2018 elections, Better Call Saul, celebrities, crime, entertainment industry, Following Up, Hollywood, illegal aliens, Immigration, Media & Society, midterms 2018, Norman Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment, OMG WTF, television, Trump, University of Southern California
If America’s entertainment industry has made anything clear since President Trump’s run for the White House began in mid-2016, it’s that it detests the chief executive, and that his stance on illegal aliens and immigration more generally is one big reason why. .
That’s why I wrote with such astonishment last month about Hollywood’s failure to come down like a ton of bricks about the popular cable dramedy Better Call Saul – whose portrayal of Latinos in New Mexico seems taken straight out of Mr. Trump’s campaign launch speech describing many illegal aliens as criminals, rapists, and (especially relevant for Saul) drug dealers.
Yesterday, however, my jaw dropped further when I came across a report finding that Saul was anything but an anomaly. According to a study just put out by the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment, Media & Society (what a mouthful!) American television overall presents a significantly distorted and misleadingly negative picture of immigration and immigration issues.
And prominent among these alleged distortions: “Immigrants are disproportionately associated with crime and incarceration on TV.”
“On TV, one-third (34%) of immigrant characters were associated with a crime. This does not match reality. 2018 studies by the CATO Institute and the Marshall Project both reiterate what several other studies have found: both undocumented populations and immigrants as a whole commit less crime than native-born Americans.
“Eleven percent of TV immigrants are associated with incarceration. This means there was either a reference to a previous incarceration, they are currently incarcerated or there is a reference to a future incarceration. This is substantially higher than the less than 1% of foreign-born people incarcerated at the state and federal level in the U.S., excluding immigration offenses, according to the CATO Institute.”
In this post, I’m not going to get into the debate over whether legal immigrants or, more important, illegal aliens, commit crimes to a greater or lesser degree than native-born Americans. (Here’s my take on the subject.) Rather, the main point here is that, as actors and comedians and talk show hosts focus on demonizing President Trump for cruel, unfair, racist, fascistic, and xenophobic immigration policy priorities, they’ve apparently been working in an industry that’s vigorously propagated the very stereotypes they say they abhor (and not just on crime, but on immigrant education levels, poverty rates, and legal status).
Entertainment industry figures recently started a political action committee named OMG WTF to support Democratic political candidates in key states in next month’s midterm elections. As the Lear Center report reminds, that acronym obviously also applies to Hollywood’s hypocrisy about immigration.