The observation in Howard Rosenberg’s July 29 Calendar column “Network Execs: Please, Get These Guys a TV Set!” that TV executives are not tuned in to the audience is true. I also feel that they are not aware of the damaging social effects they have on the Latino community.
It has been said many times that weekly TV shows have more space “aliens” than Chicanos or Latinos as stars or in supporting roles (“Superboy,” “Alf,” “Out of this World”), and we may be entering the 21st Century without a significant impact by Latinos on either TV or movies in terms of programs showing the human dynamics of our community.
Many shows seem to emphasize an Eastern U.S. perspective, with accents, characters or background often from Chicago or New York: “The Fanelli Boys,” “Cheers,” “Perfect Strangers.” The locale of such shows is important because it takes away the importance of portraying Chicanos from the Southwest as ongoing situation characters.
And in the situations where many dramas take place--hospitals, courtrooms or police stations--you seldom see Latinos in the same numbers that you would see them in real life here in Los Angeles.
I challenge the writers, directors or producers to venture forth to L.A. County-USC Medical Center and see the maternity wards, emergency rooms or hospital beds and not see the overwhelming Latino, brown faces. Let them take a field trip to L.A. County courtrooms and in every civil, criminal or even small claims court count the Chicanos and Mexicanos and compare them to white faces. Let them see the number of people arrested and tell me they are the majority of Anglos as portrayed in “Law and Order” or “L.A. Law.”
The TV and movies are portraying this as an Anglo world, which denies career opportunities to Latinos as actors, writers and producers-directors. The impact is to erase the brown Latino face, image and history from the collective consciousness of white America.