Being the first live-action superhero movie to feature a Latino character as the lead was always going to be a challenge for Blue Beetle. Not because there’s anything challenging about giving voice to underrepresented groups of people in media, but because the truth of the matter is racism still exists, as made perfectly clear by the bigots at Nerdrotic Daily.
The title of the YouTube video in question — “Let’s TACO BOUT Blue Beetle!” — should have been enough of an indication that the 16 minutes therein would be dripping with overt racism, but as someone who gives even the densest bigots the benefit of the doubt whenever possible (we’re all human after all, and we all have the capacity for love), I can honestly say I was shocked. And I’m not the only one.
“I love hearing about the criticism of Mexican culture from a panel that looks like a talking mayo jar,” wrote one person in the comments.
“Yes, because this panel knows what it’s like to grow up in a hispanic house hold. Thank you for speaking out for us,” mocked another.
Then perhaps the most accurate comment comes courtesy of this lovely commenter, who summarizes the whole debacle in a nutshell: “Everyone in this video goes to Taco Bell for an authentic Mexican experience.”
Right out of the gate, the video begins with one of the panelist delivering a preliminary speech that reeks of “I’m not racist, but…” Meanwhile, mariachi music plays in the background.
“Anytime there’s a Hispanic or Black character in a movie or a show it is completely centered around that culture and there’s no other aspect of anything else.”
False. And even if it wasn’t false, that’s a bad thing because…? Because the world isn’t as vanilla as your day-to-day life? Because you’d prefer to see a person of color puppeteering through a white person’s life? Because anything that isn’t told through the white lens is too vast for your smallminded brain to comprehend, let alone accept? Sorry, not a good enough reason. Next!
For a brief moment in the beginning — less than 30 seconds — one person tries to underline the value of this family-centric superhero movie. Unfortunately, even that was punctuated with whiffs of toxic masculinity. He compliments the movie’s love interest, Bruna Marquezine as Jenny Kord, and says he appreciated how she wasn’t “shutting him down” and that the love story between her and Jaime Reyes was “back to traditional.” So, when a woman shuts a man down because maybe, just maybe, she’s allowed to stick up for herself, not put up with his crap, and not be a simple piece of furniture in his life, she’s “non-traditional?” Hate to break it to you, man, but your sexism is showing. Next!
At 1:50 the panel of bigots criticizes George Lopez’s character for surviving a missile attack in the movie’s third act, which, sure, is completely warranted, but if that was all then we wouldn’t have a problem. Instead, these blowhards imitate fake Mexican accents and say things like “we’re tough people, it’s what we do” and “we survive because racism” all the while laughter ripples through the virtual room. Bye!
At 3:50 they make fun of Jaime Reyes’s (Xolo Maridueña) lack of imagination for not creating more elaborate weapons with his Blue Beetle costume, and one person says it was probably because he never played video games as a kid. Then, someone else says wait no, they saw an Xbox controller on his nightstand, to which the previous panelist then adds, “Yeah right next to his salsa.”
Some of the worst moments come courtesy of the one and only white lady in the group, who singlehandedly bumped the White Lady Community back several decades. She says she has a lot of “thoughts and feelings” about Blue Beetle, and god do we wish she never shared them.
Aside from calling Xolo Maridueña “Miguel from Kobra Kai cause I just keep forgetting his real name,” her biggest bone to pick was the movie’s “unnecessary, gratuitous racism.” Who was the racism directed at, you ask? This white woman who’s never known and will never know what it feels like to be rejected, ridiculed, or demeaned for her skin color feels extremely offended by the depiction of racism in corporate America. Yes, you read that correctly.
Her comments are a grade-A example of the foible strands reverse racism die-hards cling to when crying tears of accountability. For Maridueña’s character to be profiled by a white receptionist at K.O.R.D. Industries even while dressed in a suit is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back for her. Such atrocities would “never f****** happen,” and yet according to research conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan, that kind of discrimination happens all the time for Latinos when applying for jobs.
“To the lady who has been a receptionist: stuff like this happens ALL THE TIME!!!” wrote one person in the comments section (thank you, kind commenter). “It’s amazing when you have a group of white people telling a whole culture how life is for us cause you know they would know… oh the disconnect. Tell me you’re racist without telling me you’re racist!”
Aside from taking issue with the whole “Batman is a fascist” line, which we’d expect nothing less from this upstanding white lady, her other bone to pick came after it was revealed George Lopez’s character was a tech genius. Her (not-so-subtle) comment really hammered home just how damaging this lady’s opinions are.
“Like we’re supposed to just be like ‘Oh of course he’s a tech genius.’ Isn’t every Hispanic uncle a tech genius.”
Ex… Excuse me? Did we all hear that correctly? But before we can even collect ourselves from that bombshell, she tops it off by calling the Reyes’ house fire in the movie’s third act a “Hawaiian forest fire,” proving how shriveled her heart really is.
Regrettably, she follows that up with complaints that the story centers around the Reyes family losing their home and struggling to pay the bills. “They’re brown so they’re perpetual victims,” she says with air quotes and a scoff. “There’s how many working-age adults in this family and y’all can’t make rent?”
“They just want to push us out of our neighborhood,” adds another person mockingly.
“Maybe stop feeding the daughter,” adds a second.
And to the one person of color who sits idly in the right-hand corner of the screen as these privileged, white pieces of trash spit at the feet of Mexican culture and all Latinos: Shame on you. I don’t know what ethnic background you belong to, but I doubt you’d be smiling and laughing if these same white people were mocking Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, or Filipino culture and ridiculing everything that reminds you of your parents, loved ones, and personally-lived experience. It’s easy to aid and abet bigotry when it’s not directed at you but know that you’re just one blockbuster movie away from the tables turning.
“Just so u all know: u can critique the movie without trying to dissect and poke fun at a culture u don’t understand !!!!!! crazy, I know right?” concluded one person in the comments.
Indeed, there are a thousand different ways to have a conversation about a movie you don’t like. Unfortunately, if the main reason you don’t like it is because it centers around a culture you don’t care to understand and chose to insult, well, then I want nothing to do with you. As a matter of fact, I feel bad for you. I hope one day you have the opportunity to expand your mind beyond your limiting beliefs and get the chance to see how vast the world really is. How diverse it is, how many unique experiences exist, and just how similar we all really are. Most importantly, I hope one day you realize you and your personal experiences are not the center of the universe.