A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Representation, Race, The Border, Comics and Education

A popular Mexican cartoon character is drawing the ire of some American residents who have seen his countenance on comic books in their local stores, due to his appearance. CNN covers the story here. Some are saying the stories of the character taught them life lessons. Others feel the exaggerated features of the character -- reminiscent of old-timey depictions of African Americans (though the character is Cuban and Mexican in heritage) -- present images of insensitivity. Memin Pinguin, as he is known, is one in a long line of lovable scamp characters that have often inhabited comic strips and comic books and usually have represented stereotypical qualities based on notions of race, class or gender.

His appearance in U.S. stores is a contact zone engaging, border-crossing hot button topic to be sure!


Bucky C. said...

Here's The story as reported by somoene who knows a little about borders and comics and diverse populations

Unknown said...

Memin is a Hispanic comic book and was position for hispanic spanish speaking customers here the reason why the lady had to buy a dictionary we hispanic don't see things black and white like Americans do my brother is black and i'm hispanic white we both been through this many times we hispanic's are a crisol de razas which mean a mix of all race's we didn't experience the slavery part as bad as here in the US and we can laugh about it and joke about bcz is our culture once again this comic book was for our culture and just because someone fell offended for something that was not related to her we had to pay the price of not having our comic book available I'm thinking now PETA or any other tree hugher is going to complain that Condorito should be remove as well. i respect what africans American went through but we'll also appreciate some respect for our Culture. we are all inmigrants on this country unless you are native american we can trace your lineage to someone that was born outside what we call today USA.

Bucky C. said...

Yeah, you'll note how I didn't pass judgement one way or another. The reason being wrapped up in what I think you implied: we're dealing with different cultures' points of view on things. I think most Americans would view the image as a racist one. However, just because we see something in a certain way doesn't mean other cultures see it the same way (your main point), and who are we to impose our beliefs on another people or culture? That's what we've been trying to avoid as we become more multiculturally inclusive and accepting, right? Yet, I know what I just wrote would just be too much for some of me Caucasian and African American friends to stomach. They'd see the image as racist no matter what and therefore needing to be illiminated. A bit of irony, I think, that who would otherwise espouse equity and understanding among various cultures would jump on this image. But it does put me in an awkard place as I consider it as an issue, to be sure.

In a broader intellectual sense, this image broaches the question "Can any drawn representation of humanity escape being, to some degree, a characature or stereotypical representation?" Afterall, if it doesn't have noticable eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc., the mind's eye might struggle to see it as human. But the image is not the thing itself, but a representation of it, and poorly done no matter how accurate it looks in terms of actually matching the thing/person itself. No matter how hard we strive towards realism, can we ever escape stereotypical representation in the visual arts? Is it a very necessity?

Thanks for your post! I appreciated your perspective and insights!

Bucky C. said...

great commentary on this in the comments section over at the pulse

From fols more knowledgable on the topic than I.