Mexican culture gets bowdlerized

Dear Mexican:

I’m a (poor) white girl myself, but I have to ask: What’s the deal with all the rich white girls playing such a big role in Fiesta? Why is it always rich white girls who get crowned? Don’t you think the majority of them should be Mexican girls since it’s Fiesta? Why has this gone on so long? Time for a change in the royalty!

Poor Confused White Girl

Dear Gabacha:

A bit of context is needed for the readers before I proceed.

Cabrones: Poor Confused White Girl refers to Fiesta San Antonio, an annual springtime celebration in the River City dating back to the late 1800s that, like the city, has undergone many transformations over the decades. It’s quite the spectacle, but it originally served the specific political purpose of romanticizing the city’s contentious past with its Mexicans, from that whole Alamo desmadre to the simultaneous romanticizing and demonizing of the “chile queens” (the original Mexican street-food hawkers immortalized by writers as diverse as Stephen Ambrose and O. Henry). The best treatment of Fiesta is Laura Hernández-Ehrisman’s 2008 book Inventing the Fiesta City: Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio, and it’s a worthwhile read for socio-historical nerds like me.

But why should non-San Antones care about Fiesta? Because it illustrates America’s eternal bowdlerization project with ethnics. Here in the Southwest, we’re used to gabachos celebrating their vanquished wabs, from Olvera Street in Los Angeles to the cactus-leaning sleeping peons of Tucson to the Hispanic histrionics of Santa Fe and the gabacha queens of Fiesta. But at least those civic boosters liked some aspect of us, no matter how twisted or “Spanish” their fantasy heritage for us was; that was better than the reverse whitewashing happening now, where we see the swarthy masses of the past now lionized as the anti-Mexicans: the immigrants who were greeted with open arms and no discrimination because they were legal. The historical record disproves those narratives no matter how many weepy-moany chain e-mails Know-Nothings send, contrasting the immigrants of the past with the Mexicans of today. I say, give me the gabacha Fiesta queens over any romanticized Sicilian any day of the semana.

Dear Mexican:

I read that Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce is questioning the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone born in the United States is a citizen of the United States. I believe the last senator who questioned that law was a cartoon senator on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Am I correct?

J.T. Ready Is a Pendejo

Dear Wab:

No, I think you meant Benjamin Tillman, the South Carolina Democrat who liked lynching the way Mexican men like gabachas.

Dear Mexican:

How come all the really hot girls are on the Mexican television stations? I watch the Spanish talent shows, news reports and soap operas to see the really hot girls. There is no comparison with the gabacho stations. Just last night, I compared the average women on the local stations (who look like the majority of out-of-shape girls I see every day) to the hot, sexy Latin chicks. It’s a bit of a problem in that I end up sitting and watching television, not knowing what the hell the people are saying and not really caring.

More of a Paulina Rubio Guy Than a Thalia One

Dear Gabacho:

Mexican television executives bowdlerize our culture even better than gabachos. The day that a telenovela or nationally aired program casts a dark-skinned, chubby woman as a lead who is not playing an Indian maid, is not a comic foil and isn’t a saintly mother — you know, a gordita portrayed as an actual person — is the day that Arpayaso joins MEChA.

Categories: News