Tag: comedy

Wall of Denial

Yes, we’ve all been highly entertained by the chaos, comedy, bluster, and insanity of this year’s presidential campaign.

And perhaps no single concept illustrates the bizarre, parody-proof nature of this election more than Donald Trump’s plan to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the Mexican border.

 

pinkfloydwall

This idea is hugely popular with his base, many of whom are rather overt about their preferences for a certain type of skin hue. But other supposedly rational people are onboard with this proposal. Its simplicity speaks to them: “It will keep out all the illegals!”

So John Oliver recently devoted a segment on his show to how realistic Trump’s wall really is.

Just to summarize his findings, it seems that the wall would cost $25 billion to construct, and billions more per year in maintenance costs.

But that’s not our problem — right? Because Trump is going to make the Mexican government pay for it.

Well, the Mexicans themselves have no intention of spending money on this xenophobic folly, and we have no real way to make them do so.

Except of course, if we go to war over it, which Trump has not ruled out.

Naturally, we have to ask if this wall thing is really fighting about.

Well, building a wall presupposes that America is being overrun by… well, you know who.

But in that place called reality, immigration of all types — legal or illegal — is down. In fact, “the number of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally is at its lowest number in more than a decade.”

And despite all the fear, hatred, and blame thrown at undocumented people for their supposed killing and raping, the truth is that “immigrants are less, not more, crime prone than their native-born counterparts.”

So the wall would be a drastic solution to a problem that is overblown in the first place, and that is resolving itself.

Thus, the bottom line is this series of questions:

 

Do you really think the United States can force Mexico to pay for a wall?

If not, do you believe we should go to war —literally killing Mexicans and sacrificing American troops — over this?

If not, are you willing to cough up $25 billion (just to start) to construct this thing?

If so, are you aware that illegal immigration is down and undocumented immigrants are actually less prone to crime?

If so, are you aware that a wall will be of limited usefulness and not stop people who are truly determined to come here?

Answering these questions brings us to a pair of incontrovertible conclusions.

 

If you support the idea of a wall, you are possibly a racist.

But if you honestly believe a huge wall is going up in your lifetime — regardless of who is elected president — you are either delusional or actively stupid.

Now that’s simplicity.

 

 


A Latino Millennial Walks into a Bar…

 

We Latinos are known for many positive characteristics, such as our strong family bonds, fierce work ethic, and inherent sexiness (really, it’s a thing).

However, we don’t have the reputation of being particularly funny people. As I’ve written before, Hispanic equivalents to Jon Stewart or Chris Rock or Tina Fey are tough to name.

But maybe that has less to do with culture than with access.

Historically, there has been no hub for Latino comedy. To fill that niche, Broadway Video Enterprises (founded by SNL creator Lorne Michaels) recently launched Más Mejor, a new online comedy studio powered by Latino voices.

The site will feature content by Hispanic comedians and/or about Latino themes. Among the big names involved are SNL alumni Fred Armisen and Horatio Sanz, who joined together to contribute one of Más Mejor’s most popular videos so far. Other early hits include a takedown of Mexico City’s tourism campaign and a jab at every Latino’s favorite presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Future content will include topical sketches, cultural and political satire, and original web videos.

One of the site’s partners is Batanga Media, which will distribute premium content to its 70 million monthly users.

Rafael Urbina, CEO of Batanga, agrees that few Latino comedians have broken through to the mainstream. But he sees that as less of an issue — and even less of a goal — going forward.

“Crossing over into the mainstream is great,” Urbina says. “But Más Major isn’t so much about breaking through to the traditional media. It’s more about engaging with the audience directly.”

Urbina points out that Latinos in general, and young Hispanics in particular, are voracious consumers of online media. For example, Hispanics watch 62 percent more digital video than non-Hispanics.

To a Latino Millennial, therefore, it doesn’t matter if a comedian has his own Comedy Central show or was featured in a Judd Apatow movie. All that matters is whether the guy makes them laugh when they click on a video downloaded to their phones.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

“We can reach exactly who we want to reach, and not have to water down the content in hopes of reaching a mass audience,” Urbina says. “If we do that well, we will create our own mass audience. A new mainstream.”

It’s an ambitious goal, and one that goes beyond proving that Hispanics can be funny. If Más Mejor is successful, it could indicate a new model not just for Latino audiences, but for an increasingly digital world.

Urbina adds, however, that one element will always be essential when it comes to great comedy.

“Authenticity is a key pillar,” he says. “Young Latinos love comedy, and if people are authentic and talented, we now have a way for them to build a dedicated following.”

 


Gutenberg Rocks

So at long last, I can announce that my novel, Barrio Imbroglio, is available in old-fashioned, hold-it-in-your-hands, flip-the-pages glorious paperback.

onemroe

The book is a dark-comedy mystery about a reluctant detective named Abraxas Hernandez. It’s been available as an e-book for while (in places like here and here).

But now you can snag a copy in paperback form (just click here).

 

Having the novel exist as a physical book means that, should you run into me on the street, you can thrust the novel into my hands and demand that I autograph it, including the phrase, “To my biggest fan and greatest influence.”

Yes, you can’t do that on a Kindle.

