Posted on | November 5, 2010 | 4 Comments
There’s been a big brouhaha lately over a comment made on the US sitcom, “Modern Family”. I for one am a big fan of the show – I love how it has characters that are complete stereotypes, yet gives them personality and depth so that they don’t seem stereotypical. And instead of lampooning the characters for their stereotype, the writers make them lovable while still pointing out some very distinct flaws.
One of the characters is Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara. Gloria is a stereotypical ‘hot Latin woman’, married to a wealthier older white male (played by Ed O’Neill, better known to many as Al Bundy). Their relationship itself is a stereotype – and one which I see played out by many here in Peru.
The character of Gloria – like Vergara herself – comes from Colombia. The show often makes jokes about that fact, and portrays Colombia as a dangerous place with goats in the street and rampant crime. Why? Because it’s mocking the way that most Americans see South American countries. It’s satire – the use of irony or sarcasm to point out flaws or vices. Much like Archie Bunker in “All in the Family”, people on “Modern Family” say things that are sometimes incredibly stupid and offensive – not to offend, but to point a finger at just how stupid or offensive it is.
Which brings us to Gloria’s comment:
I’m not really surprised that Peruvians have taken offense. The use of sarcasm and irony isn’t really a big part of comedy in a cultural sense, they tend to go more for puns and slapstick – jokes that are more literal. I personally have a darker, more sarcastic sense of humor – and my Peruvian family never gets my jokes. I swear, I was funny in the US! My 13 year old often tells me my jokes are too nerdy – you have to think too much to get it, and after all that thinking, it’s just not funny anymore.
However, I think it’s unfair for people to jump on this “racist” bandwagon. The show was not insulting Peruvians – it was a satirical comment, mocking the character of Gloria, and pointing out a huge flaw – she decries the stereotyping of Colombia, yet in the same sentence, does it to Peru! It was a way of saying “Look, people – do you see how stupid this is?”
Another thing I’d like to mention about this – all the news stories talking about how Peruvians are upset, and the whole country is offended. I doubt one out of a hundred Peruvians have any idea about this whole situation. The people here are too busy to worry about the comments of an actress in the US on a show most of them have never heard of, let alone seen.
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