LULAC Goes Looney Tunes

Should Speedy be brought back from cartoon exile?

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: April 6, 2002

LULAC Goes Looney Tunes

In an act of unconscionable imbecility, LULAC --the League of United Latin American Citizens -- the US? oldest Hispanic American rights group, and Hispanic Online, a Florida-based haven for closet Latinos, have publicly advocated and petitioned for bringing back racist cartoon Speedy Gonzales to the Cartoon Network after a two year absence.

?To many people, he was a hero,? said Virginia Cueto of Hispanic Online, which launched a campaign to revive the Mexican mouse. ?He is seen by many Hispanics as a positive role model. This guy is a winner! He is always outsmarting his main nemesis Sylvester the cat ? or as Speedy?s non-Latino creator terms it, the GREEEEN-GO Pussygato."

Maybe to Hispanics he is a hero but to Latinos, he is an abomination.

Apparently, in Ms. Cueto?s attempt to be cute, she does not actualize that cats and mice cannot really talk and if they did they would not be stupid enough to continue to insult the potentially strongest minority group in the country. Since they cannot read either, the latest census probably passed over their heads, too.

Big up, however, to the Cartoon Network (CN) spokesperson Laurie Goldberg, who said that the network has no current plans to air Speedy. "We never ?pulled? the Speedy cartoons, we just haven?t aired a lot of them, " she said, citing not only the networks concern over inappropriate or offensive stereotypes, but an additional consideration -- a given programs ratings. The 40 Speedy cartoons in Cartoon Network's collection have traditionally garnered low ratings. They are a part of an 810-cartoon library, which runs in rotation.

In the real world -- not toon town -- they do not run Speedy cartoons because it has terrible ratings, but because the majority of people -- including cartoonists with half a brain -- know that the Speedy Gonzalez cartoons are blatantly offensive, so normal people stopped watching them.

So in comes LULAC to the rescue.

??Viva Speedy!? LULAC director of policy and legislation Gabriela Lemus said. ?Give the mouse a chance. I have never heard of any Mexican-American complain about him. I grew up in Mexico, I watched it with my grandmother and we weren?t offended. How far do you push political correctness before you can?t say anything about anything anymore??

Profound political rhetoric indeed. In other words, to quote another cartoon icon, Quick Draw McGraw to his much maligned Latino sidekick, the accented donkey Baba Louie, ?I?ll do the thinin' around here, Baba-Louie, and don?t you forget it!?

I guess it's comments like that which makes LULAC the political powerhouse for strong national Latino policy and legislative leadership that it is. I am hoping that bringing back poorly-rated racist cartoons is not high on the list of its national agenda.

Maybe Ms. Lemus can host a "Dress Up Like Your Favorite Hispanic Stereotype Character Dinner Dance" at the next national convention in June. Executive members could come dressed as Speedy Gonzalez, Bucky & Pepito (similar lazy Mexican-exiled cartooners), The Frito Bandito, or the recently-furloughed Taco Bell Rat-Dog. Maybe Hispanic Online could even webcast it!

As an industry insider, I would like to inform advocates that cartoon animals are only inventions of artistic and oftentimes drunk people, in this case, non-Latinos from several decades ago who consider Latinos second class citizens.

Speedy was a mistake.

Any time a character is given an ethnic accent only for comedic value, this trivializes and diminishes that person and culture. This is done in an effort to make the dominant culture -- those inspired to laugh --feel superior. This type of subliminal institutional racism viscerally affects our children and degrades Latinos as people of honor and respect.

Although self-congratulatory publicity-seeking cartoon advocates such as Cueto and Lemus bemoan the fact that their favorite rodent has been sent to broadcast limbo, they ought to consider that most cartoon viewers are children and well-known musicians.

Los Angeles psychologist Robert Butterworth, (and no, his mom is not the Mrs. Butterworth, the maple syrup bottle lady) says, ?These stereotypes are ingrained when we?re young. and what do kids watch? Cartoons. I know that adults are saying 'Oh God, it?s just Speedy Gonzalez? but these are impressions that are put in very early and hard to pull out. I?m the last person to hold for political correctness, but kids absorb this thing on a preconscious level.?

Lemus of LULAC says, ?Speedy points out to his friends the good parts of being motivated and always beats the bad guy.?

Isn?t that what LULAC is supposed to do?

Speedy boosters or ?Speedy freaks? as I call them, shouldn?t expect to see their rodent hero back anytime soon, at least not in the United States. Speedy will appear in reruns of a full-length Warner Brothers movie ?Fantastic Island? later this month, however, where he will play ?Tattoo?, the vertically challenged side kick of Mr. Rourke.

But I?m not even going there.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos Hernandez will probably never be published on Hispanic Online.

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