¡Ask a Mexican! Was Walt Brown?

Disney's heritage, and a really bad film

Dear Mexican: You once asked why Mexican bands don't hit it big in the good old U.S. of A. I think the simple answer is that there are no Mexican Mouseketeers. You don't get to be Justin Timberlake by picking a guitarrón. Slater from Saved by the Bell doesn't count. The real question is why Disney, a company that started with its first big park in Anaheim and introduced us melanin-deficients to topiary and churros, denies its Mexican heritage? —Paddy O'Furniture

Dear Mick: Disney and Mexican heritage? What herenciaDonald Duck in the enjoyable World War II propaganda piece The Three Caballeros? Those old Tijuana Bibles showing Minnie Mouse walking into a room and finding Mickey sodomizing a grinning Donald? The thousands of piratería statues, piggy banks, piñatas, and every imaginable tchotchke sold by enterprising Mexicans from tourist spots in Mexico to stateside swap meets? Exploitative working conditions that inspired a memorable protest outside Disneyland last summer featuring cops arresting hotel employees dressed as Disney characters? That cantina scene in A Bug's Life in which the Kevin Spacey–voiced grasshopper gave a thinly veiled screed warning against the Mexican invasion of America? Surely, you don't mean to reference Walt Disney's supposed Mexican heritage? The Mexican once heard a Chicano studies teacher state proudly with a straight face that gabacho parents adopted the Mexico-born Disney and that the history books hid this fact so Mexican students couldn't claim him as part of la raza (and we wonder why public schools fail brownies so . . .). Actually, the myth is that Disney was born José Luis Girao, the illegitimate child of Spaniards who was summarily put up for adoption in the United States. The most thorough Disney-as-Spaniard examination appeared in a November 30, 2001, article in the British newspaper The Guardian, but no concrete proof exists. That doesn't stop some Mexicans from trying to claim him (along with Thomas Alva Edison, Jimi Hendrix, and Chewbacca) as one of their own, including people who should know better—the Library of Congress once included Disney in a display honoring Latinos a couple years back.

Do Mexicans really think A Day Without a Mexican is a good movie, and that California would completely, instantly collapse if Mexicans suddenly disappeared? Isn't that what psychologists and psychiatrists call "delusions of grandeur"? Do Mexicans think non-Latinos cannot operate the sophisticated piece of technology that is known as a "gas-powered leafblower"? And they do realize that millionaire musician Beck, one of the most Anglo guys out there, used to be a landscaper with a leafblower? —Gabacho

Dear Gabacho: Where to begin . . . how about disputing your assertion that Beck is muy gabacho? He isn't—he named an album Guero (missing the umlaut over the letter u, it literally means "light-skinned," but is slang for a gabacho—if you're learning this for the first time, read this column more closely! And if you're really paying attention, you'll know this is the third time in as many years I've answered a Beck/Guero-related question, although each in different contexts. Why can't I get more queries about Luis Pérez Meza?) and incorporates Mexican rhythms into songs, and visuals into his albums, because he grew up among wabs in Los Angeles. Not many Mexicans, gabachos, chinitos, negritos, or anyone really liked A Day Without a Mexican; the 2004 film grossed only an estimated $4.1 million at the box office, and it's yet to become a cult classic among Mexicans, like Born in East L.A. or the Charles Bronson canon. Mexicans do believe this country can't exist without cheap immigrant labor—it's not called "delusions of grandeur," but "knowing American history and how capitalism operates." Finally, of course we know gabachos can operate leafblowers—that's why you'll never see one use it to make a living unless their education is at a Guatemalan level of stupidity.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, myspace.com/ocwab, or facebook/garellano, find him on Twitter, or write via snail mail to Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!

 
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