Consuela: A Harmful Stereotype

The video representation of Latinos/Mexicans in the media is one we don’t pay much attention to. When watching a show like Family Guy, we laugh at the way it makes fun of all cultures and people for our entertainment. The maid in Family Guy is named Consuela. She is portrayed as a Latina housemaid, someone who speaks very broken English. Consuela is shown most times on the show walking around with a bottle of Windex in her hand, spraying everything around her. When asked to complete a task, she is shown as looking at the speaker in an uninterested way. This odious portrayal of immigrants in the show implies that latinas will work as housemaids. The representation of latinas in Family Guy shows the stereotypes surrounding female immigrants. Consuela calls everyone on the show “Misser”, her own pronunciation for the word “Mister”, regardless of gender.

Despite showing the harsh reality for some immigrants, it groups all latino/mexicans into a group who work in the hospitality-labor category. Her character in the show is constantly cleaning. In one episode, while visiting her son, Rodrigo, at the correctional facility, Consuela has a bottle of Windex and cleans the glass separating her from her son. In a moment which is supposed to be reserved for comforting words, she is shown as a stereotypical maid. In the episode link attached, Peter Griffin, the main character in the show is using the restroom and looking through a magazine. He starts to groan while Consuela vacuums outside the bathroom, getting annoyed at the noise despite the fact that she is doing her job. She is then shown opening the door while Peter is still in there, as if she cannot comprehend the fact that she should not open the door while the restroom is occupied. Peter asks her to leave. After leaving, Consuela opens the door again and is holding a lamp asking, “This trash?”. Peter replies that it’s a function lamp to which Consuela replies, “Is okay, I take home.” Again, the oblivious stereotypical portrayal of latino/hispanic immigrants is seen by millions across world. She is shown as someone who will steal the lamp even though Peter told her it works. Throughout the show, all latino/mexicans are constantly shown as working for white American employers. Each time, they are shown as being “below” all other races on the show. Her general demeanor on the show could also be seen as her refusal to play by the rules of the culture which oppresses her, in this case, white Americans. She is always saying, “Noooooooo” for most things she is asked. The lack of intelligent latino/mexican characters on the show portrays them in a bad light.

For some immigrants, this is the reality of life in the US and even here, in the Bay Area. They are ridiculed for doing janitorial jobs or being in the hospitality or labor industry. We need to remember that every person living in America was once an immigrant instead if making fun of them in media, not once, not twice, but a countless number of times. We should be empowering one another in any way possible instead of pushing them further down the ladder by addressing issues like improper workplace treatment for undocumented latino/mexicans. Our research in the Mission District will make us more aware of ways we can help to empower these immigrants and become informed of ways to break these stereotypes.

References:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/11/stereotypes-in-animated-sitcoms/

http://www.juanofwords.com/2012/01/ay-ay-ay-consuela-should-we-love-her-or-hate-her/

-Maryam Naseem (Media Representation)

Originally published on Sept. 26th, 2015

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