Tuesday, March 20, 2007
If "Mexicans" are Synonymous with Dangerous Dark Sexuality then "Africans" Equal Savages
A certain irony occurred to me even in the days when I was home in Laredo, Texas, watching Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies (waiting for flashes of Maureen O'Sullivan in the lagoon sequences). Whenever the drums sounded, I knew that danger was in the offing, and that, pretty soon, the mise-en-scene would be filled with dark, screaming, bone-wearing, spear-hurling, face-painted "Africans." I knew also that Tarzan would find some way to sooth the swarthy beasts (being half-ape himself). Tex[t]-Mex unearths amazing and late, great, Eddie Said on Tarzan--well worth the read!
The irony? I was always sort of a radio-loving, morse-code parsing goober. I knew intellectually that the drums were a form of proto-longrange communication system and that far from ominous, dark, occult, and hence evil (recall: I am a recovering Catholic), said rhythmic rumblings were nothing more and nothing less than a Nextel antecedent, some early incipient form of long-distance text-messaging: "Trzn 8nt cool," or something like that.
The image above, 1950s sensation-pulp by Ron Turner, is a fine entry in this field of Africanesque figuration. Thanks to drawn.ca for the headsup!
Semiotic psychic enemas for the foregoing materials is to be found in the critiques of Bogle, Gates, Marks, and Golden.