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Yo Quiero El
Help me, please. I'm confused. I've fallen in love, and love, with all of it's trappings, surely must be blurring my vision. The reason for my obsession? I want that dog. You know the one. The one that is savvy, cocky, cynical. The one with the attitude. I felt it immediately and I am sure of it now.....I want him to come live in my house. Why? you ask. To banter back and forth with, exchange clever, wicked, snide remarks. Hell, just to hang-out.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, I am referring to the Taco Bell Dog. The little smoothcoat Chihuahua with a penchant for tacos and generalized intimidation. Taco Bell Dog as conqueror destroying the stuffed dog in the back window of the Slackers car and tossing it from the moving vehicle before forcing the occupants to drive him to his next burrito supreme. Taco Bell Dog on a mission, making demands from unsuspecting citizens and pausing just long enough as he prances through their living room to show off his declarative memory skills by correctly answering a Jeopardy question (let's face it, most college students do not even know what a logarithm is). Taco Bell Dog as dictator, ruling over the masses and inculcating them in the ways of fast food. Taco Bell Dog as clever hunter, outwitting and mastering Godzilla.
He represents without a doubt, what every American aspires to be. Smart, independent, assertive, smug, and always getting his way by outwitting his opponent. He is focused and directed in his quest for fast food. He is bilingual. Confident. And, thanks to new technological advances and some very clever marketing, he actually has an attitude. He is, in essence, the perfect American icon.
So what is the problem? you are probably asking. It's all good, as the kids say, so what is there to be confused about? Well, as it turns out, there is actually a group of people out there threatening and pressuring the marketers of Taco Bell to pull the ad campaign. Reportedly, Taco Bell Dog is offensive to Hispanics and certain people are losing sleep over it. According to these folks Taco Bell Dog is Politically Incorrect, demeaning and degrading the entire Hispanic community. Really?......Are you Sure ?
Come on. Haven't we gone overboard with hypersensitivity over this whole PC business? Some people, having previously been on the receiving end of discrimination, have come to view every life event through those lenses. They expect it. Anticipate it. Look for it. Every incident, no matter how innocuous, is perceived as a potential threat or attack. Sadly, it is true that discrimination still exists. It is untrue, however, that all people find it an acceptable way to be in the world. It is also untrue that prejudice, persecution, and insensitivity is the motivating force behind the actions of most people.
Having developed and taught college and graduate level courses on cross-cultural psychology and worked as a researcher and consultant on a myriad of cross-cultural issues, I took pause when I heard the angry demands to pull the Taco Bell Dog. I did a careful examination of my own perceptions and biases. Could I have secretly been laughing at an entire group of people without even knowing it? Could my smirks and snickers at the clever and smart-ass actions of a little talking dog actually be the result of secret, repressed desires to belittle an entire subculture? Moreover, could the antics of a talking dog really be a thinly-veiled conspiracy to persecute and entire ethnic community?
Well, I did the self-analysis. Without reservation I laid all the potential for ugly, misguided hidden agendas out on the table. I also surveyed a number of other people. Neighbors, friends, colleagues, and college students.....many of whom routinely check off the box marked "Hispanic" on applications and questionnaires. None of them, not a one, could understand the accusations that Taco Bell Dog was a degrading and demeaning symbol used to insult and persecute an entire community.
My final analysis? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. For my money, the Taco Bell Dog represents everything that is American......those characteristics which we all share in common no matter what one's ethnic heritage is. The desire to come out on top, to outwit one s adversary, to win from pure, unadulterated wit as opposed to whining.
But perhaps we are naive. Unenlightened. Maybe that group crying discrimination is right. Come to think of it, those talking frogs on the Budweiser ads do seem to be pretty white-trashy. And they re obviously a couple of juicers.......
Lo siento. I'm going to the garage to make my protest signs right now.
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