Dear Gwen, here
I’ve written an open letter to you before. That was all about your music and I wasn’t annoyed or offended by any of your creative work. I’m generally against censorship, but this situation makes me want to bend the rules of the First Amendment. I can’t make you do anything, but I can suggest it. I’ll just put it simply:
I rarely watch videos, partly because I don’t have cable TV and mainly because I just don’t care. I probably would have missed your “Luxurious (remix)” video if I hadn’t stopped by Mujerista’s blog last night. I almost clicked the stop button to keep the video from playing and listening to music I didn’t want to hear. It’s a good thing I let it play because I’ve been running out of things to post at my blog and recycling old posts feels like cheating.
As you may have inferred, I have several problems with your video.
First, in the words of Isa, my wise roommate, “What the hell?! NO! Horrible. You don’t RIP la Virgen in half. You can make her embrace the naked Sirena… you can put a calaca in place of her face… you can make her a Zapatista… but you can’t rip her in half!!” Chispa, another good friend, said “no she didn’t with la Virgen!” Sadly, yes you did.
Gwen, I know you’ve been around Mexicans and Chicanas/os. You grew up in Anaheim and anyone who knows that area and it’s neighboring Santa Ana know that there are a lot of Mexicanos in the area. In fact, Santa Ana is the most Mexican city in the US, as your fellow Anaheiman (is that a word?), Gustavo Arellano, loves to point out. Merely based on your OC roots, I can be fairly sure that you’ve seen the murals, hats, tattoos, medallions, and everything else devotees can manage to decorate with the image of la Virgen Morena. I thought you might have an inkling of an idea regarding her significance as a religious and cultural symbol. I guess not. Instead you commit a huge affront to the very cultural you’re foolishly trying to imitate.
We Mexicans take our Virgen de Guadalupe seriously. Many of us can accept her in more modern renditions, yet we will not tolerate destroying her just so you can show off your toned abs and breasts. I know I sound like a Puritan here, but I’ve just finished celebrating la Virgen de Guadalupe’s feast day and thinking about what She means to me, my family and Raza. If you walked out in those tiny shorts and ripped shirt anywhere in Southern California, you’d get dirty looks, maybe a few abuelitas yelling at you, and a possible beat down.
Second, stop with the Frida Kahlo look. Just don’t do it. I mean, Chicanas (and some Chicanos) dress like her all the time and have her image/paintings plastered all over their bedrooms. She’s sandwiched between la Virgen de Guadalupe and Morrissey when it comes to most popular figures among Chicanas. Only Raza can be that obsessed. Keep the flowers and braids with ribbon out of your hair. It’s not like you’re dancing folklórico, plus they don’t go too well with the blonde hair.
Third, I know you’ve been trying to do the chola thing since the ’90s. It was funny then, but it seemed you got tired of us. You pimped Indian culture and more recently hired Japanese Harajuku girls to follow you around. You even named them. What do you have against using your own Italian, Scottish and Irish roots or even just using your white suburban culture? To be fair, I have seen you rock plaid. The Japanese and Indian things were weird, but I didn’t feel like you were intruding on my culture, so it bugged less.
Now, your new image baffles me even more, especially when you take the three dots that represent “mi vida loca” and put them on your face. I’m no chola, I like having fuller eyebrows, personally hate wearing lipliner and lipstick, and can’t make my hair as big as it needs to be. Aside from the aesthetics, I’m also a kid from the suburbs and wasn’t in to the gang lifestlye for various reasons, the biggest being that my parents would kick my ass. Still, I feel I have the moral authority to speak for them (hi Oso!). So, Gwen, quit it with the chola thing, okay? You’re a multimillionaire pop star who just wants (wanted?) a simple kind of life. How crazy can it really be?
Fourth and final gripe: if you’re going to break a piñata in your video, you might as well do it during the tardeada/barbeque scene. I know you’re aware that piñatas are a party thing, so it makes absolutely no sense why you would do it all by yourself. Who’s going to get the candy? Oh wait, that’s what you get to lay in at the beginning of the video.
All in all, Gwen, I think you’re just trying too hard. I mean, what’s wrong with being a white chick from Anaheim? Well, I guess it might be boring. I would have just ignored this video and gone back to listening to Tragic Kingdom if it wasn’t for the Virgen shirt. Everything else was minor compared to that.
You did get something right. The lips and hair are on point. Everyone knows cholas want to be blonde.