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Seth Rogen's new film Sausage Party is not for everybody. It is the most adult of animated films. There is certainly material within the movie that some will find offensive. However, one website is now apologizing to their readers for simply reviewing it. A website dedicated to progressive feminism has pulled their review of Sausage Party, which focused on Salma Hayek's portrayal of a lesbian, or possibly bi-sexual, taco, because many found it to be racist.
After we published the review, we heard from Latinx readers who believe the portrayal of Salma Hayek's taco was racist and that it reinforced harmful stereotypes. We heard from readers who were upset that we labeled the taco a lesbian when it seems more likely that she was bisexual. We heard from readers who questioned the consent of the sexual encounter between the taco and the hot dog bun. We heard from readers who found the taco to be a damaging portrayal of a predatory queer woman.
There's little argument that many of the characters in Sausage Party play into some offensive stereotypes. The apology on Autostraddle, makes reference to the fact that several of the film's reviews point out that it seems to do this intentionally, in order to make some statements about those stereotypes. However, the issue isn't so much that the character was a stereotype, so much as any discussion of that stereotype needed to be handled properly, and the site admits that it was not. The review argued that the taco character was a positive portrayal of a queer latina character, however, Autostraddle's Latinx readers viewed the portrayal as racist. Since the writer of the piece was apparently white, and the ethnic stereotyping was not specifically addressed in the piece, the site realized it may give the impression of condoning the stereotyping.
Autostraddle has now posted their extensive explanation and apology, while pulling the review off their site entirely. The decision has met with a variety of different responses from readers. Comments for the apology have been shut down on because they appear to have begun to get out of hand, which is unfortunately not surprising.
It's certainly a difficult line to walk. On the one hand, as this apology states, you're dealing with an animated movie that anthropomorphizes food. It's supposed to be bizarre. At the same time, the stereotypes are very real, and they can be very hurtful to some. The fact that it's a taco doesn't actually change much. What's more, as Autostraddle is forced to admit, they're mostly white, which makes it literally impossible for them to really know what things will offend and what will not.