Seductive Hallucinations of the
"Mexican" in America
Galleryblog devotes itself to the aggressive, relentless, and, at times, pathological interrogation of Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, "Hispanic," Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotypes; it is an online cyber-supplement to a new University of Texas Press book.
Professor | San Diego State University
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Please update your link! This site will remain here as an archive of older posts!
| January 25, 2007
Who would have thought that the veritable grandfather of celebrity-blogging, Rex Reed, would have the cultural studies skills to parse the depths of Latina semiotic complexity and notoriety, But I guess if Gene Shalit can be outed as a pre-Derridean seer (viz p.44, Tex[t]-Mex), then why can't Reed (film fetishist and would-be kleptomaniac) join the ranks of Art Aldama, Rosa Linda Fregoso, and Chon Noriega as knowing arbiters of the Latino visual culture?
This link does double service as our Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblog has done a woefully poor job warehousing untoward representations of Puertorriqueños, Dominicanos, and our other and various Latino/a hermanos y hermanas. Reed's take on Moreno begins to redress this pernicious imbalance.
| January 24, 2007
Mexican Triple Crown
If we are to spend time in these "pages" lamenting grotesque figurations of Latinas and Latinos in US mass culture, we ought to spend at least as much time championing relative successes, as with what happened this week when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tapped three Mexican filmmakers for Academy Award nominations. Has Oscar gone ga-ga for the children of Aztlan? Before we break out the piñatas and Tecate, however, Babel's director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, wisely kills our buzz: My film "is not about 'I am Mexican, and you are American,' " he said. "The point is we are human, and we are born naked before someone puts stupid passports on us and raises a flag."
|Wednesday | January 24, 2007
The December 12 entry on Touch of Evil, below, has been updated with a link to a cool film-culture piece by B. Ruby Rich. Cheers!
| January 23, 2007
The marriage of high fashion, indy jewelry (think the Suicide Girls meets David Yurman) and ethnic American avatars of mexicanicity (Speedy Gonzales) come together in today's Press Release of the month--a shining broadside announcing the marriage of Tattooed Steel and Warner Bros. in the production of wearable, metal facsimiles of the fastest mouse in all Mexico. Readers of this galleryblog are welcome to purchase your humble author a sample for his next birthday!
|Tuesday | January 23, 2007
New correspondent Jim Ricker writes in with a cool link to a xmas-themed piece of Chicano indy animation worthy of note.
| January 19, 2007
Dave Chappelle, an African American and Sacha Baron Cohen, a British Jew--both incredible comics; each remarkable mimics; together, a dynamic duo who travail against the ravages of stereotypes even as their most cherished characters embody them--a blind African-American klansman, in the case of Chappelle, a doofus Kazakhstanian anti-Semitic reporter in the case of Cohen). But their profitability, with Chappelle responsible for the best-selling dvd in the history of DVDs and Cohen, the progenitor of a multi-million dollar film smash, is equal to or of less value than their roles as articulate critics of the logic and power of stereotypes. YouTube is filled with Chappelle outtakes, but one of his best interviews is to be found on Inside the Actor's Studio. Meanwhile, if you are researching stereotypes and have 46 minutes on your hands, the Sacha Baron Cohen interview with Terry Gross on NPR's FreshAir is one for the ages. Here reproduced? One of Cohen's more outrageous outtakes:
| January 17, 2007
Of all the peculiar stories in the annals of American ethnicity, American History, and American Hair, the tale of Rita Hayworth, born onto the planet as Margarita Carmen Dolores Cansino, represents perhaps the oddest. No surprise then that one of the chapters in Tex[t]-Mex, "When Electrolysis Proxies for the Existential," devotes itself to a dutiful perusal of this ethno-follicular narrative replete with Hollywood studios discovering a much-too-Mexican-looking Rita Cansino and transforming her into the de-Mexican-hairlined Rita Hayworth--that she was not "Mexican" to begin with only adds to the "fun." Surfing Google recently, I found that a recent auction that featured not just two classic stills of va-va-voom Rita (one from Gilda, the other from The Lady from Shanghai), it also featured a lock of her hair. If The University of Texas Press had the resources, I would have like to have included a facsimile of these shorn locks in every volume--as is, I will have to rest content with the color illustration montages which turned out better than I could even imagine. The photos, with hair, sold for $603.75.
