Hollywood to Latinas, part II: Shut up while we ogle you
Chalk another one up for the TV and movie industry. Not only does it unofficially sexualize Latinas more than any other ethnic and racial group, but now, the industry has done it officially and winking at its live audience — at the Emmy award show which is supposed to celebrate excellence in television, no less.
Of course it involves Sofia Vergara. We say of course, because Vergara has made her claim as a television comedic actor by embodying precisely the sexualized "Latina" stereotype pointed out in the recent Annenberg study cited in our article "Hollywood to Latinas: Shut up and get naked", and in the Emmy bit in question, she is placed on a revolving platform to be ogled as the CEO and chairman of the Television Academy goes on about the academy's meaningful impact around the world, averring that as an industry it has become "more diverse than ever before."
Years ago, Charo, another performer who fitted herself to the film and movie industry's stereotype of Latinas, was asked if it bothered her that people mostly laughed at her and what she embodied on camera. She responded that the laughter went straight to the bank, and so it is with Vergara — she is reportedly the highest paid TV actor.
But you have to wonder at the cost. Besides the sexism playing to this singular type reinforces, it effectively strips the actor of the respect of her peers. Would the Television Academy have subjected Good Wife star and Emmy winner Julianna Margulies to the pedestal treatment? Not likely. Would Margulies have been willing to do it? It strains credulity to think so.
Vergara, responding to the criticisms of the bit as sexist, has advised people to "lighten up." She has received four Emmy nominations for her role as the ditzy Gloria Pritchett in Modern Family, after all, though she hasn't won one of the trophies yet. Perhaps when she stops being content with being treated as the trophy?