Ask a Mexican

How do we know whether Walt Disney was a Mexican? Maybe a little mouse told us.

Dear Mexican: You once asked why Mexican bands don't hit it big in the good old U.S. of A. I think the simple answer is that there are no Mexican Mouseketeers. You don't get to be Justin Timberlake by picking a guitarrón. Slater from Saved by the Bell doesn't count. The real question is why Disney, a company that started with its first big park in Anaheim and introduced us melanin deficients to topiary and churros, denies its Mexican heritage?

—Paddy O'Furniture

Dear Mick: Disney and Mexican heritage? What herencia—Donald Duck in the enjoyable World War II propaganda piece, The Three Caballeros? Those old Tijuana bibles showing Minnie Mouse walking into a room and finding Mickey sodomizing a grinning Donald? The thousands of piratería statues, piggy banks, piñatas and every imaginable tchotchke sold by enterprising Mexicans from tourist spots in Mexico to stateside swap meets? Exploitative working conditions that inspired a memorable protest outside Disneyland last summer featuring cops arresting hotel employees dressed as Disney characters? That cantina scene in A Bug's Life where the Kevin Spacey-voiced grasshopper gave a thinly veiled screed warning against the Mexican invasion of America? Surely, you don't mean to reference Walt Disney's supposed Mexican heritage? The Mexican once heard a Chicano Studies teacher state proudly with a straight cara that gabacho parents adopted the Mexico-born Disney and that the history books hid this fact so Mexican students couldn't claim him as part of la raza (and we wonder why public schools fail brownies so...). Actually, the myth is that Disney was born Jose Luis Girao, the illegitimate child of Spaniards summarily put up for adoption in the United States. The most thorough Disney-as-Spaniard examination appeared in a November 30, 2001, article in the Guardian British newspaper, but no concrete proof exists. That doesn't stop some Mexicans from trying to claim him (along with Thomas Alva Edison, Jimi Hendrix and Chewbacca) as one of their own, including people who should know better— a couple years back, the Library of Congress included Disney in a display at the hallowed institution honoring Latinos.

Do Mexicans really think A Day Without a Mexican is a good movie, and that California would completely, instantly collapse if Mexicans suddenly disappeared? Isn't that what psychologists and psychiatrists call "delusions of grandeur"? Do Mexicans think non-Latinos cannot operate the sophisticated piece of technology that is known as a "gas-powered leaf blower"? And they do realize that millionaire musician Beck, one of the most Anglo guys out there, used to be a landscaper with a leaf blower?

—Bottles y Cans

Dear Gabacho: Where to about disputing your assertion that Beck is muy gabacho? He isn't—he named an album Guero (missing the umlaut over the letter u, it literally means "light-skinned" but is slang for a gabacho.) If you're learning this for the first time, read this column more closely! And if you're really paying attention, you'll know this is the third time in as many years I've answered a Beck/Guero-related question, although each in different contexts. Why can't I get more queries about Luis Perez Meza? Beck incorporates Mexican rhythms into songs and visuals on his albums because of growing up among wabs in Los Angeles. Not many Mexicans, gabachos, chinitos, negritos or anyone really liked A Day Without a Mexican; the 2004 film grossed only an estimated $4.1 million at the box office, and it's yet to become a cult classic among Mexicans like Born in East L.A. or the Charles Bronson canon. Mexicans do believe this country can't exist without cheap immigrant labor—it's not called "delusions of grandeur" but rather "knowing American history and how capitalism operates." Finally, of course we know gabachos can operate leaf blowers—that's why you'll never see one use it to make a living unless their education is at Guatemalan levels of stupidity.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano