Dora’s and Politics

Americans enjoy categorizing their citizens into groups, even the large mass of Caucasians find contentment in knowing their own origins. After viewing a simple image of Dora the Explorer, most Americans would believe that they could see Dora as a Latin young women. The problem however is that Americans tend to lean on stereotypes for further information about Latinos. For instance, Harold J. Alford believes that “Latinos are still treated as illegal immigrants even though they are citizens” of the United States (Alford, 228-234). When the Arizona debate had occurred, Dora innocently awaited her quick allegations about her immigration status. Thus this topic provided ideas for many “creative” Dora spoofs.

Links to different spoofs via the topic of immigration:

Dora the Border Explorer

Bert Kreischer

Dora In the style of Promiscuous

Dora Pregnant, Smoking, and on Welfare

Dora the Explorer’s first political dismay was her intention to bring the spanish language to young preschoolers. Many parents stood against Dora at this time hoping to reinstate the English-only laws, therefore the parents would be protecting America’s cultural integrity. Their attempts to complain about Dora into Revision of her purpose had failed. The creators of Dora wanted young Latino children to feel proud of their heritage not threatened or ashamed of it. Prior to 1967, children that were caught speaking spanish in the classroom would receive corporal punishment, and Gareth Dowes believed that the parents and the english-only movement only supported this movement out of fear of the unknown. Another great author Donaldo Macedo said this:

The present overdose of monolingualism and anglocentrism that dominates the current educational debate not only contributes to a type of mind-tied America, but also is incapable of producing educators and leaders who can rethink what it means to prepare students to enter the everchanging, multilingual, and multicultural world of the 21st century (Macaedo, 246).”

Moreover, Americans need to trust Dora in preparing their children’s future. Dora will teach them both another language and self-assuredness to face the upcoming primary years of school.

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Dora the Latina/ Americana

Latin American Cultures are united by common elements, such as music, language, and environment, which are reinforced in all of the episodes of Dora  the Explorer. One of these episodes, is “Baby Winky Comes Home.” Dora is wearing her typical smile on her tan face, plain pink shirt, plain orange shorts, yellow lacey socks, white tennis shoes, and her backpack. Boots the monkey accompanies Dora on her adventure to bring Baby Winky to his parents. Along their journey, they pass aloe plants, palm trees, and flowered bushes. The first marker that they reach is a farmer’s Market. The Market has a merchant with a elongated crown, wide brimmed hat and a very large mustache. The merchant is wearing a bandana and a pair of overalls. On the way to the number bridge, Baby Winky becomes cold and asks for a striped blanket that has weaved fringes on the sides of the blanket. After the “Come on, Vaminos” travel song is finished Dora, Boots, and Baby Winky arrive at the number bridge, where Dora leads the count to ten in Spanish. Then the group is off to the Mountain top to bring Baby Winky to his parents. Keep in mind that Dora the Explorer episodes go deeper then Dora saving the day. The theme song, the travel song, and the crickets song – salsa, marimba, cha cha cha, mambo, provide the perspective that Dora is based on Latina culture . The Language of the characters also aid in supporting Dora episodes as Latino Cultures. Dora offers the audience phrases in the Spanish language or educates the preschoolers how to count or differentiate colors in this language. Next the environment plays a heavy role in identifying Dora as a Latina character. As she travels through moderate climate to tropical or to the rigid climate of Antarctica, she frequently would pass by palm trees and aloe plants. Hilgard O’Reilly Sternberg agrees that the “humid tropical lowlands…make up a large portion of Latin America(Sternberg, 182).” Dora the Explorer episodes provide enough evidence to deem the show as reflecting Latin Culture. However Dora speaks Spanish with an American accent and adds American twists to the traditional Latino music, such as the Undercover Dora song, which incorporates keyboard, guitar, and drum in the crickets song. The usual Crickets songs include musical instruments of the accordion, xylophone, and trumpets. There are also places in the United States that have palm trees, mountains and plains, therefore Dora could be a Latin American of the United States. Overall Dora benefits the United States in merging the Latin and American cultures, so that American children have awareness that Latin Culture is vibrant, as well as important to the American society.

