18
Racism, sexism, classism and lookism in the
Peruvian television comedy programs*
Racismo, sexismo, clasismo y lookismo en los
programas cómicos de la televisión peruana
Rubén Darío Alania Contreras**, Cryst Marynes Pecho Reyes***, Zayuri Karim Gutiérrez Gala****,
Daniela Isabel Dayan Ortega Revolo*****
*
Original article derived from the research project
entitled: “Racism, sexism, classism and lookism
in the comedy programs of Peruvian television.”
Funding entity: Universidad Nacional del Centro
del Perú, held between December 2018 to
September 2019.
**
PhD in Education. Universidad Nacional del
Centro del Perú, Huancayo, Perú.
E-mail: ralania@uncp.edu.pe
ORCID: 0000-0003-4303-1037
Google Scholar
***
Master in Public Management. Universidad
Nacional del Centro del Perú, Huancayo, Perú.
E-mail: cpecho@uncp.edu.pe
ORCID: 0000-0002-1562-1489
Google Scholar
****
Bachelor of Communication Sciences. Universidad
Nacional del Centro del Perú, Huancayo, Perú.
E-mail: zgutierrez@continental.edu.pe
ORCID: 0000-0002-2881-081X
Google Scholar
****
Student of Communication Sciences. Universidad
Nacional del Centro del Perú, Huancayo, Perú.
E-mail: danisarev@hotmail.com
ORCID: 0000-0003-2586-5556
Google Scholar
Received: June 24, 2019.
Accepted: February 17, 2020.
Cite this:
Alania, R.D. et al. (2020). Racism, sexism, classism
and lookism in the Peruvian television comedy
programs. Espirales. Revista multidisciplinaria de
investigación cientíca, 4(33), 18-27.
Abstract
With discriminatory subtlety, the television media in
Peru tend to highlight the country’s social or ethnic
differences. Comedy programs are the ones that most
resort to such forms, as a common resource for easy
laughter. The aim of the research was to determine the
level of discriminatory content of Peruvian TV comedy
programs. The study, of simple descriptive design, had
as sample 24 editions of two programs broadcasted at
a national level, released between April and June 2019.
The Discriminatory Content Analysis Sheet, designed
for this research, was used as a tool. It was found out
that discriminatory content occupies 51.6 % of the
comedy programs studied, with the predominance
of direct messages and with hierarchical and
heterophobic nature; in addition, the content is related
to the ethnic group or socioeconomic status of the
character they discriminate against. The research
concluded that there is a high level of discriminatory
content in Peruvian TV comedy programs; the most
frequent is the racist and classist content.
Key words: Racism, sexism, classism, lookism,
discrimination, comedy sketches.
Espirales. Revista multidisciplinaria de investigación cientíca, Vol 4 , No. 33,
April-June 2020. e-ISSN 2550-6862. Pags 18-27
DOI: 10.31876/er.v4i33.727
Espirales. Revista multidisciplinaria de investigación cientíca, Vol 4 , No. 33,
April-June 2020. e-ISSN 2550-6862. Pags 18-27
Rubén Darío Alania Contreras, Cryst Marynes Pecho Reyes, Zayuri Karim Gutiérrez Gala y Daniela Isabel Dayan Ortega Revolo
19
Resumen
Con sutileza discriminatoria, los medios televisivos en el Perú tienen
la tendencia de remarcar las diferencias sociales o étnicas del país.
Los programas cómicos son los que más apelan a esas formas como
común recurso para la risa fácil. El objetivo de esta investigación
fue el de determinar el nivel de contenidos discriminatorios de
los programas cómicos de la televisión peruana. El estudio de
diseño descriptivo simple tuvo como muestra 24 emisiones de dos
programas de emisión nacional, difundidos entre abril y junio de
2019. Como instrumento se aplicó la cha de análisis de contenidos
discriminatorios, diseñado para la investigación. Se halló que los
contenidos discriminatorios ocupan el 51,6 % de los programas
cómicos estudiados, predominando los mensajes directos y con
carácter jerárquico y heterofóbico; además los contenidos están
relacionados con el grupo étnico o nivel socioeconómico del
personaje al que discriminan. La investigación concluyó que existe
un alto nivel de contenidos discriminatorios en los programas
cómicos de la televisión peruana, siendo los más frecuentes los
contenidos racistas y clasistas.
Palabras clave: racismo, sexismo, clasismo, aspectismo,
discriminación, comedia de sketches.
Introduction
The media have assumed the role of dynamizing agent within today’s culture, being the main
instructor of lifestyles, aspirations and values in the new generations. Discrimination through
the media occurs in a process based on motives such as ethnicity, economic position, social
status, sexual orientation and others, building stereotypes that, when disseminated by the
media, are received in the collective imaginary.
