Last year, when Ghostbusters came out, opinions on its quality were divided. While Rotten Tomatoes rated it on 73%, the audience seemed to like it less than the critics. It was consensus that the original was funnier than this new one and that, given the stars involved, the movie could have been better. Regardless of it being good or bad, though, there was complaint over the male “leads” in the movie – Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin, the Ghostbusters’ assistant, and Neil Casey’s Rowan, the main antagonist – and how they were being portrayed as generally stupid or just purely evil. Kevin’s vignette, for example, has tons and tons of comments talking about “reverse sexism” and how they hope the movie flop because of making him a comic relief; always arguing that the original movie’s receptionist, Janine (portrayed by Annie Potts) wasn’t as ridiculed as Kevin is and forgetting that, in the 1984 film, while the men got to put the suits on and fight ghosts, all Janine did was answer the phone.
More recently, the Netflix Original One Day At A Time has been a victim of the same sort of criticism. The series is focused on the life of a Cuban-American family, especially on the three women – Lydia (Rita Moreno), Penelope (Justina Machado) and Elena Alvarez (Isabella Gomez), girls from three different generations. While we do have characters such as Alex Alvarez (Marcel Ruiz), who aren’t exactly ridiculed, the series does feature Schneider (Todd Grinell), who is funny for, well, being a white male. In the middle of a family of Latinos, Grinell’s character is often racist or sexist and, for that, made fun of. His ignorance, how the show treats his white privilege, is by far the funniest thing on the character. And, for that, white men are crying over how One Day At A Time isn’t a good comedy if it has the need of making fun of a white man for being white and a man.
What those white men seem to have forgotten is that, ever since television and movies are a thing, the opposite has been going on. The thing they’re experiencing now is barely a compensation for years and years of making fun of women, accusing them to be superficial and vain, or POC, treating their roots as something that’s nothing but source of laughter.
While there is an endless list of female characters that were put down in favour of men – starting with Annie Potts’ Janine, who, well, got to answer the phone –, a good and example is Modern Family’s Gloria Delgado. The character, portrayed by Sofía Vergara, may have her moments of good Latinx representation and treat important issues such as immigration and American citizenship acquisition, but, in certain episodes, they will use her as the Latina stereotype: a fiery but vain woman, who misunderstands half of the things that are said. It saddens me to think that she isn’t the first woman to be put in such a position, and probably won’t be the last.
That said, dear white men, please stop complaining over how comedy is portraying you nowadays. We’ve all been there before and believe me, you don’t know the first thing about being ridiculed on-screen.