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Sofia Vergara and her iconic Colombian accent have became the butt of another joke after her “anus” gag bombed at the Golden Globe Awards.
The “Modern Family” actress is under fire on social media for furthering negative stereotypes about Latina actresses by deliberately mispronouncing the word “annual” as “anal” in an attempt to get a laugh during her appearance on stage.
But few have seen the funny side and now both her and the show’s writers are being torn apart on Twitter.
— Martin Moakler (@martinmoakler) January 9, 2017
Vergara, however, took responsibility for it by posting an Instagram photo saying she was backstage trying to figure out her “anus joke.” She then hashtagged the post with #itsallaboutentertaining.
As a result of this, other Twitter users are wondering when the 44-year-old actress is going to stop promoting condescending stereotypes.
Sofia Vergara could do so much good for Latinos…but nah…white people love funny accents ?
— Norberto Briceño (@NorbertoBriceno) January 9, 2017
We need more Diego Luna speaking Spanish and less Sofia Vergara in Latina accent jokes
— rachna (@rachnakk) January 9, 2017
why Sofia Vergara continues to participate in awards ceremony jokes that make fun of her/women/ELL is truly beyond me
— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) January 9, 2017
As that last tweet points out, the 2017 Globes moment isn’t the first time Vergara has played into the stereotypes associated with her Latina background.
Aside from Vergara’s accent, her sexual appeal has also been used as a running joke. At the 2014 Emmys, the actress stood on a rotating platform – similar to the way cars are displayed to be marveled, admired and commodified – while the CEO of the TV Academy discussed diversity in Hollywood.
And while the Internet reprimanded Emmys producers and Vergara for doing this, the actress defended the act by telling Entertainment Weekly, “I think it’s ridiculous that somebody started this – I know who she was – who has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a bit.”
The fact is that in an environment where there is very little representation of Hispanic talent, there isn’t much room to use stereotypes as entertainment.
But whether or not her joke was scripted by Hollywood or Sofia Vergara herself, her Globes appearance reopens conversations about Hollywood’s often stereotypical representation of Hispanic men and women.
A study conducted by the University of Southern California confirms how difficult it is for Latino actors and producers in Hollywood. Researchers examined films over a six-year period and found that Latino characters accounted for less than five percent of speaking roles even though Hispanics make up more than 16 percent of the population and are 25 percent of the moviegoing public.
“Hispanics and Latinos are one of the fastest-growing groups in the US,” said Marc Choueiti, one of the study’s authors. “If popular films were the only way to gauge diversity, viewers would be completely unaware of this. Individuals from this group are almost invisible on screen.”
And unfortunately, of the characters that are visible, the roles they embody are limited to maids, sexual characters, immigrants or criminals.
Rita Hayworth, who was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, was one of the first Latinas who capitalized on her sexy image to gain fame in Hollywood. It was her sexual charisma in “Gilda” that propelled her to stardom in the 1940s. Today, Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara are two examples of popular Latina actresses who have also had to take on the sexpot role. In “Desperate Housewives,” Eva Longoria played a woman who used her looks to her advantage. Similarly, Vergara’s role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on “Modern Family” has been criticized for advancing the stereotype that Latinas are merely sultry, loud and crazy.
And while Sofia Vergara thinks her awards show appearances are done in good humor, other Latina actresses are using their platform to stop the stereotypes.
Award-winning actress Gina Rodriguez, for example, regularly talks about the importance of diversity and breaking out of the traditional boundaries set for Hispanic actors and actresses. Rodriguez loves her role as Jane Villanueva on “Jane the Virgin” because she is “positive and uplifting and funny and brave…and she gets to be a Latina.”
“I used to think there was this entity that was telling me: ‘Oh, you’re Puerto Rican, you can’t pass,'” Rodriguez said in a speech at Brown University. “The truth is that was all in my mind. All those boxes – all those borders and walls that people put up – those are imaginary … I’m the one who is going to decide whether I give up or not. And I decided not to.”
Meanwhile, however, Sofia Vergara is making raunchy jokes that mix up “annual” for “anal.”
“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has an anal tradition,” she said at the Globes before introducing Sylvester Stallone’s daughters. “I didn’t mean … They have an anus tradition. They have a tradition that they do every year of choosing a second-generation performer to assist in the presentation of the awards.”
Watch the full clip of her joke in the video above and make up your own mind.