Racism, sexism and classism are recurrent cultural phenomena. Cerda (2004), maintains
that, in Latin American countries, racial prejudice commonly takes the form of class prejudice,
with the division of classes corresponding to the division of races or ethnic groups, this close
relationship with color prejudice being it is because in advance it is thought that an Indian
or a black belongs to the lower class, which is why in several countries money is laundered.
Bastide (as cited in Cerda, 2004), arms that in South America, skin color is more a class
prejudice than a race prejudice. According to the Fowks (2018), in a study carried out in Peru,
“28% of people attributed discrimination to their skin color, 20% believed that it was due to
their income level, and 17% expressed that the cause was his facial or physical features.”
Espirales. Revista multidisciplinaria de investigación cientíca, Vol 4 , No. 33,
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Racism, sexism, classism and lookism in the Peruvian television comedy programs
20
The racial classication of the human being is ideological or aesthetic, not a scientic truth:
Races do not really exist. Despite this, racial discrimination is a common fact in all ethnic
groups, becoming racial prejudice is a cultural issue that occurs even within the same
group (Parra, 2014). Classism is analogous to racism; it differs from it in that it is based on
socioeconomic situation or status.
Sexism is the discriminatory attitude due to sex or gender differences and promotes
stereotypes and social roles that establish the differences; lookism, is discrimination based
on the physical aspect of the person based on aesthetic reasons, unlike other discriminatory
forms, it can be an involuntary and automatic reaction, which may obey unconscious
aspirations of beauty canons validated by advertising and the media (Torres, 2019).
In Peru, day by day it is observed that television discourse has become a constant source of
discriminatory content, which implicitly or explicitly appeals to racism, sexism or classism;
contents that actually reect prejudices fed through many centuries in Peruvian society
and are cyclically fed back by the mass media, which legitimize their coexistence in society.
According to Ardito (2014): “Despite the fact that the white population with European features
is a minority in our country, it has a marked predominance on Peruvian television” (p. 8), and
it is they who are presented as models of beauty.
Always controversial, the comedy-type comedy sketches, for several decades have led
the television rating, however, looking back over the years, it is observed that the comedy
resources remain the same, in them prejudices, stereotypes and discriminatory forms are
directly or subjectively concealed in humor. They are the formats that are perhaps most
loaded with discriminatory content, which are subjectively covered in the joke; its language
and images denote through parodies or symbolic speeches, stereotypes and prejudices that
are deeply rooted in Peruvian society, displaying an empathic and often violent humor.
Due to their content, these programs have been included in the so-called “junk television
group by various civil society groups, between February and March 2015, they organized
massive marches at the national level, calling for the implementation of regulators that
limit the excesses of television content. Today these controversial programs are still on the
screen, leading the tune and with a broad economic return that justies the support of the
pragmatic television broadcaster.
There is a need to improve television content, due to its strong educational and cultural
role; however, the path of censorship is unsustainable, anachronistic and undemocratic.
In this context, self-regulation through education at all levels is presented as an adequate
alternative that develops media competence in citizenship (European Commission, 2009).
This competence is understood as the ability to perceive, analyze and enjoy the power of the
messages, images, stimuli and sounds that are perceived by the media.
Espirales. Revista multidisciplinaria de investigación cientíca, Vol 4 , No. 33,
April-June 2020. e-ISSN 2550-6862. Pags 18-27
Rubén Darío Alania Contreras, Cryst Marynes Pecho Reyes, Zayuri Karim Gutiérrez Gala y Daniela Isabel Dayan Ortega Revolo
21
The discriminatory, racist, sexist, classist and look-based contents of the comedy programs
are the subject of study; subjectively concealed in humor, they reect the aspirations and
biases of the collective imagination of Peruvians.
According to Loewenstein (as cited in Parra, 2014), the human brain is designed to form
prejudices, stereotypes and other cognitive biases because it lters the large amount of
information it receives. Almost always unconsciously and immediately. However, when
these biases are institutionalized, legitimized and violently practiced, preventing an
adequate coexistence of individuals within a society, limiting their aspirations; a worrying
social problem is generated, which could deeply undermine the social structures and
destiny of a country.
In this sense, the research sought to answer the problem: What is the level of discriminatory
content of comedy programs on Peruvian television? Aiming to determine the level of
discriminatory content of comedy programs on Peruvian television.
Taking as background the studies by Cerda (2004) carried out in Chile who concluded that
racism in Chile has been mainly hierarchical and heterophobic; Alarcón and Torres (2016),
who concluded that the stereotypes of the Andean woman from the humorous programs of
Peruvian television are negative basically due to the physical appearance and the intellectual
appearance that is made of them; Cassano (2014) concluded that in the Peruvian soap
opera, the female representation of the character Natacha, version 1970 and 2010, gender
systems operate in different ways in different times and societies.
