Do you ever feel like you don’t see enough Latinos in TV and movies? Have you ever felt like the Latino characters you do see are often stereotyped negatively? A new report confirms that many Latinos are not alone in feeling stereotyped and underrepresented on TV and film screens. The ”Latino Media Gap” report conducted by Columbia University delves into the lack of media representation of Latinos as well as highlight the fact that this dilemma endangers society with the possibility of causing long-term damage to American Latinos.
The study took a close look at the number of Latinos in front and behind the scenes in both TV film. The study points out the following key findings.
Latino talent in major movies and television is less than two percent and not increasing anywhere near the rate of the rise of the U.S. Latino population
The study done in 2014 points out how Latinos make up 17% of the US population and surprisingly make up almost half of the population in Los Angeles, home to Hollywood. From the years 2010-2050 Latinos have the fastest projected growth in population. Despite these numbers, from 2010-2013 the percentage of writer, producer, and director positions held by Latinos in Network TV never reached up to 6%. This indicates that the majority of what is on television does not account for the current marginalization of Latino talent or stories. The report states that the Latino media exclusion is equivalent to the exclusion of more than the entire states of California and Illinois from American media culture.
Latino stereotypes are extremely prevalent in mainstream media
Latinos are typically cast as unfavorable characters. The principal investigator spearheading the report was, Frances Negrón-Muntaner a filmmaker, writer, and scholar. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Negrón-Muntaner stated that, “People largely imagine themselves and their relationship to others according to the stories circulating in the public sphere; they also act according to the information provided through news outlets. So, if Latinos are not part of the story and the information available is limited and biased, this has at least two major consequences. One, many Latinos will internalize that they are not valuable human beings, leading to diminished aspirations and wasted potential. Two, many non-Latinos will also incorporate these ideas and feel that they have a license to marginalize and even physically harm Latinos. Either way, we all lose.” The news also contributes to the misrepresentation of Latinos, according to the study, “stories about Latinos constitute less than 1% of news media coverage, and the majority of these stories feature Latinos as lawbreakers.”
Latinos audiences expand viewership
According to Columbia’s study, if US Latinos constituted a nation it would be the 14th largest economy in the world. Latinos buy 25% of all movie tickets) to watch cable and other types of programming to only view negative representations of themselves.
Representation of Latinos is important.
These stereotypes pose as a huge problem in our society due to the fact that these representations often set the foundation how the general U.S. population perceives the Latino community. People who may not know any Latinos are therefore susceptible to believing that all Latinos embody a negative stereotype that is manifested in the media. Negrón-Muntaner told the Huffington Post that the study highlights “ a growing and profound disconnect between the characters you see on screens and TV, and who is sitting next to you on the bus, teaching your children how to read or coming to your rescue in case of a fire.”
Latinos can ignite change through social media
As a solution to this dilemma, the study suggests that Latino consumer pressure can be effective when it comes to demanding new representations in the media.
Latinos are needed for new media production
Due to the lack of diversity of industry executives, there are stories that are not being told as well as people that are not being represented as they should. According to the study, there were no Latinos who were serving as studio heads, network presidents, CEOs, or owners.