George Lopez: Now in the business of stereotype reinforcement
Like so many, it started out such a promising career. Coming up from humble beginnings as a Hispanic stand-up comic and radio host, George Lopez seemingly appeared from nowhere in the early 2000s in a number of very credible roles: the star of his own Hispanic-centric sitcom, supporting roles in Bread and Roses and Real Women have Curves. Hell, he was even pretty good in Balls of Fury. Things started to go downhill from there, though, and now, fresh off a voiceover in the utterly unpalatable Marmaduke and heading into another in the upcoming film adaptation of The Smurfs, Lopez's creative output seems to have reached its nadir.
In many ways, Lopez has led a similar career to Eddie Murphy. Both were once promising stand-ups with controversial routines, who challenged and broke Hollywood race barriers while managing to stay true to their heritage. Later, both seemingly got chewed up by the Hollywood machine and spit out as sad, PG-safe shells of their former selves who, rather than representing their background, simply act as vessels for distilling stereotypes of it into easy sound-bites for children. Murphy is apparently now contract-required never to appear in front of a camera not wearing a fat suit and farting, while Lopez no longer appears in front of cameras at all, instead doing voice-overs for "Mexican" versions of popular cartoon characters.
And their movies choices are not just vehicles for ethnic typecasting; they're also really awful. Let's take a look at the trailer for The Smurfs:
Did you stick with it until the 36-second mark? Because that's when it gets really bad.
But not quite as bad as it looks like Lopez's career is going to get. It's unknown how offensive Lopez's portrayal of whatever "Mexican Smurf" he's voicing (please let it not be "Handy" or "Lazy"), but if it's not offensive enough, his remake of Speedy Gonzales surely will be. That's right. Lopez is actually remaking Speedy Gonzales. Sigh.
Of course, Lopez's wife and collaborator Ann has taken pains to clarify that the Speedy they intend to represent is " not the Speedy of the 1950s -- the racist Speedy."
Well, that's good. But Lopez doesn't need to make outright racist films to reinforce stereotypes -- he's been doing that effectively enough for the last five years.
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