In the last post I wrote showing the colorful photographs of insects by Catherine Chalmers which you can access here, I demonstrated the beautiful positive pictures I found on the website. However, here is also a photo from the same photographer that I saved, that to me, makes an enormous statement about who society considers pests. I am not talking about real cockroaches, I am talking about the horrible lynchings that have happened in the United States in the recent past due to racism. People of all colors have been victims of these crimes. This is why I want to take the opportunity to show the subtle racism that I noticed in an episode of a very popular show.
In AMC’s hit TV series episode of, “Breaking Bad,” Walter (the bald man) and his sidekick (the young guy) pretend to be fumigators in order to sneak into people’s empty homes to make their unique blue meth. While watching the show, I noticed that the fumigators had a uniform that read, “Vamonos Pests,” meaning “Lets Go Pests.” I also could not help but notice that instead of choosing English words, they chose a Spanish word, and that the word afterward was ‘pests.’ It was not “go away,” from the perspective of the hunter, but from those being hunted, telling themselves to go away. This is a loaded message in the United States as Mexican people and other Latin American groups are suffering harsher and more stricter policies regarding coming undocumented to the United States. Arizona has started taking their own measures with SB 1070, where racial profiling is the whole point of the law to return undocumented peoples, and other states are following the lead as well.
One must pay close attention when words of another language are used in shows and what those words represent. Usually, Spanish words in movies talk about negative things, like for example, in the “Terminator,” starring Arnold Schwarzenergger, he states “Asta la vista…” before shooting someone. In “Despicable Me,” it is used to tell a lady that she has the face of a donkey. In this case with “Breaking Bad,” they are stating that these Spanish speaking pest should leave the white person’s house, representing the United States. However, it also has ambiguous meanings as the white house in the nice neighborhood represents safety, but corruption is going on behind those doors as well.
In a lot of shows, I have noticed that Mexican people are often depicted as being roaches. In an episode of “Family Guy,” (which I have posted below) a roach talks with a Mexican American accent. When the dog agrees that those are bad roaches, the tenant states, “I blame the schools.” Who goes to governmental funded schools mostly? Minorities groups. But the accent of those roaches specifically, points at Mexican kids and gangsters. In “American Dad,” there is another episode where the father wants to take his son to Mexico to make him “a man,” meaning to set him up with a prostitute, but instead, are taken to jail, and they make a friend with a Mexican cockroach whom they later throw out the window before making it to the United States. You may think, but “Breaking Bad,” is not “Family Guy,” or any of the similar sort where the purpose of the show is to highlight racism and other sensitive subjects. However, the reason those shows, like “Family Guy,” are successful, is because they resonate with societal vies and flaws that the audience recognize, and thus can find funny. Jokes tend to be funny when one can relate to them, hence racist shows and comedies work the same way. The name, “Vamonos Pest,” fumigating service in “Breaking Bad,” is supposed to be a clever joke by the way the camera focuses on the name and the music playing while it is introduced to the viewer for the first time. I find this to be another example of subtle racism that can be easily overlooked or dismissed. This subtle racism is really shown everywhere, as it is not just about putting down certain people groups, but elevating one group over another as well.