The study aims to be a starting point, from which proposals for the development of media
competencies are prepared in the face of the mass media and promote inclusion, tolerance
and healthy coexistence in society.
Materials and Methods
Research according to its purpose was basic, according to Ñaupas et al. (2014), because it
serves as a foundation for applied research and is essential for the development of science.
The level is descriptive, according to Sánchez and Reyes (2006). The research design was
non-experimental, transectional, simple descriptive, according to Hernández, Fernández and
Baptista (2014).
The population was made up of broadcasts in 2019 of the comedy sketches “El Wasap de
JB” of Latina, produced by Jorge Benavides and “Oe… ¿Es en serio?” of ATV, produced by
Carlos Álvarez, both broadcast on Saturdays between 8:00 p. m. and 10:00 p. m.
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Racism, sexism, classism and lookism in the Peruvian television comedy programs
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The sample consisted of 24 broadcasts of the comedy sketches, 12 of each of them,
broadcasted between April to June 2019.
As a research technique, systematic observation was applied and as a data collection
instrument, the Discriminatory Content Analysis Sheet was designed for this investigation.
The instrument aims to measure and analyze discriminatory in comedy television programs,
consists of 21 items, which address four dimensions: racism, sexism, classism and lookism.
The validity of the instrument was evaluated through the judgment of nine experts, as a
result an Aiken V coecient of agreement of 0.9 was obtained, which meant high validity.
Results
Frequency distribution of the information obtained
Table 1. Frequency of discriminatory content
Discriminatory content
Frequency (%)
Wasap de JB Oe… ¿Es en serio? Total
Racism 11.9 % 14.8 % 13.35 %
Sexism 12.7 % 16.2 % 14.45 %
Classism 13.6 % 12.5 % 13.05 %
Lookism 9.3 % 12.2 % 10.75 %
Total 47.5 % 55.7 % 51.6 %
Note: Level of discriminatory content: low: 0 to 25, average: 26 to 50, high: 51 to 75, very high: 75 to 100.
Source: author’s own elaboration.
Table 1 show that the total accumulated discriminatory content frequency in percentages
is 51.6 %, which places it at a high level. It is also observed that the dimensions of the
discriminatory contents have similar frequency, with sexism being more predominant (14.45
%), and lookism being less frequent (10.75 %). It is also observed that the program with the
highest discriminatory content is Oe… ¿Es en serio?
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April-June 2020. e-ISSN 2550-6862. Pags 18-27
Rubén Darío Alania Contreras, Cryst Marynes Pecho Reyes, Zayuri Karim Gutiérrez Gala y Daniela Isabel Dayan Ortega Revolo
23
Table 2. Characteristic of the discriminatory message
Intentionality of the message
Frequency (%)
Wasap de JB Oe… ¿Es en serio? Total
Direct 18.45 % 26.75 % 22.6 %
Offensive 6.7 % 11.82 % 9.6 %
Ambiguos 22.35 % 17.13 % 19.74 %
Source: author’s own elaboration.
Table 2 show that direct discriminatory messages are the most frequent (22.65 %),
especially in the program “Oe… ¿Es en serio?” Ambiguous discriminatory messages have
a similar frequency (19.74 %), this type of message being more frequent in the program
“El Wasap de JB.”
Table 3. Particularity of the discriminated character with whom the discriminatory content is related
Character peculiarity
Frequency (%)
Wasap de JB Oe… ¿Es en serio? Total
Ethnic group 10.32 % 9.8 % 10.06 %
Language 5.7 % 5.3 % 5.45 %
Socioeconomic level 10.6 % 8.5 % 9.55 %
Intellect 4.3 % 7.2 % 5.75 %
Lifestyle 7.9 % 3.02 % 3.66 %
Ugliness 1.3 % 6.5 % 3.9 %
Body 4.78 % 5.4 % 5.09 %
Manners 3.5 % 5.3 % 4.4 %
Age 5.5 % 6.4 % 5.95 %
Sexual choice 5.6 % 5.9 % 5.75 %
Others 3.4 % 5.2 % 4.3 %
Source: author’s own elaboration.
Table 3 show that the particularity of the character to whom the discriminatory content is
directed is predominantly related to the ethnic group (22.65 %) and the socio-economic
level they represent (9.55 %).
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Discussion
The results of the investigation reveal that there is a high content of discriminatory messages
in the comedy programs of Peruvian television. It can be deduced that discriminatory forms
such as racism, sexism, classism and lookism have a hierarchical and heterophobic nature,
since differences are evaluated inferiorly and negatively, thus coinciding with the ndings of
Cerda (2004) in Chile, who also found those characteristics. Racism and classism have a
continuous relationship in the analyzed contents, reinforcing long-standing stereotypes with
negative representations of the physical and intellectual aspect of the Andean population.
