“I don’t feel like we should make Mexican jokes because people will get upset,” one of the hosts of The Great British Bake Off, Noel Fielding, said on the episode’s promotion. “What, not even Juan?” his co-host Matt Lucas responds. “Not even Juan,” Fielding said. Cringe.
This was how the popular British baking competition show, which also streams on Netflix, The Great British Bake Off’s social media presented the show’s Mexico Week episode (Season 13, episode 4). The official tweet reads: “The juan and only Matt & Noel welcome you to Mexico Week!” To no surprise, social media users were shocked and insulted by the show’s choice of words, costumes, presentation, y pues todo.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 4, 2022
Why is this so offensive? Isn’t it just a joke?
A Twitter user, whitneyd, weighed in: “None of this is funny. Not the joke, not the outfits. If we’re supposed to be excited that you’re highlighting Mexican baking… You’ve failed. I’m dreading this instead.” Another Twitter user, Tom Vásquez, said: “I had a moment where I wanted to watch this episode just to see how bad it was. That moment has passed. I’m so incensed that they don’t realize how vile and racist this crap is.”
Even journalists online also took note of the popular show’s offensive jokes. Azucena Rasilla, arts and community journalist who reports for The Oaklandside wrote: “Delete your whole account. This is embarrassing and tasteless. Y’all should know better.”
The promo and episode demonstrates how much the U.K. doesn’t make an effort to understand Mexico and its culture. They didn’t even try to pronounce the essential words right – check out how they pronounce “guacamole.”
"where to put the guaki-monglow." 😂😂 https://t.co/tHydY1OHMF
— Daniel Hernandez ✍🏽🌞 (@longdrivesouth) October 6, 2022
Now, if this appears as a simple “Juan” joke or a passable “Cinco de Mayo” costume party – you’re wrong. It’s overplayed, outdated, and simply lame.
What ‘The Great British Bake Off’ could’ve done instead
NPR talked to a professor of Mexican cultural studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado, about why it’s problematic. Within his answer, he points out how since it’s a baking show, they missed an opportunity to showcase detailed Mexican baking traditions.
“What if they have instead looked into wedding cookies? Or empanadas? Or made something with bolillos and teleras?” he told NPR. The actual baking show’s episode challenges included a tres leches cake, pan dulce, and, of course, tacos.
He continued: “It would have been deeply meaningful if they had actually done work in researching actual Mexican baking traditions… Instead, they have incensed Mexicans, because once again a major global outlet insults us by reiterating stereotypes and reductions against which we fight.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Personally, I love the show. It’s funny, easy-going, and great to watch most time. But based on this episode’s stereotypical promotion and played-out “Mexican” jokes, it makes me think that they only chose our beloved and rich Mexican culture to fill in this season’s “diversity” checkbox.
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