 


Walk the Line

Let’s be clear. Nothing is funnier than Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The combination of the surreal, the obtuse, and the plain vulgar is still hilarious decades later.

mp2

The Python comedy troupe was well-known for skewering religion, social class, and other touchy subjects. But even these brilliant Brits had an Achilles’ heel. Python’s few forays into racial humor were uninspired, coming across more as juvenile than biting.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


Suddenly…a Starbucks

My old neighborhood in New York City has become a bit of a yuppie den. My current neighborhood in Los Angeles is apparently being overrun by hipsters.

Can any of us escape gentrification?

As I wrote recently, Latino neighborhoods have increasingly become gentrified as white people move into what used to be called the barrio. This process is either a solution to urban blight or a desecration of Hispanic culture, depending on whether you’re the gentrifier or the gentrifee (yes, I made those words up, don’t bother to comment on them).

To continue reading this post, please click here.


A Trio of Sensitive Topics

Every now and then, I have to undertake a quick roundup on contemporary issues that befuddle, perplex, or amuse me. Considering that I have been in a nonproductive haze for the last week or so (it’s a long story, and you don’t want to hear it), this is a good time for me to tackle these mini controversies, these bite-sized morsels of interest that might not warrant a full, in-depth post but that should be addressed.

First, as befitting its status, we will start with the female breast. I think we’re all big fans, but this week, the news about breasts took a decidedly Hispanic turn.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latina moms are more likely than any other group to breastfeed their babies. The study gave no reason for this, but I have to presume that the strong Hispanic emphasis on family (and therefore, upon babies and children) is one reason that Latina mothers are more willing to put up with sore nipples and occasional social awkwardness.

The researchers said that “breast-feeding benefits both mothers and their babies” but add that “the longer Hispanic immigrants are in the U.S., the more accepting they are of using baby formula. They also tend to adopt worse eating habits and lifestyles for themselves.” One researcher said, “Their health actually begins to decline.”

So for all those who say that Hispanic immigrants don’t assimilate, here is further proof that you’re wrong. Given enough time, Latinos from other countries quickly grow obese and sickly, just like the rest of us. God bless America!

Speaking of the American Dream, the favorite immigrant of Republicans, Arnold Schwarzenegger, issued yet another idiotic faux pas this week. My state’s governor said that Hispanics are naturally temperamental and “are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it.”

It’s an interesting theory of eugenics, but then again, it does come from a man who knows a thing or two about mixing races – or mingling circuitry with human flesh, same thing.

I’m not a huge fan of Schwarzenegger’s politics. For that matter, I’m not too crazy about a lot of his movies. So it’s not bias toward the governor when I say that his comments sound more like a moronic attempt to be funny than an outright slur. The target of his joke, a Latina state official, said as much. Therefore, I think we can let the guy off the hook, especially because he quickly apologized. But let’s watch it, Mr. Governator.

This brings me to my final item. It seems that I have fresh competition in the Latino blogosphere. This week, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced that he’s starting his own blog. Chavez said, “I am going to dig my own trench on the Internet,” with the intention of spreading his revolution through cyberspace. I, for one, look forward to reading the insights of a touchy head of state who is, quite frankly, a bit of a lunatic. I’m sure it will not be boring.

In addition to these brief updates, let me thank, as always, everyone who has commented on my recent posts. Yes, I’m talking to you, Niall, Clairela, Pete, and Mary Lynn. And here’s a special shout out to Ankhesen, who posted a treasure trove of Hispanic humor in the comments section for my post “A Priest, a Rabbi…”

Take a look.


The Power Duo of Lopez & Gonzalez

My wife and I were driving down the Sunset Strip when we were taken aback by one of the area’s numerous gargantuan billboards. To our horror, leering over us was the mugging face of comedian George Lopez. The enormous ad promoted his talk show or an upcoming movie or something else low-class that he’s involved in.

My wife looked at the billboard and said, “I don’t know if anyone has ever been so successful with such little talent.”

I was going to nominate Madonna for that distinct honor, but we have agreed to disagree about her. Still, my wife had a point about Lopez.

He is not particularly funny. Yes, I’ve seen worse attempts at humor: Pauly Shore, late-era Chevy Chase, and the movie “Revenge of the Nerds II” spring to mind. But the appeal of this Mexican American comic has always mystified me.

As if to compound my low opinion of his abilities, the very next day, I read this disturbing fact: New Line is planning a live-action/CG feature film of Speedy Gonzalez. The fleet-footed rodent will be voiced by none other than George Lopez.

Lopez and his wife, Ann, are producing the movie, which indicates that this misguided project isn’t just a work-for-hire but some kind of twisted labor of love.

I’ve written before about the love-hate relationship that Hispanics have with Speedy Gonzalez. Among other things, the fact that he is quick and clever is outweighed by the inescapable symbolism that he is a thieving rat.

Ann Lopez acknowledges Speedy’s problematic image. She says the movie will be modernized so that the character is “not the Speedy of the 1950s – the racist Speedy.” She further adds that the film will have “the Latino seal of approval.”

For some reason, I’m not filled with confidence by her assertions. But perhaps we should just give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the movie will be charming and funny and poignant. Perhaps it will provide an insightful look at Hispanic culture. Hell, let’s just predict that it will be brilliant and win twenty-seven Oscars.

After all, how can it go wrong with the guy who voiced “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” onboard?


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