Directile dysfunction

Media maven

Media maven

State of confusion: Are you, like Bites, incapable of finding your own ass without the aid of a global-positioning system? Rest easy, brothers and sisters, for we are not alone. We may now count Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger among the official numbers of the perpetually lost. It’s become quite clear that not only doesn’t Arnold know the way to San Jose, he also can’t pronounce it, either.

Who knows what possessed the governor, at the 25th annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists held in San Jose last week, to lash out at Spanish-language media? “Turn off the Spanish-languish television,” commanded the King of Ka-lee-forn-ee-a, and the great unwashed Mexican masses will discover learning English is a snap. For crying out loud, he continued, “even in the state capital, so many Latinos speak Spanish all the time.”

WTF was he thinking? Some say, in a sort of reverse Grinchmosis, Ah-nolds’s brain shriveled three sizes that day—possibly the result of massive steroid use during his bodybuilding career—trashing the state’s Latino vote and any chance he might have had at Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat.

Bites sees a different malady at work: Call it directile dysfunction. This incurable narcissist craves public attention like Beyoncé craves pork rinds. Yet he’s so out of touch with ordinary people, he’ll say anything to gain their adoration. So here he’s hoodwinking the global-warming crowd, and there he’s wooing the Minutemen. Quite literally, he can’t see the political forest through the trees. In a word, he’s lost.

Mexican radio: OK, Bites knows it’s not “Mexican” radio. It’s Latino. Or Latina. Damn. It seems that when it comes to Spanish-language media, Bites, like our dear leader, knows next to nada. So Bites called someone who does know the lingo: Sacramento’s own Amador Bustos of Bustos Media, which owns and operates dozens of Spanish-language radio stations across the western United States.

“What don’t we understand about the medium, which is the fastest growing in the country?” Bites asked Bustos.

“First of all, Spanish-language media is not significantly different than English [or any other non-English] media,” Bustos answered. “It is simply an entertainment, information and commercial vehicle. There is more Spanish-language media in the U.S. simply because the Hispanic community is growing faster. This high growth rate is not only due to strong immigration inflow, but also because of higher birth rates among Hispanics.”

But wait, there’s more!

“What the governor does not understand about media in general, and television in particular,” Bustos said, “is that it is a terrible education or language-teaching instrument.”

D’oh! Arnold’s bad!

Bustos move: Like many Latinos, Bustos didn’t take Schwarzenegger’s remarks lightly. Arnold’s comparison of his own immigrant background to Latinos is apples and naranjas, according to Bustos.

“My God!” he said. “The Mexican and Austrian immigration experiences are significantly different; one group lives next door and the other is across the ocean. I am very concerned about a governor who thinks about educational or social-mobility concepts only in terms of his own experience. We all start from that basis, but as an occupant of a key policy-making position, one needs to have enough mental agility to ask the question: What if my immigrant experience does not match 99.9 percent of the rest of the population? This concept can be symbolized by the fact that not all of us can become a world-champion bodybuilder, a mega movie star and be able to marry a Kennedy … all in one lifetime.”

Will the governor’s remarks have any effect on Spanish-language media?

“Spanish language will continue to flourish as long as there are viewers, readers or listeners attracted to the medium,” Bustos said. “The last time I checked, the U.S. was still a profit-based economy with a strong free-enterprise business culture.”

Right on. Or, as the Latinos say, simon, ese.