Thursday, January 05, 2012

Luis Suárez and all that

Mariana Echeverria, the cute replacement for Radamés on Guerra de Chistes (above) has established a niche for herself on the show by specialising in the telling of gags which would induce thousands of complaint calls to any UK broadcaster. She should be thankful that Mexico has no equivalent of the Broadcasting Standards Commission; or at least I am assuming it doesn't.

The other night, dressed as an angel, she recounted this little adivinanza: 'What's yellow on the outside, black on the inside, and makes you laugh out loud?' Answer...'a taxi full of 'negros' going off a cliff.'

Racial discrimination is not her only rollo however. Over the festive period she got laughs out of a boy with no hands as well as leper children.

Now, in tieing this cautionary tale back to that of Liverpool's seemingly much put-upon Uruguayan striker, let's make several observations that would seem reasonable to anyone who has spent time in a Spanish-speaking culture.

1) There is practically no sense of poltical correctness
2) There is a very high obscenity threshold
3) There's an awful lot of un-selfconscious racism around.

On the middle point, it has never ceased to amaze me how children's TV presenters in Spain feel free to use the word coño (cunt) on air.

Luis Suárez would probably regard our tendency to stigmatise those who make fun of people's colour, but not those who joke about a person's weight, lack of hair, intelligence or regional origin, as a strange form of discrimination in itself.

For if Uruguayans are anything like Central Americans, a good part of the local sense of humour is based on homing in on each other's most salient (and therefore apparently weakest) features. It rather resembles Public Schoolboy humour in its mercilessness. For that reason 'negro' is a nickname forced on many people of non-African origin who just happen to be a tad darker or sport curly hair.

Another Mexican show I watched last year had a well-known black singer as a guest and the hosts chose to welcome him with a string of gags that would leave many liberal folk in need of a jaw re-setting before they could run to their phones to complain. But I do believe that the idea was actually to make the strange dark person feel more comfortable on set! And the tactic appeared successful, because the singer chose to join in and proceeded to tell several startlingly racist jokes himself.