Some comments on my article for Pacific News Service on the Mexican brown-out at the Latin Grammys. The first one is from a South Asian journalist based in Canada. I get read in Canada!...
just read your article on the Latin Grammys @ the Pacific News Service site, and i couldn't resist sending you a note of thanks for trying to open some eyes with this news. i'm South Asian music journalist up here in Canada, and to some extent our music scene faces the very same problems. i was a bit taken aback recently at a press conference in which a well-known Punjabi producer suggested that what his new record label was looking for was an
"Asian Ricky Martin" and went on about the necessity of the almighty
crossover--artists who are able to submerge their South Asian-ness and market themselves as exotic. and of course, postcolonial literature in English faces a similar dilemma.
there are very, very few really good music articles out there (i certainly
haven't written any). thanks for writing one of them!
Thank you very much for the kind words regarding my article. Sad to say I was not surprised by your comments regarding the Punjabi producer's mindset regarding crossover success. The only way to succeed in the "white" world, most non-white artists feel, is to play off Western conceptions of the exoticness of the other, and two of the worst victims (in my opinion) are Latin America and South Asia. Shows like the Latin Grammys are simply the worst manifestation
of this. Thank you very much once again and I'm glad to see there are fellow music writers who feel the way I do.
The following comments are from LatinoLA.com, which re-published my article. They are not directed towards me and as such, I will not respond...except to the negative one...
"I thought the article made it's point well...even though I have never cared for the music."
"Well, once again Gustavo Arellano has hit the subject squarely on the head, or is that the sound of his own blockhead being struck? Sure, Mexican regional music may sell more copies in certain cities here in the U.S. (read L.A.) but Salsa music is universally loved the world over. From France to London to Japan, salsa fanatics can't get enough of their favorite bands. It sounds like Arellano is jealous of the fact that salsa music is quite a bit more popular than traditional Mexican and other Latin American music.Yes, I do admit, the Latin Grammys (a divisive event that I do not support) should include music from all Latino regions. How about some traditional Peruvian music like you hear at Pollo Inca when you eat lunch? Or Nicaraguan music? Or some plenas from Puerto Rico? This brings back the same old conflicts between Mexicans and Cubans. Seriously, they have very little in common other than the same language. They're about as different culturally as Americans and Canadians. But it's the tone of Arellano's article that's ridiculous because as much as all Latin American countries differ, we must all come together to continue our political struggle and put aside our petty differences. I mean, who really cares what music the they showcase on the Latin Grammys? In the end, it's just the Estefans patting themselves on the back anyway."
This person didn't like an article on the Latin Lover phenomenon I wrote a while back for the same site. Obviously, he didn't read my article closely enough. He makes the same mistake others do when justifying exclusion of Mexican regional to a broader audience: that its popularity is somehow limited to Los Angeles. I won't bring up the Arbitron ratings here--my article does that. But once again, when a sub-genre sells more than half of all the product of its broader genre, the only thing that can explain its exclusion is anti-Mexican sentiment. Salsa music is not "quite a bit more popular"--not even close when it makes up less than 17% of total sales (remember: the 17% figure is all tropical music, not just salsa).
There are very few issues that make me a militant Mexican and the exclusion of Mexican artists is definitely one of them. A soon-to-be published article for the Weekly will carp on this even more.
Here's an email that refutes the previous email...
[The person who wrote the last email] misreads the statistics in Arellano's article. Mexican regional music doesn't just sell in a few cities; it generates over 50% of the sales in the Latin music genre. When the organizers of the Latin Grammys made their pitch to CBS, they included those profits as proof of Latin music's popularity. They need to include this music in the Latin Grammys and let the American public decide for itself if they like it. Otherwise, they should stop calling the show the Latin Grammys and call it something else.
Like the "Everything but Mexican" Grammys.
Que viva banda!
My stomach hurts.