Dora the Explorer: Illegal Immigrant?paulabernstein
Don’t worry. Dora, star of Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer,” along with her companions Boots, Backpack and Cousin Diego, is doing just fine. That’s just the headline to the mock news story that screenwriter and playwright Sherman Yellen wrote for The Huffington Post.
The bilingual animated TV character has got no idea she’s become a central figure in the controversy over Arizona’s new immigration law.
A Facebook page “Dora the Explorer is soo an Illegal Immigrant,” which features a picture of Dora vaulting over the fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, has more than 410,000 members. The mock mug shot of Dora (shown above) has been circulating around the internet on pro- and anti-immigration sites. Dora’s crimes? Illegal border crossing and resisting arrest.
The composite photo, which was created by Debbie Groben of Sarasota, FL, was not intended as a political commentary. Instead, Groben, who is against the new anti-immigration law, said she was inspired to create the image last year for the fake news web site FreakingNews.com.
Interestingly, this image and other similar ones, are being used by both sides of the immigration debate. Dora is non-threatening and relatable. But she’s also, presumably, foreign (although she speaks Spanish and English, the show never explicitly states her ethnic or national heritage).
“Dora is kind of like a blank screen onto which people can project their thoughts and feelings about Latinos,” Erynn Masi de Casanova, a sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, told the Associated Press. “They feel like they can say negative things because she’s only a cartoon character.”
Some anti-immigration web sites see the character, whom they assume is a migrant from Mexico, as part of a larger conspiracy to convince Americans to welcome Hispanics.
Last month, Arizona passed a law requiring police, in the context of enforcing other laws, to question people about their immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.
Critics say the measure will encourage racial profiling of Hispanics, who comprise up three-quarters of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
For some Latinos, Dora represents equality and freedom. She lives in a world without borders and can travel anywhere she wants without showing her I.D.
Nickelodeon broke ground in 2000 by introducing Dora, a leading Hispanic character, in an animated kids’ show. She was such a hit with the kiddie set that in 2005, the cable net launched a spin-off starring Dora’s cousin Diego, “Go, Diego, Go!”
Some parents worry that the satirical images of a battered Dora will disturb their kids.
“It’s sad that kids who Google ‘Dora the Explorer’ – at least for a little while – are going to see her in some very unflattering depictions, sometimes attached to some extraordinarily adult language and slurs,” writes Amanda Fox at Helium.com.
What do you think? Is it wrong to use a cartoon character to make a political point?
Photo: AP Photo/Courtesy of Debbie Broben and FreakingNews.com