Sexism is another discriminative form that also occurs on a social continuum, relegating in
many of the sequences of the programs to the role of a complementary woman or sexual
object, homophobic contents that are usually the most offensive must also be considered
in this discriminatory way. Lookism or discrimination by physical appearance increasingly
appeals to more direct messages and is related to racism and classism, confronting in many
of the stories to Caucasian characters of high class or socio-economic level and physically
attractive, against half-blood, indigenous or black people, of low socioeconomic level, naive
or careerist and physically grotesque (Bruce, 2007).
The problem is not only due to the irresponsible attitude of some comedians; to understand
the phenomenon, it is necessary to deepen into the dynamics of the social structure and
ideas. The results obtained call for reection on social imagery, through which differences
in Peru are perceived, and the reinforcing role played by the mass media, where truths and
aspirations are encrypted in comedy. The discriminatory contents of comedy programs are
actually ideological representations that reect the social unconscious of a weak national
identity and the common representation of repressed elements; the backgrounds of this
social character go back centuries, through events and social conicts that the post-truth of
ocial history has underestimated.
In Peru, 84 % of the media are centralized in Lima and in the hands of only three groups, Latina
and ATV are two of them. Taking as a reference to what was stated by Thompson (1984),
comedy sketches in Peru reinforce the status quo that is sustained in an ethnocentric social
structure, where the differences of those with the least inuence are prohibited. According
to Adorno (1975), class consciousness is reected in classism; in the capacity to explicitly or
hiddenly show one’s own condition and that of another class, it is generally understood from
the dominant class towards the dominated and not the other way around.
Gramsci (2017), warned that the media, which have achieved cultural hegemony, justify the
social, political and economic status quo, as if it were natural, inevitable and benecial; attitude
that is instrumentalized by the agreements and interdependence relations that the media
maintain with the economic and political powers. With this hegemony, the media system
has the capacity to x senses and ideologies, since it selects what should be seen, read and
Espirales. Revista multidisciplinaria de investigación cientíca, Vol 4 , No. 33,
April-June 2020. e-ISSN 2550-6862. Pags 18-27
Rubén Darío Alania Contreras, Cryst Marynes Pecho Reyes, Zayuri Karim Gutiérrez Gala y Daniela Isabel Dayan Ortega Revolo
25
heard by the public (De Moraes, 2015); in this sense, discriminatory contents contain latent
messages that, in tacit consensus between the media and the audience, acquire ideological
signicance that is nourished by differences, polarizing the idealized with the discriminated.
The media choose the social actors that represent them.
Ardito (2014), when studying discrimination in Peru’s programs, recommends that the
media have an ethical committee that prevents the transmission of programs that humiliate
people because of their physical appearance, place of origin, surname, sexual orientation
or social class. The Peruvian state, through the Radio and Television Advisory Council, has
implemented in 2016 the Observatory of Diversity in Media; and in 2017 the observatory
Alert against Racism, through the Ministry of Culture. Both have had valuable contributions
and important actions; however, as the present investigation shows, regarding comedy
programs, discriminatory contents are still very present on Peruvian television, hidden in the
rhetoric of humor.
In the current context, determined by the hegemony of the media, “media discourses are
committed to the selective control of information, opinion and value judgments that circulate
socially” (De Moraes, 2015). There is undeniable the need for an education appropriate to the
new media contexts, since there is an inability to reason the media content in a large part of
the population, leaving them to shape aspirations, values and intellect.
Is it possible then a democratized social reduction, regarding tolerance with ethnic, social,
sexual differences and representations of beauty?
It is a possibility that can be achieved starting from the conciliation of interests between
the media, power groups and civil society; Peru is a diverse country and that diversity is its
greatest possibility for development. Turning off the TV, blocking the website or censoring
the media are not the solution, only the development of media competence in the population
is sustainable, this implies training in the person, abilities to interact critically and creatively
with the media, both consuming as producing content (Mateus, 2018).
Conclusions
There is a high level of discriminatory content in the comedy programs of Peruvian
television. The discriminatory contents of the comedy programs on Peruvian television
are predominantly racist and classist, which is at a high level. The level of the sexist
and look-based content of the comedy programs of Peruvian television is average.
The discriminatory messages of the comedy programs of the Peruvian television are
commonly direct.
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Racism, sexism, classism and lookism in the Peruvian television comedy programs
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The discriminatory contents of the comedy programs on Peruvian television are hierarchical
and heterophobic. The discriminatory contents are more frequently related to the ethnic
group and socio-economic level that the discriminated characters represent.
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