Last Saturday my sons watched a show on Fox Kids called "Los Luchadores." This splendid work of cinematic art featured two masked superheroes who looked like Mexican pro wrestlers and spent much of the episode cruising around in a low-rider with flames painted on the doors.
When I was through laughing at them, I asked myself, is this show offensive stereotyping, or a celebration of diversity?
And how would I know?
If I say, well, you know, many Hispanics dress and act just like Anglos, would that demonstrate my lack of prejudice or my lack of understanding and empathy for Latino culture? And who would decide?
In practice, it seems to me, statements about ethnic groups are judged according to who said them; that's why Puffy Combs can use the N word all he wants and I can't. But this is a solution I reject out of hand. Statements are either true or false in and of themselves, regardless of who said them, and I refuse to concede that my own parentage disqualifies me from speaking on any subject. I describe the world as I see it, good, bad, or indifferent, and while I have no desire to offend anyone I certainly won't silence myself to keep the cultural peace.
Sometimes it seems like the only thing all Americans have in common is a prickly sensitivity to slurs against the groups they identify with. In the midst of all this deeply serious wrangling, maybe "Los Luchadores" is actually a hopeful sign; if we can laugh at all that is ridiculous in every culture, we may learn to get along yet.
February 6, 2001
"Objections,digressions, gay mistrust, the delight in