Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Representations of Undocumented Immigrants: Sharon Angle vs. Under The Same Moon

Sharon Angle ran for Senate during these past November 2nd elections. Thankfully, she LOST. She followed a very common pattern of scapegoating, if you will, during a time of economic crisis when all resources seem to be "taken up" by undocumented immigrants who don't pay taxes. In a video she approved/sponsored undocumented mexican immigrants are villainized while a white couple and white children are victimized. The white characters in the ad are said to be "forced to live in fear" due to the presence of undocumented immigrants who "cross our borders to join gangs." The video is extremely problematic and it became even more so when Sharon Angle was confronted by a group of Mexican students at a school in Nevada, the state she was running for Senate in. When asked about the undocumented immigrants crossing the US-Mexico Border she said that she didn't even know if the people crossing the border in the commercial were Mexican. She claimed to not even know what Mexicans looked like. There is not one standard way to identify what a mexican "looks like" but the people depicted in the ad were for sure Latinos. All of the images of undocumented immigrants were of Men. I think this has to do with the fact that its more difficult to see a woman breaking the law, or of projecting an evil image while showing women. In this sense the commercial is gendered in such a way that more fear is supposed to be translated through the campaign ad. In my 2nd paper that I wrote for this class I discuss how these images of undocumented immigrants dehumanize those being portrayed because they show them in an extremely negative light. Under the Same Moon on the other hand, a movie released in 2008 about an undocumented mother and her child, does the exact opposite. It shows a more realistic view of what undocumented immigrants experience while living in the United States. What I found interesting about the film Under the Same Moon was that all of the white characters were "bad guys." This is exactly what critics pointed out in all the reviews that I read. They were extremely disturbed by it. It may be exaggerated but none the less its the same type of strategy that is used by the anti-immigrant community to make latino immigrants look like the "Bad guys." There is a ton of information out there that easily dismantles this so-called "Latino threat" by the undocumented community but these negative portrayals of undocumented immigrants are still taken in as truths.

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