| January 12, 2007
Latina bombshells--Lupe Vélez, Rita Hayworth, et al--make up a good portion of the Tex[t]-Mex book now in general release. Next generation Latina lollapaloozas remain all the rage these days strutting their stuff in much the same way as their abuelitas bombshellistas. For a case in point, delight now via the magic of hyperlinks to the ins and outs, pardon the pun, of my Tejana comadre from Corpus Christi, Eva Longoria, as represented in the paparazzi pages of Egotastic.com. Between the titillation of her alleged lesbian crushes and the heteronormative semiotics of her risque Esquire magazine spread, all bases and sexual predilections are covered.
As a purge for all this predictable next-generation Latina bombshell nonsense, rest your eyes at chicanas.com.
|Saturday | January 7, 2007
s this Galleryblog relentlessly concerns itself with issues of Latina/o misrepresentation, you might think its ringleader has been seduced and have utter faith in the notion of correct, proper, or accurate representation--nothing could be further from the truth. Any text, any image, any word-wrought or image-laced rendition of something is charged with hermeneutical complexity, rendering the possibility of perfect representation as something as common as second comings. That said, it is pretty easy to glean out the offensive from the progressive, the chaff from the wheat (to continue the biblical metaphorics), and when it comes to top-shelf semiotic wheat, cream-of-the-crop trophy iconographic progressivity, especially with regard to Latina/o figuration, we turn here again to the graphic scribblings of Lalo Alcaraz! Alcaraz knows that greater than any problem of Mexican and Mexican-American stereotyping, the chief failing of American mass culture is the figuration of any of us at all!
Holy Mengele! or Cesar Chavez rolls in his grave on the way to the Orthodontist!
I will be pilloried for sure, but if we are going to traffic in comments on stereotypes, race, gender, and ethnicity, we also have to come clean about Mexican, Latina/o, and Chicana/o takes on the same. Hence the following academic finding from The Angle Orthodontist: An International Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics authored by Martha Mejia-Maidl, Carla A. Evans, Grace Viana, Nina K. Anderson, and Donald B. Giddone (html or pdf, pick your flavor), that finds, among other things that "Mexican Americans...preferred upper or lower lip positions to be less protrusive than the Caucasians, particularly for female computer animation images." Which may mean, among other things, that Edward James Olmos may not be dating Meg Ryan--at least not in the short term. More seriously, while said article may just be the result of test subjects confronting badly photoshop-mangled images, it also shows how the "hard-sciences" continue to traffic in the concretization of race.
|January 3, 2007
The Moot Court executive board at UCLA has quite a vivid imagination when it comes to the winning menage-á-quad of Mexicans, immigrants, sex-crimes, and booze. Timidly tap this link, with massive trepidation, to feast your eyes on a tale of stereotypes akimbo, with a somewhat happy ending.
What a load off my mind! Finally, I can relax! For years, dear reader, I have suffered the pain of wearing band-aids that were not my skin color! For decades, tears have riven furrows 'cross my face as I walked through a world where bandages mocked the skin color of my Latina and Latino hermanas y hermanos! Like some vestigial cousin of the flesh crayon, Band-Aids continued propagating the charade that we all bled on skin canvases that were all the same color!
Now, at long last, we rest, our friends at Johnson and Johnson having followed the progressive souls of Binney and Smith. Click the box for a close-up!
|January 1, 2007
Galleryblog's first post of the new year finds us in a generous mood as we tip our sombrero to a cool site on the internet chock full of info and insight on the gnarly, insidious, and, at times, irrevocable chaos of stereotypes, in particular, Latino and Latina stereotypes.
LA CARA LATINA: BREAKING AWAY FROM STEREOTYPES, an undergraduate project at Skidmore College, produced by Gwendolyn Bluemich and Jeffrey Cedeño, and supervised by Professor Viviana Rangil in her Images of Latinas class, is a first rate WWW repository of research, images, and discussion on mass media Latina semiotics. For excellence above and beyond the call of duty, I extend to Bluemich, Cedeño, and Dr. Rangil our first Speedy award™! Trophy opposite.
