May 19, 2008

Racist Chihuahua trailer

Below is the trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Disney's upcoming comedy. It's due to be released in September. Let's hope the movie isn't as bad as the trailer, because the trailer is bad.

How bad is it?

Imagine dressing up Jews or Africans as small, annoying animals. You probably can't imagine it because that kind of racist stereotyping hasn't happened in decades. And yet, Indians continue to suffer this fate. From the Go-Go Gophers to children's picture books to the latest Disney release, they get portrayed as critters.

And not even as lions or tigers or bears. Oh my, no. Your typical Indian-style animals are cute little toys or pets. Since "everyone knows" Indians were uncivilized, it's okay to portray them as teddy bears or bunnies or Chihuahuas.

What's going on here? For the last couple of years, we've seen stereotype after stereotype of Central and South American Indians. In the movies: Apocalypto, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Ruins, Aztec Rex, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. On TV: The Zagar commercials, The Emperor's New School. And in video games: Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs, Aztecs: Empire Of The Dying Sun.

Do studios not realize that the descendants of these people still live? That they don't appreciate being compared to rat-like dogs? That a bunch of clown-like Chihuahuas is an insult, not an honor?

This isn't the first time it's happened, either. You may recall this incident--Chihuahuas Dressed as Indians--from March. What is it with people portraying Mexican Indians as dogs?

I can just imagine the cogs turning in the simpleminded heads that came up with this idea. "Indians are a separate race of quaint and colorful beings. They dance and prance, yip and yowl, and we can't quite understand them. Hey, they're just like Chihuahuas. How clever it would be to represent one with the other."

I don't see any trailers portraying white people as Chihuahuas (or pigs, or monkeys, or...). Therefore, I conclude this video is racist. And please, don't waste my time saying "It's just a movie" or "It's supposed to be funny." People have used these excuses to stereotype people for decades, if not centuries.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Official Trailer)

P.S. Thanks to correspondent DMarks for bringing this to my attention.


Anonymous said...

Wow I am thoroughly shocked.

Anonymous said...

I have 6 of these dogs. Chico, Cha-cha, CJ (Chico JR.), Casper, Teeny, and Java. They don't think this movie is racist at all. Yes, my dogs talk to me.

Although they are from a Latin bloodline, they were born and raised on the Navajo Nation and only speak Navajo. They have been assimilated into Navajo culture and deprived of their cultural heritage their entire life....they are....Rez Dogs.

El Hombre said...

Hey Man, lighten up. Is life really that bad?

Rob said...

Hey, Hombre, I think I covered the "lighten up" argument when I wrote, "Please, don't waste my time saying 'It's just a movie' or 'It's supposed to be funny.' People have used these excuses to stereotype people for decades, if not centuries."

Rob said...

One correspondent wrote:

Sorry but I don't agree based on the trailer--they appear to be dogs with the Aztec culture (and chicano accents), just like the Kung-Fu Panda is "Asian" since pandas come from Asia. In plenty of films they have animals acting representatively of their culture--NY accents etc. I think it looks stupid but not racist, anymore than having James Earl Jones be the voice of the Lion King since he's black and blacks come from Africa.

To which I responded:

1) Most movies of this type caricature a few people or everyone. They don't selectively target one and only one race.

2) Unlike a Chihuahua, a panda is reasonably big and brawny. If the trailer portrayed Indians as, say, jaguars, it might not be so offensive.

Anonymous said...

While agree that this movie looks incredibly stupid (i work at a video store...ive seen the trailer at least a hundred times) i don't think that it is trying to be stereotypical of anyone. It's not saying that ALL natives of central/south america are like chihuahuas... they are assuming that all chihuahuas would have a chicano accent because that is where their breed originates. (like a kangaroo with an Australian accent.)

I have not seen the movie, so i cant say for sure, but I think the only real crime committed here is the asinine garbage that corporate america is forcing on our youth. I personally have more of a problem with the movie glorifying beverly hills elitism.

the concept for the movie was probably derived from the resent increase in chihuahua popularity spurred by airheads like paris hilton. This movie will probably cause thousands of little kids to beg there parents for little dogs which will subsequently be neglected and forgotten once the movie hype dies down. Sounds like a lot of chihuahua dookie to me.

Rob said...

I think it's stereotypical whether it's trying to be or not, Ashley.

For more on the subject, see Chihuahuas, Lions, and Pandas.