Tag: Speedy Gonzalez

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?


Andale!

I’ve always had issues with the guy.

I know his good qualities outweigh his bad ones. After all, he’s smart, crafty, occasionally funny, and in his own way, even heroic.

But he’s a thief. And he’s a filthy rodent, which is hard to overlook.

So what do we make of Speedy Gonzalez?

Let’s not get all freshman term paper here, but there are obvious cultural connotations to the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Like every piece of art, they reflect the society and times in which they were created.

The only Hispanic character, to my knowledge, was Speedy Gonzalez. He was a leading man whom kids were supposed to root for. And he always won the day due to his bravery and quick wits.

But the symbolism is inescapable: He was a sneaky mouse determined to steal cheese. I might add that all his friends were lazy cowards. And if the connotations weren’t clear enough, how about that time the mice were trying to sneak across the border?


To be fair, Latinos actually come off better in the old Merrie Melodies than do blacks, Asians, or Southerners. The animators seemed to have special disdain for the French, whom they personified in Pepe le Pew – a rude, oblivious, dimwitted sexual harasser who reeked (and he wasn’t funny either).

They were ahead of their time when it came to gays, however, unless you think it was a coincidence that Bugs Bunny was always cross-dressing. Somebody on that writing staff was just dying to out himself. But I digress.

In any case, the creators of Speedy Gonzalez were, I believe, trying to be positive. They just couldn’t get past the stereotypes. And they were also culturally confused when it came to Latinos. After all, why else would the king of Spain have a Mexican accent (as displayed in the immortal line, “It’s flat like your head”)?

By the way, if anybody knows if they still air Speedy Gonzalez cartoons, let me know. It would be a shame if the kids of today missed out on him… or maybe it wouldn’t, I’m still not sure.


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