A recent episode of the sitcom “Modern Family” featured Colombian actor Sofia Vergara talking offensively about Peruvians. The joke / offensive comment about Peruvians was not grossly insulting, but is important to call the attention about it, because when we lose the capacity of being offended by offensive remarks, then we have a problem.
A modern family joke
"Ah, here we go," Gloria interrupts. "Because, in Colombia, we trip over goats and we kill people in the street. Do you know how offensive that is? [Is not] Like we're Peruvians!"
ABC's Modern Family cast. Photo DaemonsTV
We live in times when most of the U.S. corporate media seem not to care about offending people, as long as they can sell and make more profits. Thus, gross is humorous, rude is attractive, insulting is sexy, arrogance is attractive. This includes all media.
Today there is more violence, sexism, and hateful content in U.S. television than ever before, even if they come sugarcoated as comedy. This is affecting this nation deeply. For instance, look at the 2010 midterm elections, we are witnessing one of the most hateful and racist political campaign in the history of this young nation.
Those who watch too much "comedy" in the U.S. might have lost perspective and don’t understand why Peruvians in Peru and in the U.S. are protesting this "Modern Family" episode.
If you watch the shows in U.S. television today, and compare them with what you or your parents watched as children, then you understand the kind of society we are expecting to have in the future. This generation is growing watching unprecedented violence, sexism, disrespect, offensive media every day.
The "Modern Family" sitcom is watched by millions, many of whom are children who will now think of Peruvians in certain way. Remember, in many U.S. households the only parenting that kids get comes from TV and other media.
The writers and producers of "Modern Family" - American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and other broadcasting corporations, need to understand that the protest against its sitcom –which is supposed to promote diversity and respect of different families- is not only about Peruvians.
This is about how the U.S. people see the rest of the world, especially south of the border nations and peoples, so called Latinos but especially Mexicans. We are often portrayed so offensively by the U.S. media, in very racist and xenophobic ways sugar-coated with "comedy".
I'm sure anyone in the U.S. would be offended if a foreign TV show would portray the people of the U.S. as extremely fat, drugs and sex addicted, money obsessed, trashy media consuming people who invade countries for oil and minerls.
That would be an extreme generalization that is far from reality, but that is exactly how anti-U.S. hatred is promoted overseas.
By promoting demeaning stereotypes against certain groups, races or nationalities, ABC is planting the seeds for xenophobic hatred. Maybe they are not aware that most of the increasing anti-migrant crimes in the U.S. are committed by young criminals, who probably learned to hate Brown people after what they saw on TV.
If you add images and media content with the same messages over and over, you are promoting certain ideals and values on people, even if they are false or based on fiction.
I understand now why racism and xenophobia are currently increasing in the U.S. when I read the these comments of readers in the biggest blog in this country. It seems that people don't care about hateful media content anymore. We have become from victims into part of the problem.
For some U.S. viewers, it's now funny to make fun of the violence of other poorer countries.
Indeed, there is violence in Peru and other countries in the Americas like Mexico, but sadly many times that violence has to do with policies and actions promoted by governments, interest groups and nations like the United States. See photo included in this article.
|Photo: 2009 Bagua massacre in Peru, caused partially by U.S. trade policies.|
A friend of mine wrote in my Facebook today:
"They are setting the stage to go in and exploit Peru, [a country which] has so many minerals and resources [the U.S.] want. When you dehumanize you can go do what you like with less backlash. This is classic."This friend is a Native American activist who has worked directly with Indigenous peoples of the Amazon forest in Peru, where people are being displaced by private corporations of extractive industries, most from the U.S.
Another friend told me that people in the U.S. need to "move on from tolerance, to full acceptance" when it comes to people's differences, instead of making fun of human diversity.
People in the United States are bombarded daily with distracting media content, via idiotic entertainment, sex-addicting websites, illegal drugs consumption, violent films and violent sports. We have to be blind or dumb not to notice this. Many people are living in a bubble of denial or ignorance.
Just one example.
As one billion people -200 million are children- around the planet face hunger every day, and 16,000 kids die every day because they don't have anything to eat, the U.S. has the capacity of conducting several unjustified wars at the same time.
But, we are laughing about the rest of the world, their violence and the ways they live. Who cares, if it's funny.