Let's end 2006 with some hope and a selection from an extended interview with Charles Ramírez Berg, a film studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Ramírez Berg was incredibly generous to me during the research phase of Tex[t]-Mex, going so far as to share some of his own Library of Congress video research of 1920s Hollywood Greaser films. Said generosity is NOT always the norm in academe! Here's the Q & A:
RACHAEL SHAW JONES: Is that why the issue of stereotypes and representation of minorities by Hollywood concerns you?
CRB: Let me tell you this story. In the summer at UT they used to have orientation for the Fulbright Scholars who came to the U.S. to study. The orientation would try to show what a college campus and courses are like, and they would have guest lecturers, and then these foreign graduate students would go on to whatever college they were going to attend.
A couple of summers I gave talks about stereotypes. I was getting ready to describe the six Mexican stereotypes beginning with El Bandido, because I figured this is an audience of foreign students, what are they going to know about El Bandido? Something stopped me and I said, "Let's see if you can describe El Bandido . . . " And they did, very accurately, down to details. Then I asked them where that came from. Hollywood doesn't even make that many westerns anymore. I never referred to a movie or a character or an actor. Then I started thinking about the power of the stereotype. Here they are, students from Europe, Africa, Asia, all over the world, not an American in the group, and they had that stereotype in their minds. I started thinking about the global dissemination of the stereotype. If you have never known a Mexican, that might be your only point of reference.
|December 27, 2006
With all the time Galleryblog spends touting the latest and greatest examples of Latina/o-laced stereotypes and cultural oddities--the cyberequivalent of a circus sideshow bearded lady with a sombrero and a swarthy mustache--it gives me pleasure to tout the ever-burgeoning antidote to these stereotypes as well. Enter Gilbert Hernandez, the most prolific Chicano writer/artist on the planet (ok, his brother Jaime is up there as well). Click the gagged artist's mouth opposite to start your spelunking or view this comprehensive list of his latest works here. Also, just spotted, a very cool and extensive interview with Beto regarding his latest efforts can be siphoned off the WWW right here!
|December 23, 2006
We can now sleep easy at night knowing the marketing agents at TARGET are zealously policing the shelves keeping the American public safe from the semiotically pathological (or is it the pathologically semiotic?) virus named Che Guevara! For a relief from this corporate timidity, check out the Department of Chicana/o Studies at SDSU!
|December 22, 2006
When it comes to the smorgasbord of human "flavors" that make up our Latino/a universe, nuance is always a good thing; and, unfortunately, it is mostly a rare thing. Hence the pre-navidad pleasure in perusing the writing of Daniel Hernandez in LAWEEKLY. His "Shades of Brown" article should be required reading for real and would-be West Coast Mexi-intelligente.
Hit the image or jump on this link.
Special Adult Entry addition of the Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblog.
Click here to proceed--but only if you are 18 or older; PhD optional.
|December 21, 2006
Those who religiously follow the trials and tribulations of Speedy Gonzales, "The Fastest Mouse in All Mexico," will be thrilled to learn that he will soon morph from animated ersatz "Mexican" into a cyberanimated ersatz "Mexican." For more on this, click the grossly updated simulated "Mexican" to your right! Tex[t]-Mex's chapter three, "Autopsy of a Rat: Sundry Parables of Warner Bros's Studios, Jewish-American Animators, Speedy Gonzales, Freddy Lopez and Other Chicano/Latino Marionettes Prancing About Our First World Visual Emporium; Parable Cameos by Jacques Derrida; and, A Dirty Joke" purports to be the last word on all things Speedy! Gamers have seen to it that it is already obsolete!
University of Texas Press designer Lisa Tremaine's cool cover for Tex[t]-Mex has gone public with a January 20, 2007 date now official for the book going public. Click the image to see a full-size version of the back, spine, and front of the University of Texas Press volume.
Right on the heels of the Mexican-American doll controversy (see the November 29, 2006 entry below), comes the revelation that there is a relatively healthy EBAY market for Cinco de Mayo Barbie dolls. That Mattel saw fit to commemorate Cinco de Mayo with an ersatz, booby, hot chica mini-mannequin, must make Benito Juarez smile if not whirl like a dervish in his grave. Two Seductive Hallucination Galleries, contained in Tex[t]-Mex, offer an archive of materials like this MexiBarbie.
