Between great and grating
I like reading your articles—they are funny, sad, insightful, crude, serious, and even a little provocative and antagonizing at times. One thing I find a little antagonizing is the use of the term “Latino” as a synonym only for “Hispanic”; certainly yours is not the only forum in which these two terms are used interchangeably. I’ve noticed that you tend to favor “Hispanic” quite a bit more than “Latino”—thank you for that. While I may sound racist by making that remark, I am actually trying to raise cultural awareness and combat racism. I see it everywhere, and its use is absurd and has become ubiquitous. The Latins as a people, a culture, a language, a tribe, came from ancient Italy. On employment applications or government forms, the race or ethnicity section doesn’t include anyone other than Hispanics as synonymous with Latin(o). Where is the room for us Latin-Europeans? Us Italians, or French or Portuguese? As Italian-Americans, we rarely even get associated with a culture that came from our own land! See how racism can take many forms? Some that most aren’t even aware of! Thanks, and hope to hear back from you.
—Livid Latin Lover
While I appreciate you regularly reading my columna, methinks you’re not poniendo much attention. If I ever use “Hispanic” in this column, it’s usually in disparaging terms, as that’s a creation of the Ford administration. I barely even use “Latino,” since this is a column about Mexicans and only Mexicans (with the occasional jabs at coños, carajos, conchas and catrachas, of course). All of this said, I agree with the spirit of your letter, and urge you to direct your ire not toward Mexicans, but rather intellectuals. It’s 19th-century French intellectuals, after all, who promoted the idea of a Latin America in opposition to Anglo-Saxon America in France’s eternal struggle against the English. It’s the love of anything French that drove intellectuals in Spanish-speaking countries in that era to warm up to that idea of pan-Latino identity in their eternal struggle against gabachos. And it’s gabacho intellectuals up here who bought into that idea in their eternal quest to categorize Spanish-speaking folks as subhuman, carrying on a clash of civilizations that goes back to the Spanish Armada trying to kill Good Queen Bess. Don’t believe the Latino hype: Mexicans will only consider themselves Latinos for welfare, Hollywood roles and affirmative action. The rest of the time, we’re puro mexicanos, cabrones.
It has come to my attention that when I watch YouTube videos of 1980s music, whenever I sample a lot of the Italo songs, that a lot of Mexicans comment on the videos. Basically, anything including Patrick Cowley, Rofo or Mike Mareen would have Mexicans commenting in, mostly to give their memories of that era. My question is how did Italo dance and hi-NRG became so popular with Mexicans, at least the Mexicans from Mexico? And don’t forget in more recent years “El Pollito Pio” and “Macarena.”
—Interested Dance Music Fan
Don’t forget “Vamos a la Playa” (“Let’s Go to the Beach”) by Righeira, a danceable tale of nuclear holocaust along the coast covered by Los João and immortalized in Lola la trailera, the Mexican Smokey and the Bandit except with more murder and mujeres. And you can even toss in “Eva Maria,” a 1960s ditty by Spanish pop group Formula V. Point is, Mexicans love synth-heavy pop dreck—embarrassingly so. Sometimes, great music comes out of this amor—witness grupero groups like Los Barón de Apodaca or Bronco, pop geniuses such as Los Bukis, or “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, the greatest song in human history. But most of the times, it’s just terrible—look at Timbiriche or whatever youth group Televisa is placing on a telenovela. Italo dance and 1970s- and 1980s-era Euro dance falls somewhere in between great and grating, which means Mexicans will dance to it. Hell, Mexicans will dance to anything—what else explains the popularity of Manaacute;?