Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Post 18: The Bandito lives to Fight, Sneak, and Steal for ANother Day

I was just finishing up chapter 3 of the book Noriega wrote, Shot in America, when I was confronted with a stereotype I never even truly knew I had living inside of me. The Frito Bandito, which has been loosely translated down to just the Bandito in general these days. I think that as I grew up as a child through cartoons (such as Looney Toons), fast food places, Mexican restaurants, etc I have come to accept the Bandito as a symbol for the Chicano community. Of course having these things shown to me as a child and growing up with them, one doesn’t fully understand the negative implications of the stereotype until slapped in the face with it. To be completely honest with myself (and what few followers I have) I am rather ignorant of the Chicano community and its stereotypes and with that ignorance I accepted the bandito as a symbol for their culture and community.

How wrong and foolish I was…

After reading Noriega’s description of the internal war this symbolic character caused for the entire Chicano Nation I am finding just how destructive the image is. I mean let’s look at the facts of the bandito: they are gun toting, aggressive, sinister, sneaky, criminal-driven, thieves who derive their pleasure on lawlessness and greed. To have this imaged used to represent a community, I would be upset too! What’s even more difficult was at the time the Chicano community was divided in half about what to do with this “character” created. On one half (as mentioned) it was regarded as degrading to their culture and they wanted it gone! However on the other half they liked the character because it brought them closer to popularity in America and finally having some recognition on television and in the movies. This was a delicate tug-o-war taking place and it was happening Chicano against Chicano!

Even today we see this image being used in Mexican restaurant menus, the signs, etc and its disturbing that it is still being supported. Granted the Frito Bandito who started this whole thing had been removed a long time ago, thanks to fierce opposition from some of the Chicano representatives, but the effects have been long lasting. I had mentioned on my class discussion board that I remember having fond memories of a Mexican restaurant I went to with my family that was located in Abington right off of Rt 18. The name eluded me as I was writing the discussion board response but I now have remembered it as Carman’s. I am not sure if it is still there today but I distinctly remember what the sign was: a bandito wearing a sombrero and a chest strap of guns and bullets while leaning back and sitting into the sand with a cactus thorn sticking out of his toe.

Ladies and gentleman the bandito lives on despite the fight to banish him into the past…

If there was any proof of how damaging an iconic stereotype of a culture can be, here is your proof.

1 comment:

  1. MIke I totally agree with you, but don't be too hard on yourself. You are not at fault that society blankets us with stereotype after stereotype until we start believing it. Especially when it is put on something with as much force as television. I am sure you are not the only one to fall prey to this.