Latino in America: The Horror Movie?

OK, tell me that this CNN promo does not sound just a little bit like the trailer for a horror movie:

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The first time I saw this ad, I was sitting on the couch with my roomate. “Oh my God,” she said, “I can’t believe how racist that sounded.”

However comprehensive and well-done the actual program may be, I can’t help thinking that this promo makes Latinos sound kind of like aliens in some 1950s horror flick coming to take over the country. Like they’re about to crawl in through the windows during Thanksgiving dinner or something.




Why do they have to make it sound so scary? “It made it sound like an outtake from the grindhouse movie,” said Arturo Garcia, who reviewed the program in this week’s Addicted to Race podcast. “They’re coming, they’re in your neighborhoods.”

Now I know part of it is just the way media works, the way everything needs to be made into a story, with urgency and drama and all the rest. But I think promos like this can be damaging in a very real way. “Forget keeping up with the Joneses,” the voice-over says. “You better keep up with the Garcias.” And to me this implies that the intended audience for the promo is exclusively non-Latinos—or, in other words, the “majority” that’s going to become the “minority.” And it establishes a sort of us vs. them mentality. The majority vs. the minority. The Joneses vs. the Garcias. And worst of all, I think it makes people feel defensive and panicky, like the influx of Latino immigrants is something they have to prepare themselves for.

I know, I know, it’s just a promo. It’s only 30 seconds. But I do feel like the repetition of these ideas over and over makes people afraid, and makes it even harder to embrace the diverse mix of cultures that make up this country.

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