Dora’s attire and rural type settings also impose degradation upon Latinos. This occurs because American see Dora’s plain clothing on her friends and her Abuela, the Americans also notice that the Dora’s house (within the Nick Jr. episodes) is very simple old style Spanish type of house. The simplicity of Dora allows Americans to view that all Latinos are impoverished. Even though a large amount of Latinos are working, the “22.7 percent live under the poverty limit” and “on average 33.4 percent of Latino children ar living under the poverty level (Suarez-Orozco). Therefore Americans’ stereotypes about Latinos and there social status are relatively justified. Some Americans continue to feel that Latinos are inferior to them, to help themselves feel more self-assured. Yet a quote by Herman Melville, discourages this belief. He said that

“Our Blood is as the blood of the Amazon, made up of a thousand noble currents all pouring into one. We are not a nation but a World (Fuchs, 277).”

Melville was saying that American culture is split, but they will come together at certain times.

Click Here to watch a video of Dora and Boots doing the Mambo.

Dora’s Feminine Makeover

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the new Dora. I can’t understand how she looks “sexed up” She kind of looks like how my 7 year old looks. And most girls lengthen and thin out as they grow! She’s so much better than a lot of other dolls marketed to girls, as said above Bratz are horrible!(Lauren).”

“Like they couldn’t come up with another character for tweens!!! Like Nancy Drew never aged. Like they have to take the one thing our kids can identify with and age it? Barbie has been the same age since forever. Superheros never get old. But our Dora has to age? Unbelieveable. Is there a way to protest this? A way to get a petition to protest this ridculous thinking. And I am not even going to address the “Hot Tamale” aspect. Viewers can change how she looks!!!! What? Make her lighter? Give her blue eyes to make her respectable? Incredible. What do these companies have? A room full of people who are ordered to be racists and offensive to others. This has to stop. Now. We have money now. Has anyone told them that? We vote with our dollars (Bilingual In).”

In 2009, Mattel issued an interactive doll that would plug into the computer. The doll was a ‘tween’ Dora the Explorer. After Mattel released the silhouette of Dora’s new look. Parents were furious. The tomboy Dora had seemed to turn into a promiscuous Latina figurine. The silhouette made the doll appear to have long legs accompanied with a diminutive skirt, and long, flowy hair. The blog sites fired up with upset Latina mothers, who had feared that their once perfect idol for their children had been destroyed. The parents believed that this new Dora would have taken the place of the old toddler and preschool loving Nick Jr. character. Due to the uproar of parents, Mattel told the parents that the new Dora would be geared towards five to eight year olds age group and would not take the place of the beloved original bi-gender role Dora. In the image below, Dora’s hair, fashion choices, and body proportions have  changed. This ‘tween’ Dora appears to be more feminine then her seven year old counterpart. Her singing voice has also matured as the video below portrays.

Dora the Tomboy

 

Children embark on adventures every time they stand in front of the television set and interact with Dora Marquez, Dora the Explorer. Dora is a unique character that was developed to grab the attention of both preschool males and females, in order to teach the young children Spanish and information about Latin culture –as well as to maintain a large market for the image of Dora. The creators of Dora Marquez developed her into a curious and talented seven-year old with short hair, tennis shoes, and plain clothing –as portrayed in the photograph below this post. Dora’s behavior in the episode “Dora’s Hair Raising Adventure”, was very helpful towards others, yet assertive. In this episode, Dora counted on her map, and millions of preschoolers, to help bring the Penguin back to his home in Antarctica. Throughout the her three-step journey to Antarctica, Dora remains the confident heroine that most Americans have grown to love. Unfortunately Kingsley R. Browne suggests that “women’s self-identity and self esteem tend to be centered around sensitivity to and relations with others, while men’s self-concepts tend to be centered around task performance, skills, [and] independence,” therefore Dora’s behavioral traits represent that of both male and female(Browne, 84). Her bi-gender roles include a males sense of autonomy and a females sense of compassion. Moreover, her behaviors have received praise from Latin Feminists throughout Latin America. They believe that Dora’s lack of pride, emotional sensitivity, and confidence are behavioral traits of an outstanding woman rather than a bi-gender role figure. The Latin population also helps credit Dora for aiding with the “increased awareness of women’s rights” within Latin America and for the protection of future Latinas (Hanser, 215). Dora’s unique personality caused her to have a widespread reputation. Therefore she became the first Latina character in the Macy’s parade. Overall, Dora is a boyish girl, a tomboy, an exceptional female personality.

