Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Patio Six

Yesterday in class we talked about the “Patio Six,” a group of African Americans employees who protested their bosses’ method advertisement for his restaurant. This method was paying an elderly black woman, Mrs. Keyes, to dress in stereotypical ‘mammy’ clothing outside the restaurant and ring a bell to lure people passing by to the restaurant. The restaurant was also decorated in a racist manner with a mammy doll. The workers informed their boss that they were offended and chose to leave the establishment. Their former boss then called the police on them, claiming that they were disturbing the peace. The workers were upset by the blatant racism and stereotyping that was shown through costume Mrs. Keyes wore and the mammy doll sitting in the establishment’s window. Unfortunately, the problem of racial stereotyping still lingers in our society today, and is especially prevalent in the movie industry.

Dev Patel, the actor who played Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionaire, has been quoted complaining about the types of roles that have been offered to him, which include nerdy sidekick, goofy Indian and terrorist. This complaint is similar to the ‘Patio Six”’s, because they were both tired of racial profiling. There are many other stereotypical roles that Hollywood continually resorts to. Since September 11th, the villains in films always seem to be Middle Eastern terrorists. Being Middle Eastern, I am offended by this role. The general public’s idea of Middle Eastern culture, especially the role of males in it, has become skewed by movies like ‘Taken’. I even considered Sex and the City 2 offensive because of the Middle Eastern stereotypes that were played into and the disrespect paid to my heritage.The more frequently these stereotypes appear in the media, the more willing people are to consider them the truth. In high school I had to deal with ignorant peers who would ask questions like if I owned a rocket launcher. One boy even had the nerve to come up to me the day Osama bin Laden was captured and tell me “he was sorry my uncle was in jail”.

There are many forms of media that feed into stereotypes and if there was an active effort to rid themselves of these images, then perhaps we could work towards a country where the ideas are understood as a false delusion of the past.


  1. I feel sorry to say that stereotypes associated with different cultures will continue to flourish as long as the media is present basically gifting to the community ways in which to portray cultures that we are at the end of the day so ignorant of... just as I get tired of the African American being portrayed as everything wrong with society. I feel as is Tyler Perry films always portrays the black woman being dogged by black men who are promiscuous and always play the "player" role. And Madea is no better because she portrays the same mammy type character as seen in the patio six and black children as rowdy, troubled, and lacking direction. What's even more sad about it all is that the image is being portrayed by our own culture and it shows how deeply its embedded in the culture if the one who was once belittled by the role, proudly portrays the role. Also think about how the white man is always portrayed as a hero. Note movies such as James Bond, Batman, Spiderman, etc. You never really see anyone of a unique ethnicity play these roles.

  2. I think this post is interesting because I never really thought about the Arab stereotypes that are in present day movies. Now after reading this, I can think of many examples of these stereotypes in 21st century films, especially Sex and the City 2. The movie displayed four American women being trashy tourists demanding ridiculous luxuries while the Arabs in the film were only seen as "happy go lucky" servants.

  3. Hollywood plays a huge role in racial stereotyping, and the films it creates play into these stereotypes. This continues a vicious, sometimes racist, cycle. It is hard to see an end to the ways in which certain types of people are negatively portrayed in movies. Actors and actresses are eager to get job offers in hopes of getting a "big break" or staying in the spotlight, so they'll take any part offered to them. Even if it means feeding into a cliche. This problem goes beyond white and black. As Margaux said, it affects people of other cultures too such as Middle Easterners, Indians, and Chinese and also people of different religious views and sexual orientations. The movie industry will continue to thrive on portraying groups in certain lights because people see their movies.