“Shackles of Sex: Stereotypes of Latinas in Film and Media” is a short documentary created and directed by Jessica Beltran. It concerns the problem of Latina stereotypes in the media. Beltran singles out the “spitfire,” the “female clown,” and the “dark lady,” as three prevalent Latina stereotypes, and argues that these stereotypes are characterized by negative traits such as hypersexualisation, lack of education or intelligence, and laziness. For Beltran, these stereotypes are problematic as they are negative representations with no actual basis in reality, and they are limiting to Latina actors and Latina women generally. In response to these problems, the documentary suggests that Latinas would like to see themselves reflected in the media through new stereotypes – as intelligent, heroes, bankers, educated. In order to achieve this change, it is suggested that viewers boycott networks they find offensive, as well as learn to be critical viewers of media.
Name some Latina actors and celebrities and think of the roles they have played in films and other productions. Do you find the stereotypes listed in this film applicable? Are there other stereotypes of Latinas you can think of?
This film focusses on Latinas (women). Do you think the same arguments can be made about Latino men in film and media? How might the issues be the same and different?
How is the film making an argument? Is the project of challenging media stereotypes solely a fight for the Latino community? Should other members of the community get involved?
Do you think critical viewing can help combat these types of stereotypes? Why? Why not? Are there any other strategies that might work to challenge media stereotypes like these?