Dora the Tomboy

Introducing Dora and Cultural Dilemmas

Adventure! 

Adventures every morning and every evening take place on the Nick Jr. cable channel. These adventures vary in locations, events, and discoveries. However every episode encompasses one enthusiastic Latina, Dora the Explorer. Her short hair and large eyes perfectly arranged above an everlasting smile, are found on cups, cakes, shirts, and shoes in every American state and even in the United States’ Provinces, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. This seven-year-old has surpassed whimsical fame and has transformed into a international icon. Her brown-faced smile has entered her audiences’ hearts, although her innocence does not sit serenely amongst some of the American spectators. As they watch the multi-lingual show they find themselves trying to label Dora’s gender and identity. The gender boundaries are confused because her name is Dora, and she wears pink, and yet she has no bows in her very short hair, and she continuously saves the day in her plain white tennis shoes. These thoughts gyrate in the concerned adults’ minds, whom repeatedly ask themselves “Why is Dora so characteristically male?” But when Mattel produced a “tween Dora… [with] long, flirty locks” and a more feminine style of dress, the parents wildly protested against Dora’s affirmed femininity (Lauren At Parenting.com). As they focus on her characteristics, they then try to identify Dora with a culture and ethnicity, in order to typify her character. The judgments are made based on the Spanish she teaches to her pre-school audience, the Latin music that accompanies her on every one of her adventures, the traditions and locations that she portrays while on the explorations, and the architecture of the buildings within the episodes. These elements help Americans to recognize Dora as a Latina, they want to discover what Latin country she is from. However the shows have “always been ambiguously constructed” so Dora does not have a specific Latin origin. This has been intended to avoid conflict within Latin Countries, yet the conflicts were unavoidable in the United States (Fisher). Dora the Explorer found herself deeper into controversies, as her character was, and is still, questioned about her American citizenship status and her financial abilities. Numerous spoofs have been created around these two stereotypical factors, showing images of Dora climbing across the American border or receiving food stamps from the American government. The Americans perform these feats of discontent, because they feel threatened byDora’s elements of hybridism amongst Latino cultures and the culture of the United States, as well as Dora’s impediment on American cultural integrity.

Works Cited

Alford, Harold J. The Proud Peoples: The Heritage of Culture of Spanish-Speaking Peoples in the U.S. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1972. 228-234. Print.

Arciniegas, Germán. Latin America: A Cultural History. Ed. Joan MacLean. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967. 208, 288-289. Print.

Bilingual in the Boonies. “Dora Looses her Big Head, Mine May Explode.” Parenting Post. Parenting.com Network, 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.

Browne, Kinglsey R. “ Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality.” Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Gender. 5th ed. Ed. Jaquelyn W. White. Greensboro, North Carolina: University of North Carolina, 2011. 76-84. Print.

Browneyedamazon. “Dora the Latina Stereotypes Explorer.” Brown Eyed Amazon. WordPress.com, 18 Jul. 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.

Candelaria, Cordelia Chavez, et al. Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004. Vol.1-2, 124-126, 210-216, 509-512, 712-725, 815-816. Print.

Davies, Gareth. “Education Reform in the Nixon Administration: The Case of Bilingual Education.” See Government Grow: Education Politics from Johnson to Reagan. Lawerence, Kansas: University of Kansas, 2007. 141-142. Print.

