by Daniel Cubias
We Latinos love our horror movies. If there are shrieking demons, knife-wielding maniacs, or bloodthirsty poltergeists up on the screen, there are probably lots of Hispanics watching it.
Hollywood has noticed this as well. Horror movies are aggressively marketed to Hispanic audiences, and “Latinos have the highest audience share in the horror/thriller” genre.
It stands to reason, then, that horror movies now feature more Hispanic characters. However, this new-found appreciation for diversity is mixed news.
While there are more Latino characters onscreen, they are primarily of one type. Namely, they are superstitious weirdos who exist only to illuminate the white character’s understanding and help him or her through the crisis.
I noticed this while watching Paranormal Activity 2, in which a demon terrorizes a white family. The nanny/maid (a Latina, of course) mumbles all kinds of mumbo jumbo and burns incense to keep evil at bay. But this only pisses off her employers, who fire her. Eventually, the family calls her back in to help them. You might think she would be slightly bitter about getting canned when all she was trying to do was save their souls. But she’s a good servant, so she returns. After that… well, you’ll just have to see the movie.
In Drag Me to Hell, the white girl at the center of the story is counseled by a Middle Eastern psychic. But eventually, they have to call in the big guns, so they visit a Latina mystic, who very dramatically shouts “Afuera!” in an attempt to banish the demon.
In Devil, the only person who knows what’s going on is the Hispanic security guard. He tries to tell every white person around him. But they scoff at his jittery ramblings and dismiss him.
Each movie relies on superstitious Hispanics proving themselves to skeptical whites. In each case, the Latino character is a minor player. And yes, a lot of the time they are cowardly and/or get killed in the effort of helping the main characters.
Now, one can argue that there are worse characterizations than being the spiritually sensitive person who knows all the answers. However, the trend of superstitious Hispanics is really just a new form of the played-out “magical black man” imagery in Hollywood movies.
In our post-racial era, it is now Hispanics, as well as black people, “who exist primarily to help troubled white folks, and who generally have few meaningful characteristics of their own.”
As much as I love horror movies, it’s a bit tiring to see Hispanics get all freaky while pleading with white heroes, who only come around to their way of thinking in time for the movie’s climax. We could save a lot of time if the white person just said, “You’re right, you crazy Latino, there is a demon after us.”
But I guess that would be a pretty short movie.
To learn more about Daniel, visit Hispanic Fanatic.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.