Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rita Hayworth, Charles Vidor, Gilda | When Electrolysis Proxies for the Existential



Tex[t]-Mex's oldest chapter, the one that started it all in a way, features a mouthful of a moniker that goes by the name of "When Electrolysis Proxies for the Existential: A Somewhat Sordid Meditation on What Might Occur if Frantz Fanon, Rosario Castellanos, Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Spivak, and Sandra Cisneros Asked Rita Hayworth Her Name at the Tex[t]-Mex Beauty Parlor."

If I had the chapter to write over again, I think I would have spent many more pages teasing out the allegories implicit in the Charles Vidor 1946 Rita-vehicle Gilda. Seen here, in an image whisked away from Dr. Macro's inimitable site, is the face (or is it 'faces'), that launched an existential and follicular crisis in the history of Latina figuration. The electrolysis-assisted odyssey that lead "Mexican" Margarita Carmen Dolores Cansino to Hollywood bombshell Rita Hayworth, is one for the ages.

Additionally, in a clip here from via TCM that I wished I could have embedded in my book, I have also included the infamous "Mame" sequence from Gilda.

Don't think for a second that Rita (aka Margarita Carmen Dolores Cansino) and Vidor, the director, are not aware of the irony of the song's lyrics.

Here, in a picture from last year, your Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblogger reveals his affections for Margarita Dolores Cansino!


  1. This sequence in the film captures quite a lot- I am forced to think how Gilda's past as a dancer/party-girl is deemed sufficient basis for determining her worth as a woman and value as a spouse. She believes Johnny has only been able to marry her because not everyone is aware of her past and therefore exposes herself to the entire nightclub as a revenge. Later, when Johnny finds out she didn't really sleep with any other men he wants her back. And what was so noble, moral or squeaky clean about his own past, one might ask,that put him in a position to make these judgements. The answer? Nothing more than being a man gave him this right in the eyes of himself, the general public and seemingly Gilda herself. The pervasiveness of gender stratified social mores is laid out quite clearly here.

  2. After watching the clip and the film itself, Gilda and her friendly characteristics encompass a control that was placed over women and seen throughout the film and the time period. When Johnny believes that Gilda cheated on her, she is practically kicked to the curb, erased from Johnny's mind and thoughts. And yet when the truth is discovered he takes her back without a care. All the while Munsin tells Gilda who to see, speak to, dance with. This control, committed by both men reveals the lack of balance between female and male. However is Gilda not guilty for allowing this control to occur, is she not the one going along with this ownership of herself? The question then remains, is she even in a position that she wants to get out of. Or is this comfort, or control, a form of security that she doesn't want lifted.

  3. I have realized you are using Rita Hayworth as a icon of your Tex-Mex project. This arises from a (deliverate?) misconception. Rita was American, not Mexican or with any Mexican origin. His father was Spanish, i.e., from Spain (Sevilla)and his mother Irish.
    I support your cause, but you are not true when you say Rita was "Mexican".

  4. Thanks! Read the RITA chapter in the book and write back! Cheers, Bill