Wednesday, February 24, 2010

¡Ándale, ándale, ándale!



Yepa! Yepa! Yeeeepaaaa!!!!
Speedy Gonzales was one of my favorite Warner Brothers' characters. He appeared on Mexican TV my entire childhood. Maybe he still does. I don't think anybody in Mexico ever thought there was anything remotely racist about Speedy Gonzales (but then again, nobody in Mexico ever thinks there is anything remotely racist about Mexico).
I think the racist claim is one made by Mexican Americans here, who are far more attuned both to the realities of diversity and to political correctness. Both are rare in Mexico.
Speedy was fast, he was smart and he had a good heart. He always outwitted Silvestre, the cat. He was the underdog, and he always saved the day. What's wrong with that? And don't forget he lived in some sort of Mexican town in the Wild West that had cantinas and señoritas and fiestas and looked like it was in the middle of the Grand Canyon. Plus, he was a mouse. Not a person. I think this makes a huge difference.
So I don't get why George López, who is about to provide Speedy's voice (God, I miss Mel Blanc), says Speedy was a racist cartoon.
I remember some really old Max Fleischer cartoons (which I also saw as a child in Mexico) of dark, ugly Mexicans sleeping with serapes, sombreros, moustaches, and burros. All they did was sleep and snore. So yes, that was a nasty stereotype (as were all the big lipped Black characters with bones sticking out of their kinky hair and the yellow Chinese people with long fingernails, etc).  That was racist.
I believe that Speedy is not a racist depiction of Mexicans. If you want racist depictions of Mexicans, go to Mexico. Try to find someone on TV that isn't white, or blond or blue eyed.

Reverse Racism

Speaking of which, I went to Ave. D in search of Mexican tostadas for dinner. Deep in the barrio. I spoke Spanish, which given my Nordic looks never ceases to amaze my Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban or Mexican homies, or any cab driver that asks about my provenance. It never ceases to amaze anybody that someone pale, with blond hair and green eyes should be Mexican. I'm way past the stage of explaining to people that my family came from Europe. This should be beside the point. The point is I speak Spanish and I'm from Mexico, born and bred. You can all pick your jaw off the floor now. In this day and age, why is this still surprising? This exhausts me.

But I bought some ripe plantains to fry for dinner and I asked the bodega owner whether I should get the very black ones or the not so ripe ones and he tells me, (after marvelling as if he was Darwin himself and had just found a new species of Blondifera Mexicana), "You are an expert on plátanos, mami".
If I were a gringa, I would be appalled and considering whether to file suit (basically he's telling me I am an expert on dicks). But he made me laugh. Gotta love the suave vulgarity of the double entendre.

3 comments:

  1. As a Mexican, I have to agree... I never thought Speedy was racist... until I moved to the US and started hearing about it... And yes, it always amazes me that people thing *all* Mexicans are brown... sure, some are, but not all. Someone once told me, while looking at pictures of family friends (blond), that "they look like Americans". Rolls eyes.

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  2. ...so of course you got the very black ones, right? ;)

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  3. Yudy, I got into a similar kind of trouble a couple of years ago when I dared saying -in a nationally distributed magazine- than Memin Pinguin was not racist... (I guess our perceptions change when we move to the U.S.) who knows.

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