by Daniel Cubias | March 20, 2009 • I’ve always had issues with the guy.

I know his good qualities outweigh his bad ones. After all, he’s smart, crafty, occasionally funny, and in his own way, even heroic.

But he’s a thief. And he’s a filthy rodent, which is hard to overlook.

So what do we make of Speedy Gonzalez?

Let’s not get all freshman term paper here, but there are obvious cultural connotations to the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Like every piece of art, they reflect the society and times in which they were created.

The only Hispanic character, to my knowledge, was Speedy Gonzalez. He was a leading man whom kids were supposed to root for. And he always won the day due to his bravery and quick wits.

But the symbolism is inescapable: He was a sneaky mouse determined to steal cheese. I might add that all his friends were lazy cowards. And if the connotations weren’t clear enough, how about that time the mice were trying to sneak across the border?

To be fair, Latinos actually come off better in the old Merrie Melodies than do blacks, Asians, or Southerners. The animators seemed to have special disdain for the French, whom they personified in Pepe le Pew – a rude, oblivious, dimwitted sexual harasser who reeked (and he wasn’t funny either).

They were ahead of their time when it came to gays, however, unless you think it was a coincidence that Bugs Bunny was always cross-dressing. Somebody on that writing staff was just dying to out himself. But I digress.

In any case, the creators of Speedy Gonzalez were, I believe, trying to be positive. They just couldn’t get past the stereotypes. And they were also culturally confused when it came to Latinos. After all, why else would the king of Spain have a Mexican accent (as displayed in the immortal line, “It’s flat like your head”)?

By the way, if anybody knows if they still air Speedy Gonzalez cartoons, let me know. It would be a shame if the kids of today missed out on him… or maybe it wouldn’t, I’m still not sure.

One thought on “Andale!

  1. Now the PC police are sensitive on Speedy Gonzales? I’m an Irish-American married to a Mexican citizen- he thinks Speedy was hilarious. Years ago we also discussed that maybe Bugs was gay–he was always kissing guys. We are still huge Looney Tunes fans, and sad that we cannot find them on TV anywhere. Are 21st century people really so closed minded and narcissistic that they can’t see this smart, funny entertainment for what it was? It was groundbreaking for its time, and what a step backward to censor it now!

    The whining about Speedy’s insult to Latinos incites negative thoughts about Elmer Fudd that I never knew I had. Until I read Mr. Cubias’ commentary, I hadn’t given it ANY thought, but isn’t Elmer an insult to white Americans? And, he could very well be, (gasp!), Minnesotan! Because of unfair stereotypes, it’s obvious that Elmer portrayed a stupid, American, redneck hunter. After all, excluding both coasts, for the most part this IS a redneck country. Elmer is the only real human being I recall in the Tunes. White Americans should be protesting in the streets about the insult to their sensibilities that is Elmer Fudd!

    But now that you’ve made Speedy a scapegoat, I feel the need to retort. It’s Mr. Cubias’ outlook that sparks counter-productive thoughts to play the race card. That kind of mentality only instigates more racism.
    Gay Bugs always won in the end. He was the smartest, and the star of the show. Elmer, the straight, white guy, was the loser that no one liked or rooted for.

    Mr. Cubias mentions that we should consider the cartoons in the time capsule they were made. PRECISELY. Get over it.

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