The Servant Entertainment Industrial Complex

There’s a lot of debates going around about Lifetime’s newest series Devious Maids. The series is about five Latina maids with big dreams working in Beverly Hills’ rich and famous homes. The show was originally planned to premiere on ABC, but the network dropped the pilot (wise choice), and the show ended up on Lifetime.

What’s unsettling is the fact that Latinas as maids is an ongoing racist and sexist Hollywood trope. Several writers have expressed their dismay over the show all agreeing that the series does nothing but rehash a damaging stereotype about women of color.

As I read the articles I realized that Hollywood is still in the business of portraying people of color (POC) as servants to rich and powerful whites. We’ve had movies from Hearts in Dixie and Gone With the Wind to much recent films like The Help and the soon to be released The Butler, a film about the life of Cecil James, a black man who served for eight different U.S. Presidents from 1952 to 1986. To the average moviegoer The Butler sounds like a must-see movie. To others it’s just another ‘servant for white folks’ movie.

It’s no secret that when it comes to race and women, Hollywood proudly fails to combat issues that affect anyone who’s not white or male. Instead, it sees “other” people as two-dimensional characters. To the worldly people in Tinsel Town, stereotypes are not only authentic, but they are way more entertaining and profitable. (I was being sarcastic, by the way.)

But there is more to it than just money and fame. It is about the goal of maintaining white supremacy on the big and small screens. The servant trope is one idea to re-enforce the notion that women and POC are meant to serve whites. It’s no secret that there are white people today who hold that belief in their hearts. Some of them miss the “good ole’ days” where whiteness was king of the world, and they terrified that it’s losing its throne. 

What they miss the most is when POC were in their proper place, at the beckon call of white people when they need that quick fix feeling superior. They miss the days where there blacks and browns were quiet, devoid of free will and obedient. Hollywood helps bring back those days producing servant films to audiences who won’t move on and consider that maybe, just maybe POC would like to be seen as…people.

Don’t expect such films to stop coming out of the assembly line any time soon. Hollywood is still heavily whitewashed. Remember, there is nothing wrong with being a maid, butler or servant in general. But, there is something wrong with an industry that sees a people as nothing but.


24 thoughts on “The Servant Entertainment Industrial Complex

  1. Black men playing butlers,black women playing nannies and Hispanic women playing maids?? Is it 2013 or 1913? Looking at Hollyweird films nowadays it’s hard to tell! These white/Jewish gatekeepers in Tinseltown have no imagination at all. But I gues when you have a black maid or Mexican gardner at your home–it alters your perspective a bit. They really need to get out more. Our role is NOT to be the servants of white folks. I don’t care how many films they put out to push this racist agenda.

  2. But it’s Oprah Winfrey and Lee Daniels producing and financing this crap. I think Oprah and Lee Daniels are involved in this I could be wrong. But I think I read this.

  3. And I just read Paula Deen admits to calling black people the N-word. She is being sued by a black employee who catered her brother’s wedding. The black caterer asked Deen what she wanted for the weeding of her brother Bubba. I read she replied ” I want them dressed like N-words all dressed in white and tap dancing like in the Shirley Temple movies in the Civil war days. I always wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. But I am not surprised by this. I will not buy her products. She also responded ” I can’t determine what will offend who”.

      1. Though she still comes on,I think that it’s her remaining shows. According to Food Network, her contract will not be renewed.

  4. The Paula Deen article is in News One today. And Oprah Loves her some Paula Deen. I wonder what Oprah thinks of this.

    1. She probably could care less I gave up on Oprah long ago when she turned into America’s mammy and made her show into a haven for middle class white suburban soccer moms. She is also buddies with Rachel Ray who made a nasty crack about her “Beloved” character

      1. Agreed. I’m quite sure there are other people in the cooking/entertainment industry who said the same but haven’t been outed. It took Mel Gibson 3 times before be was brought down and then you got Dog the Bounty Hunter. Its not right that his show is still on.

  5. I noticed that a lot of white male critics ONLY liked Will Smith when he was playing a the ghost of a slave and a gay man are only acceptable when we aren’t playing anyone too aggressive or in charge. I’ll bet a lot of folks lost their shit when Morgan Freeman was the president and God.

  6. Look at that picture of that dignified waiter up above, I wonder if this gentlemen ever had the urge to throw that tray at some (or all) of those people he was required to serve? I have a Latino friend who praised that crappy movie “The Help” when it came out, and I really couldn’t explain it enough to him how much this overhyped tripe was right on par with the Maid and Landscaping stereotype that Latinos simultaneously face. I think he’s been in Utah for too long, and I should know because I lived there for a period of 3 years-odd place indeed to say the least!

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