Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Speedy Gonzales, Gonzales Tamales, Marijuana, and the Acme of "Mexican" Stereotypes

Friz Freleng is a genius and one of the aims of Tex[t]-Mex is to do justice to his vision--not for nothing does chapter three engage in a detailed analysis of Freleng and Jacques Derrida's unpredictable similarities. No, I am not joking! Freleng and Derrida! Freleng's position in the Hall of Fame of American Cultural Artifacts is secure, as is his place in the rogue's gallery of magnificant stereotype imagineers.

Recent forays on the net led me to a decent "print" of Freleng's Gonzales, Tamales from 1957. It is a curious animated short wherein Speedy is betrayed by his comrade mice for stealing "all the ladies." Listen late in the piece for Speedy's sung marijuana bit:

Freleng's colleagues at Warner Brothers include another genius, genius-crafter of stereotypes, by the name of Bob Clampett. His "masterpiece," Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, is also available via youtube here:

1 comment:

  1. dayum profe, that "marihuana pa fumar" bit is pretty radical for a 50's cartoon. Given the demonization of pot at the time, it is fairly subversive. Then again there is a certain "safety" in attributing the smoking -and celebration of said smoking- to obviously Mexican characters, given the stereotypes of "dangerous reefer smoking Mexicans" prevalent at the time.

    Speaking of stereotypes, isn't there a couple of subtexts hidden in this piece? The envious rodents, conspiring to bring in the large, powerful, but inept gringo to rid themselves of domestic rivals. The rats as stand-ins for "vende-patrias" or "vendidos", bringing on yankee intervention through their own mendacity. Speedy/Pancho Villa getting chased by the ponderously slow Sylvester/Pershing.