Media (particularly non-Italian media) often presented Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) as a "Latin Lover", a label Mastroianni found highly unpleasant. He pointed out that he had played an impotent man, a pregnant man, a homosexual man ... and nevertheless journalists continued to describe him as a Latin Lover. Mastroianni did not get rid of this label although most of his roles on screen did not conform to this image. The very reason why has probably little to do with Mastroianni himself and more to do with the international image of Italian masculinity - a product of popular culture and the imagined embodiment of the rather uncivilised Latino whose exotic passion contrasts with the audience's more civilised society (Reich, 2004).
Stereotypes are pictures in our head that can simplify, distort, and do injury to meaning. They are also useful devices for visual communicators as they are easily understood (Dente Ross & Lester, 2011). And a fascinating effect of stereotypes is that once we have the stereotypical background knowledge we see them even when they are not portrayed.
Dente Ross, S. & Lester, P. M. (2011) Images that injure: Pictorial stereotypes in the media. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO
Reich, J. (2004) Beyond the Latin Lover: Marcello Mastroianni, Masculinity, and Italian Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, photos via and via