U.S. – Popular children’s cartoon character Dora the Explorer is being made a focus online in the nationwide immigration debate. As reported by CBS 11 News, images that have been doctored to question the citizenship status of the character have recently surfaced in the media, with reactions to them being mixed.
Erynn Masi de Casanova, a sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, is quoted in the report as stating of the matter, “Dora is kind of like a blank screen onto which people can project their thoughts and feelings about Latinos… They feel like they can say negative things because she’s only a cartoon character.”
As noted in the report, the recent scrutiny of Dora the Explorer is reminiscent of a debate about the sexuality of another children’s programming character, Tinky Winky the Teletubby, over a decade ago.
Angharad Valdivia, who teaches media studies at the University of Illinois, is further quoted in the report as stating of the controversy, “She’s always been ambiguously constructed… In the U.S. the way we understand race is about putting people in categories and we’re uncomfortable with people we can’t put into categories.”