Doctored photos of Dora jumping the border fence, pulled over by Arizona police, in jail, and many others scenarios have been spreading like wildfire across the Internet. I got several emails last week and now media outlets across the United States and in Europe have picked up on the phenomena.
The Observer posted the above cartoon by Steve Breen in its editorial pages Wednesday. Click here to see more of Breen’s work.
Several Facebook pages have been created. The Huffington Post even created a fake story about Dora’s capture.
"The young girl from south of the border, dressed in her brightly colored fiesta clothes, was rounded up in a raid of an Hispanic neighborhood preparing for Cinco de Mayo festivities, her famous talking backpack confiscated and examined by the FBI. Within it was found a mysterious map which provided evidence of some possible illegal activity coded "Search for the Lost Treasure." Dora carried no documents such as a green card, or even a passport, so it was clear that she had smuggled herself over the border, taking with her the dangerously cheerful Cousin Diego, Boots the possibly rabid talking money, and the mysterious talking backpack and map, which the Sheriff described as "sophisticated electronic devices designed to outwit our border police."
Probably the most circulated picture is of a black-eyed Dora with a bloody nose. It’s been one of the most emailed photos on Yahoo.com for the past three days.
Time Magazine reported the picture first started appearing on anti-illegal immigration websites, but it now is being used more by opponents of the Arizona’s new immigration law that requires police to check the immigration status of those suspected to be in the country illegally.
The cartoon was created last year by Debbie Groben of Sarasota, Fla., for a contest on the fake news site FreakingNews.com.
Groben told the Associated Press that she was trying to do “something funny, something irreverent.” Groben opposes the Arizona law.
Experts have picked apart the phenomena, studying the overwhelming response for clues to better understand our cultural psyche of the balance between race, ethnicity and the law.
"Dora is kind of like a blank screen onto which people can project their thoughts and feelings about Latinos," said Erynn Masi de Casanova, a sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, told the Associated Press. "They feel like they can say negative things because she's only a cartoon character."
"She's always been ambiguously constructed," Angharad Valdivia, who teaches media studies at the University of Illinois and has explored the issue, told the AP. "In the U.S. the way we understand race is about putting people in categories and we're uncomfortable with people we can't put into categories."
Yet, it’s not all Dora. Other cartoon characters, via the late night comics, have also been taking advantage of the media hype.
On Twitter, Conan Brien posted this comment Sunday. “Pac-Man’s 30th birthday was marred by the sudden deportation of the Super Mario Bros. What were those fools doing in Arizona?”