“Dora Grows Up.” BusinessWire. Business Wire, 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.

Fisher, Max. “How Dora the Explorer Explains the Immigration Debate.” Strange Bedfellows. The Atlantic Media Company, 21 May 2010. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

Fuchs, Lawrence H. The American Kaleidoscope: Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture. Hanover, New Hampshire: Wesleyan University Press of New England, 1990. 275-288. Print.

Guidotti-Hernández, Nicole M. “Dora the Explorer, Constructing ‘Latinidades ’and the Politics of Global Citizenship.” Latino Studies. Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010. Vol. 5, 209-232. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

Hanser, D. Robert. “Cross Cultural Examination of Domestic Violence in Latin America.” Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence. Ed. Nicky Ali Jackson. New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2007. 212-216. Print.

“Is Dora the Explorer an Illegal Immigrant? Children’s Cartoon Character Dragged into Immigration Debate.” Staten Island Real-Time News. SILive.com, 21 May 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.

Kit, Zorianna. “Though She Will Forever Be a Seven-year-old Little Girl, ‘Dora the Explorer’ Celebrates Her 10-year Anniversary on Monday.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 6 Aug. 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.

Lauren At Parenting.com. “Dora: My, How You’ve Grown.” Parenting Post. Parenting.com Network, 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.

Macedo, Donaldo. “English Only: The Tongue-Tying of America.” Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Childhood and Society. 3rd ed. Ed. Diana S. Del Campo and Robert L. Del Campo. North Carolina: Dushkin/ Mc-Graw Hill, 2000. 246-255. Print.

Olson, Elizabeth. “Dora’ Special Explores Influence on Children.” New York Times. New York Times Company, 08 Aug. 2010. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

Simpson, Brandon. “The American Language: The Case Against the English-Only Movement.” Google Books. Google books, 2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

Sternberg, Hilgard O’Reily. “A Geographer’s View of Race and Class in Latin America.” Race and Class in Latin America. Ed. Magnus Mörner. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970. Print.

Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo M., and Mariela M. Páez. Latinos: Remaking America. Los Angeles: Regents of the University of California, 2002. 24-29. Print.

Wells, Grady. “A New Nickelodeon Cartoon Teaches Spanish and IT to Preschoolers.” Hispanic Engineer & IT. Google books, Sept.-Oct. 2000. Web. 08 Nov. 2010.

Abstract

Dora is Everywhere!     Pasted on infants’ bottles, toddlers’ easy-ups, preschoolers’ T-shirts, and kindergartners’ backpack, backpack(s), Dora the explorer has been an emblem of cultural syncretism, but her educational purpose — to celebrate multiculturalism — has developed an ongoing controversy about maintaining the cultural integrity of gender, race, and social class in America. The makers of Dora the Explorer blur American gender roles by portraying Dora as a seven-year old female with short hair who wears plain T-shirts and shorts and who asks millions of preschoolers to join her in heroic adventures. In the fall of 2009, the makers of Dora gave her a matured feminine appearance solely to market Mattel toys and computer devices to the immature female population of western civilizations (“Dora Grows”). Moreover, Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, from the University of Arizona, concluded that “immigration, migration, and settlement in the multiethnic Latino Diaspora,” are emulated through episodes of Dora the Explorer (Guidotti-Hernández). The Latino Diaspora is re-created in the language, music, colors, and architecture that exist in every Nickelodeon Production of Dora the Explorer. However, Dora does not cross only Latino cultural borders. She also brings English-speaking culture to France, Russia, and Africa due to exported programs. Furthermore, Dora the Explorer highlights issues of social class. Dora and her family’s style of attire and architecture unintentionally portray Latino culture as uniformly impoverished. Therefore, American audiences of the television show might conclude that Latinos are inferior to the Anglo-American and African-American populations (Simpson 76). The character of Dora is not simply made by composing a colorful graphic, she is an icon of cultural hybridity.