries and both reside north and south of the U.S.-Mexican border. Likewise, bigotry exists everywhere in the United States, not just the South. But if we needed proof of the existence of ignorance and bigotry here in Hollywood, all we need to do is seriously consider the treatment of all minorities--racial and otherwise--in movies and the paucity of positive characters, particularly male characters, being played by minority actors.

DAVID NEAL

Beverly Hills

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Excuse me, but I see no reason for sympathy toward the complaints of Hispanics about negative portrayals of Mexicans, Latinos, et al in Hollywood movies and other media.

The new government in Mexico has a lot of work to do to clean up the mess left by its predecessor, the Institutional Revolutionary Party dynasty. To wit:

The legal system there is Napoleonic, which holds everyone to be guilty until proven innocent.

That leads to culture-wide avoidance of the legal system and the practice of mordida, which is the systematic payment of bribes connected to just about every transaction with government and business institutions.

Every single illegal alien, from whichever country, committed a crime in the moment that they stepped across the border into the United States, for which they take no responsibility.

Rather than trying to alter the image of Mexico and Latin America, it behooves Hispanic activists to stop whining and to get to work on the reality of the Mexican culture--on both sides of the border--as President Vicente Fox is committed to doing.

G.E. NORDELL

Culver City

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Although Munoz makes a valid point about the negative portrayal of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in American films, some very recent positive portrayals should be mentioned too, notably "One Man's Hero" (1999), "Luminarias" (1999) and "What's Cooking?" (2000).

MICHAEL HAAS

Los Angeles

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