In a way, the Touch of Evil/Orson Welles chapter of Tex[t]-Mex is where the book started way back in the day. Originally published in Chon "Choners" Noriega's Chicanos and Film with the University of Minnesota Press (for which I am eternally in debt), the essay reappears in the University of Texas volume in a "director's cut" edition--gratuitously illustrated, revised and updated, and with some of the more nasty jokes restored! Welles-focused tomes are all the rage these days as summarized in this cool article from The Philadelphia Enquirer reprinted in popmatters.com.
Lastly, one of the best pieces on Welles's opus and on Welles in general is a 2003 brief by B. Ruby Rich for the UK Guardian.
The Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblog is pleased to introduce a new feature wherein anonymous and named scholarly correspondents check in with Seductive Hallucination findings, foreign and domestic! The first comes to me from the Ludic Studies specialist and Americanist Professor Michael Harper, lately of Mt. San Antonio College, but more powerfully acknowledged as the Claremont Graduate University's (think Ivy League, "West Coast") most beloved alumni!
Here's his note with a link!
To: Bill Nericcio <memo AT sdsu.edu>
From: Michael Harper <mwharper AT adelphia.net>
Subject: my name is earl...
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2006 08:09:52 -0800
Last night's episode of My Name is Earl(NBC) was titled "South of the Border"--need I say more? John Leguizamo starred as a Bugle Boy jeans-wearing gangster with the usual suspects--typical "mexitypes." It was strange to see this right after talking to you about the textmex blog. Lemme know what you think...
What do I think of this brilliant dreck?! Having watched much of the episode, I am inclined to admire the throbbing health of Mexican stereotypes.
The creator of the show is Gregory Thomas García--I have no idea what unusual, peculiar, or particular geneto-culturo-ethnographic lineage he and his body purport, whether or not he is a living and breathing hijo de la gran chingada or a son of Mexico (or both!); even so, it is safe to conclude that ironies are everywhere. Garcia's own take on My Name is Earl and the aims of comedy are fascinating:
I think the sweetness, the secret of that, just comes from the story. I mean, when we sit down to break a story, sometimes we don't even try to break a story thinking, 'Okay what's gonna be funny?' because we have very talented writers who are gonna make it funny. We think of 'What's a good story?... And as long as you have a story that earns you an emotional moment at the end I think you can go all kinds of places on the way there and hit all kinds of crazy and pushing the envelope moments as long as the audience really feels that there's a genuine emotional component that they can latch onto it. Not all of our stories are gonna have that; some of our stories are gonna have less of it than others 'cause it's hard to come up with 24 stories a season that really give you that true feeling at the end of it. So rather than try to force that feeling down someone's throat in a story that doesn't necessarily warrant it, we would probably go in the direction of just making that story funny. [link]
"Just making the story funny": cue the stereotypes!
The stereotypes in "South of the Border" are funny because they are familiar, and familiar because they are funny--the blood stains of communities in conflict, stereotypes never fade away, no matter how hard you try to wash them out, no matter how strong the cultural studies bleach. The introduction and Speedy Gonzales chapter of Tex[t]-Mex deal with this extensively.
For a mainstream, "Hispanic" take on Latina/o 'celebritati,' see Hispanic Magazine's photo-laced trough of Latina/o wonders!
November 29, 2006 | Wednesday
Some pieces just speak for themselves!
Another journalistic take on the American Girl Mexican-American doll controversy is here.
27, 2006 | Monday
Michelle Serros's writing, Oliver Mayer's plays, Culture Clash's teatro, Gustavo Arellano's satiric columns and Lalo Alcaraz's cartoons are all high Renaissance avatars of a post-movimiento Chicana/o aesthetic--what they share in common is a knowing and incisive wit, a savvy 21st century humor in a jugular vein dynamic that is a welcome rejoinder to over a century of corrosive "Mexican" stereotypes. Alcaraz's Sunday "funnies" spread this week is typical in this regard:
|November 26, 2006 | Sunday
One of the pithier chapters in Tex[t]-Mex casts its leering eye on the corpus of works on, not to mention the ethnically volatile body of, the one and only Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Dolores Cansino--a top shelf global celebrity who may or may not be "Latina." Hayworth ended her life in the vicious fogs of an Alzheimer's induced madness, a fog of gnarly fictions from which there is no exit (chapeau to Beckett). Dr. Barron H. Lerner, writing in the LA TIMES, holds forth on some of the nastiness surrounding this living hell. Click on these state of the art blue letters or on the smiling Hayworth for direct access to the sordid details!
