Thursday, October 22, 2009

New CNN Poll On Latinos in America Shows Progress

Sixty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released yesterday say they have some or a lot of contact with Latinos. That's up 15 points from 1990. "The jump in contact is a result of the growing number of Latinos and their growing presence in all 50 states," said CNN polling director Keating Holland. "But familiarity is not the same as knowledge.....Nearly half of people we questioned said they assume that Latinos who they have never met are immigrants, and one in five believe they are illegal immigrants."

The results of this poll, both the hopeful and the disappointing, bring to mind an infamous television advertising campaign for "Fritos" from the late 1960s. They featured an animated character called the "Frito Bandito" who was, quite literally, a cartoonish stereotype. One such commercial is embedded below. This campaign was pulled entirely (and rightly so) in 1971, after outcry from Latino groups. But it is amazing to think that these commercials were aired on television in America as recently as the early 1970s. Or that they were made by legendary animator Tex Avery, and that the voice of the Frito Bandito was supplied by the even-more-legendary Mel Blanc, who was also the voice of iconic cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. It does show that attitudes have evolved since then, however, that it would be totally unthinkable to produce advertising like this today.

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