At Racialicious, Arturo R. García lodges a complaint against the modern makeover of Speedy Gonzales which is, apparently, underway. Actor and Comedian George Lopez is scheduled to voice the character in a feature cartoon.
Starting in 1955, Speedy was a recurring character in Warner Brothers cartoons. Dubbed “The Fastest Mouse in all of Mexico,” Speedy wore a sombrero and spoke in broken English. In the cartoon below, he helps other Mexican mice steal cheese from across the Mexico/U.S. border guarded by a “Gringo cat” (Sylvester):
Lopez’s wife is on record saying that the new Speedy will not be the same racist caricature, but instead a Mexican boy who “…comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he’s a little too fast for what they do.” But García isn’t convinced. He writes:
The thing is, it’s not just about Speedy, but about the universe he inhabited. If this new film strays from the original Andale! Andale! schtick, critics will decry that the character was neutered by “the PC Patrol.” If it doesn’t, the couple has resurrected a very problematic cartoon character (two, if Slowpoke Rodriguez is also brought back.) What would be the next step – the return of Heckle & Jeckle? Is bringing back an “established brand” like this really a better option than creating an original character and building something positive from the ground up?
He also points out that Lopez’s success has rested largely on his own reproduction of racist stereotypes (of the whites-and-Latinos-are-so-different-hahaha! and Latinos-are-so-Latino-hahaha! varieties). For example:
Yeah… so I can’t imagine that that guy would ever participate in a project stereotyping Latinos.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see but, like García, I’m skeptical.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.