Dude Look Like a Lady
Dame Edna tries funny, advises wrongheadedly
Al Carlos Hernandez
A national controversy has been brewing over comments made in the February edition of Vanity Fair magazine -- the one with Selma Hayak heating up the cover -- by an Australian named Barry Humphries who performs as a woman: Dame Edna.
Published on LatinoLA: February 8, 2003
It seems that given the body politic, Latinos would have more important things to be press releasing about.
Dame Ed-Mama does a satirical advice column for the magazine and according to an apologetic response from Vanity Fair, ?Barry practices a long comedic tradition of making statements that are tasteless, wrongheaded, or taboo with an eye towards exposing hypocrisies or prejudices.?
This being said, I wonder if they're hiring? I try to do the same thing too, but for a lot less money. For the kind of money this fictional heifer makes, I could borrow someone?s Quencea?ara dress, wear a bird?s nest on my head and write an insulting advice column for ladies, too. With the money, my wife could retire early, I could get that new V Rod Harley Davidson and buy my sons a fleet of Cadillac Escalades on 23 inch rims.
To phase this using urban Ebonics, I would be sick with it?
What Dame the dude said to get everybody?s undies in a bunch was in response to a query -- not ?queery? -- regarding someone asking if they should learn Spanish. What he said was, and I am paraphrasing ?Forget Spanish yada, yada, Don Quixote, Garcia Lorca, not everybody is speaking it, no one who speaks Spanish you want to talk too, like the help, the leaf blowers. Study French or German or if you?re American, try English.?
This statement has caused the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) to call for a national boycott of the magazine as well as the Dame?s on stage one-woman/dude shows. I am proud that NCLR took prompt action on this important issue and was not distracted by issuing a statement on the small matter of the Miguel Estrada/U.S. Court of Appeals nomination. After all, it is common knowledge that politics is show business for ugly people.
Speaking of ugly people, I don?t know what people find so funny about a guy who dresses up like an old woman. Spanish TV somehow thinks this is funny, too. If you have some cross dressing issues, and glamming yourself up is part of your trick bag, at least try to look cute. Dressing up like Aunt Bea in clothes from the segunda (second-hand store) doesn?t cut the mole.
What is controversial to me is and what folks should be hot and bothered about is the fact that this guy is taking a good job away from a female humorist, who could probably do a better job of satire. There seems to be a glass ceiling for women writers, especially Latinas, and Dame the Dude seems to be polishing it contemptuously.
You never see women dressing like ugly men who try to write advice columns because that would be just plain stupid. Like they say in Hollywood, buy the premise, buy the gag. Believability comes through the suspension of disbelief.
It is quite possible that socially active Latinos didn?t get the joke, because the joke wasn?t funny. His comments were so true that it stuck a main nerve. Spanish is quickly becoming a language of colonized people, Latinos in this country have soaring High School drop-out rates and have failed to organize into viable political voting blocs.
The whole Dame the Dude column became a cause celeb, because of one thing and one thing alone: He wasn?t funny.
Here are some of the things Dame the Dude could have said to assuage the wrath of La Raza, in response to the question: Should a woman learn Spanish?
?In this day and age, speaking Spanish is a must if you hope to have cute babies with hair and not the bald ones that look like Winston Churchill.?
?Spanish is the language of romance. History is peppered with novels and poetry that celebrate, love, lust and liberation; the poetic use of Spanish correctly can assure you that no one gets abusive with your huevos rancheros.?
?Learn French is you want to surrender or learn German if you think your BMW mechanic is trying to hose you. Learn Spanish if you want to get to know your children?s dates or actually get a date for your homely self.?
To be practical, if Vanity Fair is sincerely apologetic about the babosadas that Dame the Dude said, they should advise some of the big-named Vanity Fair advertisers to advertise in Latino magazines.
(Or Latino websites - the editor)
Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos wants to write for Vanity Fair, too.