Far-left Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) launched a scathing rebuke of Hollywood and the film industry on Monday, declaring the need for a “reckon[ing] with its systemic injustice and exclusion of our communities.”
In a guest column for Variety magazine entitled “Latinos Love Hollywood, but Hollywood Hates Latinos,” Castro points out the fact that Hispanic actors are indeed underrepresented in film. The Texas Democrat also accuses the industry of casting and depicting Latinos as negative stereotypes, particularly people who are criminals or angry antagonists.
The entertainment industry is the main narrative-creating and image-defining institution of American society. Unfortunately, Latinos are often depicted as stereotypes, if we’re represented at all. A study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that Latinos had a speaking role in less than 5% of movies. Of these characters, nearly 50% were criminals or “angry.” These negative depictions are often the only images that millions of Americans see. Even when positive stories do get told, they are often overlooked by the awards shows that could encourage more production. Let’s not forget: Generations of Latino actors have felt forced to change their name, even their appearance, to be included in roles, forfeiting their heritage and robbing our community of role models and dreams of being seen on-screen.
Castro went on to argue that the situation is so serious that it needs a form of government intervention, complaining how the industry is already subsidized by taxpayer dollars:
At the heart of this failure of representation is the lack of diversity in the industry, especially among those in positions of creative authority, such as writers, producers, directors and executives. Latinos prop up Hollywood economically, accounting for nearly one in four of all box office ticket sales, but they account for a mere 4% of directors and 3% of producers. This cannot be an accident in a city like Los Angeles, where Latinos are nearly half the population.
Hollywood is in effect a redlined industry, generating wealth and opportunity for the handful of conglomerates who run it while excluding the hardworking Latinos who live all around it. The case for government intervention is clear: Hollywood is failing to include Latinos on its own, meriting increased scrutiny from community leaders and elected officials. Taxpayer dollars flowing to an exclusionary industry, particularly in the form of production credits, deserve special attention. Why should we subsidize exclusion?
It is not the first time that Castro and Democrats in Congress have called out Hollywood for overlooking Latinos. Last month, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (of which Castro is the leader) slammed the Emmy Awards for their “erasure” of Latino actors after not a single actor was nominated for an award.
“There is not a single Latino or Latina nominated for [The Emmy] awards,” the Caucus, which comprises solely of Democrats, wrote at the time. “A demoralizing disappointment for the U.S.’s largest minority group, representing nearly 1-in-5 Americans. Hollywood must acknowledge and address the erasure of Latinx actors.”
In 2018, left-wing activist groups such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition and National Latino Media Council even boycotted Paramount Pictures and demonstrated outside their studios for their “dismal hiring record of Latino talent.” The company responded by pledging to continue fostering an environment of “diversity, inclusion and belonging.”