Let me start off by saying I have loved me some George Lopez over the years. His sitcom (The George Lopez Show) was a breath of fresh air. Finally, a (sort of) normal, middle class Latino family was showcased on national television without a cholo, drug dealer, maid, single mother or gangbanger in sight!
But lately, I've begun to feel like Lopez is using his Latinidad to reinforce negative stereotypes of our community and get some laughs along the way. For me, it all began with Beverly Hills Chihuahua—a movie which bastardized the history of indigenous cultures in Mexico, Central and South America in order to explain the origins of chihuahuas. When I learned today that he will produce and provide the voice for a film featuring the animated character Speedy Gonzalez, my heart sank. Ever since the "fastest mouse in Mexico" made his debut back in 1955, there have been critiques levied at the generalizations frequently made by Anglos about the Mexican culture that he embodies. Gonzalez and his compatriots, particularly the lazy, drunken cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez, have drawn the ire of Latinos for decades.
Speedy Gonzalez was one of the few Latino characters children were exposed to throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s and he was the equivalent of the Mexican Sambo. His overactive libido, huge sombrero and thick accent came to represent Mexico for generations of Americans and the damage has yet to be undone. So even though Lopez's coproducer and wife, Ann Lopez assured the Hollywood Reporter that they had taken the stereotypes into consideration: "We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s—the racist Speedy," I'm having some trouble buying it. Especially when I found out the plotline of the film:
"Speedy's going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he's a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he's good at."
So, what is Speedy's unique gift? Racecar driving of course—because that really breaks down racial stereotypes about Latinos. Sorry George, but you can do better than that.
Tell us: Would you take your children to go see a 21st century Speedy Gonzalez movie?