Reader Review





Reader Review of The Road to El Dorado
I saw "The Road to El Dorado" yesterday with my nephews and niece, at a sneak preview in the Chicago area. I left the theater feeling sick and angry about the horrible racist and sexist stereotypes depicted in this cartoon. I had to talk with my children for an hour so they could understand that what they had seen did not reflect any past nor current reality.

As a Mexican-American woman, I felt that the portrayal of the Indian characters in the movie was universally degrading to my gender and ethnicity; from the vacantly-expressioned childlike townspeople, to the scantily-clad loose-moraled heroine, to the bloodthirsty conniving priest, all portrayed the worst stereotypes that continue to hurt Indigenous and mestizo people today. While the Spanish heroes displayed full ranges of intellect, expression and physical ability, the Indians were all monofaceted, ignorant,sheeplike, and helpless. The religion of the Indians was shown as evil, fantastic, manipulative, and disconnected from the people, and by the end of the cartoon had apparently been thrown down by the noble Europeans.

Especially hurtful to me was the behavior and treatment of the "heroine"; the Spaniards even comment leeringly about her skimpy and revealing outfit, and she loses no time in offering herself to the White Man in exchange for a  share of the gold. It is unbelievable to me that a Spielburg movie would perpetuate this horrible image of the Indigenous woman as a whore, especially in a children's movie!! I have extensive knowledge of the Indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica, and the dress of adult women in these living cultures is in fact demure, beautifully decorated, and often displays symbols of rank or marital status.

Furthermore, this movie perpetuates the myth that Europeans "discovered" America and took possession of a vacant pair of continents. For example, when Miguel and Tulio arrive at the shores of the "New World" they don't encounter any other humans until they find El Dorado. When they rescue the bumbling Indians from the evil priest and Cortez, they seemingly cut off El Dorado from the rest of the world forever. I realize that this is a children's movie, and that realistic depictions of the Spaniards' murder, rape, disease, and forced religious conversions of Indians would have been inappropriate for kids to see; however, this movie doesn't even suggest that there were any people of any importance in the "New World" until the Europeans arrived.

I could go on and on, but I will end by stating that I will encourage all my friends, relatives, and local media to boycott this horrible, damaging film. Certainly I will be contacting Dreamworks to voice my opinion as well.


Sara Vazquez, MD

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