Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Latin@ Stereotypes in "Happy Feet"

Over the weekend I was spending time with my little cousin and she wanted to watch the movie “Happy Feet.” The movie was really cute, but I couldn’t help noticing the Latin@ stereotypes involved. The premise of the movie is as follows: the main penguin, Mumble, gets banished from his Emperor Penguin community for wanting to dance instead of sing for his mating ritual. He travels away from home for the first time and stumbles upon another penguin community, the Adelie penguins. First of all, it becomes obvious that these penguins are supposed to be the Latin@ community from their heavy Spanish accents. Essentially it seems like he has walked into a “ghetto” of sorts compared to his own community. They speak with attitude and in slang, very different from the somewhat refined Emperor Penguins. Physically there are major differences between the Adelie and Emperor Penguins: The Adelie are considerably smaller, almost “runt-like” when compared to the tall elegant emperor penguin. The Adelie also have different mating rituals than the Emperor penguins: while the Emperor Penguins sing in beautiful, educated voices to one another, the Adelie penguins sing and dance around foolishly trying to attract the first female that comes along. It was just interesting to me how the Latin@ penguin group was shown as less educated and refined than their white Emperor counterparts. I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie and recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Despite this, the Adelie penguins ended up being my favorite part of the movie!

Ok so this is a version of the trailer that only features the Latin@ penguins. It doesn’t show all of what I’m talking about, but for those who haven’t seen the movie you’ll get a little taste of how the penguins are portrayed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Thanks so much for posting this! I haven't seen Happy Feet since I was in high school, and back then I wasn't advanced far enough to identify the ways in which Latin@s are stereotyped in this movie.
    It's interesting to note that the one song that is sung in Spanish in the whole movie is just a translation of the English song "My Way", which was popularized by Frank Sinatra. The makers of this film have portrayed the penguins through an rather Americanized perspective of Latinos, utilizing a translated version of a popular and American song to show off the Adelie penguins' Latin@-ness.