Saturday, May 17, 2008

Salma Hayek and the Seductive Hallucination

As I make my way around the country telling the tale of Tex[t]-Mex, I get to talk to some incredible students and people--mostly students as it is the university circuit where I ply my peculiar trade. One of the questions I get most often has to do with what the "Seductive Hallucination" in the subtitle of my book is all about, the hope being, in many cases, that if I do my job right and expose the various and myriad strains of Mexican stereotypes, that they just might go away.

Let's get this straight for the record: that's a hallucination too. Or, to put it another way, let me say this: hallucinations are real. Whether or not the person witnessing is in their "right mind" or not, they are very very very real and material for the person who senses their presence.

We are not talking here about whether or not ghosts exist, that's fodder for another blog. We are talking about the magic of repeatable entertainments--trifles like Speedy Gonzales and Salma Hayek (one animated, one flesh, both "real") that we can cue up on our Tivos and watch again and again and again.

Hayek is most interesting here (and I talk about this in the Lupe Vélez chapter that appears in both Tex[t]-Mex and Bananas to Buttocks) because she is both avatar and producer--both Pinocchio and Geppetto, to re-introduce a favorite metaphor of mine.

In any event, fans of Hayek, not necessarily of her skills as a major Hollywood producer, are all over the internet. I found this image of Hayek, a collage of screengrabs from her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (whom I loathe!). I turned it into a scrollable mural of sorts--an allegory of "Mexicans" in America in the 21st century.

Let's close with a clip from Julie Taymor's Frida (2002) in a dance sequence featuring Hayek as Frida, and Ashley Judd (!) as Tina Modotti.

I am a fan of Judd, but I suspect Tina Modotti might have been ambivalent about this casting.

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