There has been a huge dispute in the last few years about the legitimacy of Speedy Gonzales, a popular cartoon character from the 1950s. He first came onto our television screens in 1953 but he was taken off air in 1999 by the Cartoon Network for perpetuating stereotypes about Mexicans. The Network finds him extremely derogatory and has deemed his offensive depiction of Mexicans unfit for normal tv viewing hours. “In his adventures, the sombrero-wearing mouse sports an over-the-top Mexican accent and uses his super speed to foil foes like the ‘Greengo Pussygato’ Sylvester. Speedy is sometimes aided by a coterie of drunken Mexican mice who lounge around the village, or by his lazy cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez, who seems as slow-witted as he is slow-footed’ 2. Therefore they have put him in remote times of the day, including late at night. Even though he has offended viewers, most of opponents to his removal come from Hispanics themselves. They find him to be a hero and to hold many positive qualities, some being that, “He is intelligent, he has a strong sense of justice, he is very good at what he does, and he has a healthy sense of humor” 3. But with negative images, like Speedy’s
lazy cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, and other illustrations of smoking and drinking, Latinos in this country are not happy. The debate is mixed between the Latino viewers who call the cartoon racist, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) who has openly criticized Cartoon Network and petitioned for Speedy’s return, and the Cartoon Network itself, which states that part of the reason to limit the airtime of Speedy is because of poor ratings.
In the end, Speedy Gonzales has stirred much controversy but the real question comes from the disparity between Latinos in this country. Viewers in Mexico love Speedy and what he stands for. They triumph this cartoon as a hero to the Mexican people. But there are other implications with Speedy’s depiction that can also be taken offensively, such as the stereotype that all Mexicans wear sombreros, have an accent, have lazy relatives, and are always up against white people. Should this cartoon be put back on daytime airwaves? Is it acceptable since many Latinos in this country support it? The issue deals with more that just stereotypes, but lack of leaders and diversity of those leaders within the Latino community. The media has limited images of Latinos and many have not been flattering. Speedy is a strong hero to some and racist cartoon to others. What does this say about cartoons and drawn media? How do Latinos fit in without stepping on the toes their own people? Can Latinos have a hero in the media that does not personify some of the basic racial notions of what it means to be Latino? Or is this impossible? The question then comes to who is most important to please, Latinos or non-Latinos? Maybe, no matter what, any image in the media, in our society, will draw on some stereotypes regardless