Sepia Stereotype

Have you ever been watching a film made by a company in the United States that displays all other countries as ‘third-world’ through adding a yellow/orange filter over the scenes that take place in those said countries? For instance:

I can’t even count the amount of times I have watched films made by American companies about countries (like Mexico for example) that attempt to display these completely normal and developed cities as being outdated/dangerous/underdeveloped by adding a yellow haze over the screen. Many film companies claim that this sort of editing is useful in “adding character” and a vintage feel to your footage, but many would argue that it is misconceiving to the actual state of foreign countries. There is a technique that has been explained in this use of colors for distinguishing setting in movies – using white and blue tones for colder areas (like when movies take place in northern/Eastern Europe) and yellow/orange tones for warmer areas (such as Central/South America, The entirety of Africa for some reason and the Middle East) – all according to the perspectives of the filmmakers. However, this sort of repetitive technique in movies ends up creating this sort of perception of these ‘foreign’ countries, making it feel as though the countries are stark and different to the United States. “You reduce the entire experiential scope of being in a place to this one visual queue, which is queued to make you never feel comfortable and never feel safe there.” (Mashable 2021). American movies in general seem to love pushing stereotypes – Central and South American people as entangled with drugs, Middle Eastern people as “dangerous”… all wrapped together neatly with this doomed filter so you know it’s coming. Even the trend for movies taking place in Japan to be extremely neon and vibrant. “Meanwhile, blue—the direct opposite of yellow, in terms of color theory—represents futuristic, vibrant and progressive societies.” (Ullmann 2020).