Friday, June 10, 2005

Is it really so strange?

Has it really been this long? I can't even begin to think about all the excellent crap that's gone on since my last post. So I won't.

Instead, I'll point you (and I don't know who on earth you are since I don't tell anyone about this thang...) to William E. Jones' website. Because, first of all, my new favorite writer - Iain Aitch, more for his subject choices than any mind-blowing stylistic feat, but remember, taste is the new talent, so Aitch qualifies as ABSOLUTE GENIUS - wrote an article about him.

But most importantly because Jones' film Is It Really So Strange? has got to be the most wonderful example of cross-cultural pollination in recent pop history. Strange? documents a scene in East L.A. where young Latinos have become, en masse, OBSESSED with Morrissey and The Smiths. There are entire club nights where nothing but Moz's stuff is played, and a Latino-fronted Smiths cover band - The Sweet and Tender Hooligans.

Of course, in a way, I s'pose it makes perfect sense: The Smiths is all about being alienated within a culture that is supposed to embrace you, and which you are supposed to embrace. The Smiths, and Moz too, is, as Aitch put it, "shorthand for middle English, middle-class, late-teen angst". It's about being intensely British - Keats, Yeats, Wilde, trains to London, Panic on the streets of Dundee, Essex Boys and Girls, tea and a bit o' crumpet - while simultaneously being cast out of that culture for reasons that one simply can't understand. Hence the fixation on characters like James Dean, Marilyn, and Shelagh Delaney, Americans and Brits who epitomized the "revolt into style".

So, I s'pose, if'n yer a young Latino at somewhat of that same cultural turning point - when you're absolutely not an outsider, you're part of a growing majority in some places, and you're certainly not out of place or context, but at the same time the surrounding culture doesn't seem to embrace you (how many young middle-class Latinos are in mainstream cinema? TV?) - why not buy into that angst?

Woah. That's probably all a load of shit. Hell, I live in Pittsburgh, where there's, like, five Latinos... if somebody stumbles across this and has a better take on it, that'd be lovely. Until then, I'll revel in a world in which completely unrecognizable cultural connections are still possible; in which there still can be an underground, despite all our post-modern technological contacts; a world where the iconography of Marilyn Monroe and that of the Virgin of Guadalupe can still be brought together as representations of the same force.


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