Autostraddle, a leftist, feminist blog with an audience of “kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies,” has just been forced to issue an apology by their readership for publishing a positive review about the new Seth Rogen movie, Sausage Party, because apparently the lesbian, hispanic taco in the film was a racist stereotype.
In a 2600 word mea culpa, Heather Hogan, a senior editor at Autostraddle, apologized to anyone who was offended by the review. In the article titled “We Messed Up,” Hogan explained the “problematic decisions” that led to the review being published in the first place. A chat log from the work application Slack revealed that the opinion of the freelance reviewer who wrote the piece, with the headline of “Salma Hayek Is a Surprisingly Endearing Lesbian Taco in ‘Sausage Party’,” thought that because the stereotypes were so overblown, it was actually a “nuanced and sweet… allegory about theology and faith.”
Given that the reviewer focused on a Latino character, it is not surprising that the first concern of Autostraddle’s CEO, Marie “Riese” Bernard, was whether they were white or not. For leftist publications, it seems one can only have an opinion of a societal subgroup if somebody who fits into that category agrees with you. Following this pattern, the review was passed onto Yvonne Marquez, just to be certain nobody of Hispanic origin could be offended. Hogan went on to say she makes “sure the opinions voiced by our white writers [are] in line with the voices of black writers.”
It seems that the team are really dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming space for all of their readers. In the Slack logs, Hogan posted that she hopes “it’s not transmisogynistic… [she] went through ten pages of google results and tumblr and didn’t see anything about transphobia or transmisogyny.” Discussing back and forth with Vasquez about the details, Hogan said she was “having a crisis” over the movie, but was reassured by Vasquez that the “community can critique the hell out of it and pick it apart,” and it was for “stupid fucking men” anyway, so it didn’t really matter what they posted.
Unfortunately for them, their readers were a little displeased to say the least. “We heard from Latinx readers who believe the portrayal of Salma Hayek’s taco was racist and that it reinforced harmful stereotypes,” Hogan wrote. “We heard from readers who were upset that we labeled the taco a lesbian when it seems more likely that she was bisexual. We heard from readers who questioned the consent of the sexual encounter between the taco and the hot dog bun. We heard from readers who found the taco to be a damaging portrayal of a predatory queer woman.”
Such responses were unacceptable to Hogan, apologizing profusely to her readers for failing them “as a senior editor of this website and… as an ally. I am wholly sorry for the pain and anger I caused you. I offer you no justification. I was blinded by my own whiteness existing inside a system of white supremacy. I must do better. I will do better.”
Vasquez wrote a note as well, explaining that whilst she “knew the taco was a racist caricature,” she attributed it to “a systemic problem in media that wasn’t necessarily our problem.” She went on to say that “it became our problem when we used our voice as a queer publication to write a positive review of that racist caricature and perpetuated a racist narrative for the sake of the queer representation in the film. I was wrong for not stopping this immediately, especially when it deeply effects my own people. I’m a Latina and I’m also susceptible to the racist, oppressive system we live in. I know how incredibly challenging it is to find genuine Latinx representations in media and I’m sorry I was a disservice to Latinxs by not demanding better.”
In an effort to appease their readership, Hogan detailed what they were doing to improve their editing process, including pulling reviews from white writers so black writers could write them instead, and ensuring that “any writer who shared an identity with a feature character had first dibs” on reviews. A “Diversity Inititative” was recently set up by Bernard, so they could hire and pay “more writers of color.” This was a step in the right direction for them, but of course, they could never overcome the fact that because “the majority of our senior staff is white… we make decisions based on our conditioning by white supremacy.”
Jack Hadfield is a student at the University of Warwick and a regular contributor to Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @ToryBastard_ or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.