The Speedy Gonzales Chapter of Tex[t]-Mex, a revised and updated version of a piece that originally appeared in Camera Obscura, features several close readings of Warner Brothers cartoons featuring the antics of the "fastest mouse in all Mexico." YouTube, recent adopted "child" of Google, generously provides us access to one of these--Robert McKimson's TOBASCO ROAD:
Someone whose probing eye riffs with the rasquache vibe (think Jacques Derrida in Cantínflas-drag) of the Tex[t]-Mex project, is Gustavo Arellano, a Swift-like Chicano satirist whose work appears in the OC Weekly. Or maybe, to be totally honest, it is Tex[t]-Mex that aspires to match the funny and dead-on indictments, disclosures, jokes, political jabs and nasty revelations that make his Ask-a-Mexican column the hit it is! Nestled in the heart of Gringolandia, dodging the jibes and punches of Southern California anti-Mexican voodoo (as close as you can get to a national pastime in SoCal), Arellano's virulent semantics are enough to make a Califas skinhead pee his pants. Arellano's bon mots make up part of a key sequence in my study of the seductive hallucination of "Mexicans" in America.
For my indulgent readers who have been clamoring for video on this site, I forthwith produce here via the magic of internet streaming (uncanny voodoo in its own right) illustrative samplings of the late Jacques Derrida and Cantinflas. Cantinflas, born Mario Moreno Reyes, (1911-33), and not just by the way, had a father who worked in the post office; so did I. Food for thought for Pynchon-styled conspiracy theorists!
The later chapters of Tex[t]-Mex document recent trends in Latina and Latino representation in U.S. mass culture that suggest a countersurge of dissonance vis-a-vis traditional stereotypes! Check out Happy Feet to see what I mean. There is a striking allegory with regard to the clash of Anglo-Saxon/Puritan stolidity and Latin sass that undergirds most of the motion picture. Definitely a step forward from the killer crickets/grasshoppers in a sombrero boozing it up to Mexican music in Pixar's A Bug's Life. Some smattering taste of this is palpable in this early trailer for the film:
to November 21, 2006 entry: dateline November 24, 2006
The San Diego Union Tribune, never championed in this sector as a defender of Chicanas/os and Latinas/os, rushes to our defense in the writing of Lee Grant--no known relation to the seventies TV femme fatale and blacklisted actress. In the fluffstory opposite, Grant, attacks Happy Feet for trafficking in stereotypes--in particular, Robin Williams's (channeling the ghost of Mel Blanc, no doubt) vocal characterization of "Ramón"--a randy "Mexican" penguin.
What Grant misses or ignores is that said gaggle of stereotyped penguins, Ramón, Lombardo, Nestor, Raul, and Rinaldo, are responsible for the safety, succor, education, friendship and guidance of the big gringo penguin male lead, Mumble, voiced by Elijah Wood. And while this quintet of Latino-accented characters do indeed perform gratuitously disturbing public acts of stereotype reinforcing, they also embody a kind of Latino dasein that disrupts the Gringo core of the film--in particular, the Elder Emperor Penguins who find Mumble's dancing, (Savion Glover, animated and translated into CGI) a source of cultural anarchy.
November 7, 2006
A major chapter in Tex[t]-Mex deals with the remarkable history surrounding the creation and the critical reception of TOUCH OF EVIL by Orson Welles. Welles himself is all over the news these days with the appearance of two major biographies. See this story here off Reuters or click Welles's cherubic mug opposite for more recent Welles coverage.
During the Mexico/United States War in the early part of the 20th Century, U.S. soldiers regularly posed with the remains of Mexican soldiers for postcards--the myspace pages of their time. TEX[T-MEX, covers this in its introduction and its chapter on Speedy Gonzales.
Posted here is a link to see the latest version of this gruesome practice where the spoor of war provides visualized spectacle of pleasure for warriors and witnesses alike.
original link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=412624&in_page_id=1770
sites & blogs (continued)