Last week's discussion reminded me of the brouhaha a couple of years ago around a Tecate outdoor campaign that stirred so much controversy among U.S. Latinos (mostly women) it had to be taken down a few days after launching. The culprit (see below) was a giant billboard showing a cold, sweating bottle of Tecate beer on a red background and only four words: "Finally, A Cold Latina."
Simple, creative, to the point, I thought. But the billboard, crafted by Chicago-based Lapiz, one of the nation's most creative and culturally relevant shops, raised hell in the Latino community. So much so, that Lucille Roybal-Allard, a congresswoman in California, demanded the company take down the billboard. She said it played off "one of many negative and misguided stereotypes about Latinas, such as that Latinas are to be viewed as sex objects." In other words, that all Latinas are hot.
Call me insensitive (or hot?) but I thought the ad was catchy, funny and said a lot without saying much. Honestly, I couldn't see what the big deal was all about and even remember thinking: "Damn! Who wouldn't want to be hot?" Then, after talking to a few of my female friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I realized the ad was mostly upsetting to U.S.-born Latinas. Most of the foreign-born Latin American women (myself included) did not feel one bit offended, or simply didn't think it was worth much discussion (some didn't even get the ad, but that's another story). In a nutshell, I thought the Latina reaction to the Tecate ad was typical of an American-born Hispanic woman, tainted of course with Political Correctness -- a concept virtually unknown throughout Latin America.
Sure, saying all Latinas are "hot" is as stereotypical as saying all Mexicans are called Pedro and like to sleep it off under a cactus wearing a sombrero.
But what is still most striking to me about the Tecate discussion is how a billboard showing a bottle of beer and the words "Finally, A Cold Latina" caused such a commotion, when very few Congressmen -- and women -- still fail to point at what goes on daily on Spanish-language television. Want to see real sexism? Tune in to your local Univision, Telemundo or Azteca America affiliates to see scantily clad women showing a little more than their cooking or news-anchoring skills. Am I the only one seeing the irony here?
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