Sunday, April 08, 2007

"Speedy Gonzales" Sighting ... Not! or Tacos in La Jolla



La Jolla, California--a hotbed of Latina/o Cultural Studies activities! e725 ace correspondent Melissa Posa checks in with a post:

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2007 21:00:18 -0700
From: "Melissa Posa"
Subject: Speedy or just another mouse!!!
To: "bnericci@mail.sdsu.edu"
Hey Nericcio,

I was reading the paper last weekend and I came across an ad for a restaurant called Mr. Taco. Of course, the ad has a mouse on it, a mouse might I add very similar to, if not an exact replica of Speedy Gonzales. Dressed in what I would call "Mexican bandit attire" the mouse holds a taco in one hand and a gun in the other. I found it hilarious that this Latin mouse is suppose to draw me into this restaurant to eat Mexican food. But back up to the gun and the mouse's clothes and oh yeah, the irony of the Mexican food restaurant capitalizing on using a Mexican stereotype to sell its product. There is definitely something disturbing about this whole thing.

I also tried to see if there was a website for this restaurant, but I couldn't find anything. All I came up with was a few reviews. Someone said, "What a find this place is! Seriously good tacos and burritos at a fantastic price! You really wouldn't expect a place like this to exist in La Jolla, but it's there and it's great." From what I gather this isn't an upscale restaurant and being in La Jolla I see where this person was going with their comment. Well, I guess I'm just falling into the La Jolla "pompous" stereotype. But this person's comment made me think...Who is this restaurant marketing its product to. Who is attracted to mice? Or are the readers suppose to associate this Latino mouse with a Mexican identity and therefore the food must be good because its authentic Mexican cuisine?!?!?! Quite a stretch, don't you think?!?!

Cheers,
Melissa Posa

20 comments:

  1. In reply to the blog on the Mr. Taco ad with the "Mexican bandit attire," I recently saw another side to the view on Mexican stereotyping through symbols/clothing in an article I found on "NaCo," a Latino clothes store from Mexico City. NaCo claims to be the new breakout trend for “Latino urban pop culture” fashion-ware. The article, located at http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/travel/01foraging.html is entitled, “The NaCo Buz Crosses the Border (legally) into the LA Times” and features a photograph of some of the t-shirts, including their collection imprinted with "I is for Illegal"and "M is Mojado." The text encourages buyers to “wear them with pride as we show consolidarity with family, friends, co-workers, etc.“ The NaCo official website is located at http://www.usanaco.com/news/.

    This humorous approach, with the “Illegal” t-shirts and “NaCo crosses the border legally” article, is an interesting technique in getting Latino brands into the American market. A fashion line such as NaCo could be effective in changing the tide of Latino stereotyping. In addition, another short article on this website mentions San Diego as one of the first cities to sell the NaCo brand.

    S. Beth Cain
    Eng 493
    April 10, 2007

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  2. Cecilia P.11:56 PM

    I often find myself more attracted to more hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants that have no stereotypical illustration on their menus, give or take a simple sombrero here or there, such as Los Dos on La Jolla Blvd (which oftentimes is responsible for food-poisoning... but apparently the risk is still worth it) and, my favorite, Ortega's, neither of which to my recollection have anything visually familiar to allure customers, just the delicious scents of Carne Asada tacos loitering in the air.

    But until I read this blog I didn't realize that I subconsciously choose restaurants without cheesy stereotypicalities (word?) because I guess I assume it is more Americanized Mexican food. Another reason why I openly choose not to eat at Taco Bell or Del Taco. We live miles to the border, why should we settle for American-owned or Americanized Mexican food restaurants? Whatever, my grandma's food owns.

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  3. Brian Moczygemba12:41 PM

    It is interesting, yet sad that the image this particular restaurant chose to be the most recognizable for their advertisement happens to be a stereotypical portrayal of a Mexican-Bandit-Mouse. Donning a sombrero, clasping a taco in one hand (which seems to have possibly provided a satisfying first bite, judging by the smile on his face) and holding a gun in the other hand (which maybe he is just happy to be packing some heat while he eats his taco). They have taken their advertisement and “Americanized” it; they have whitened it up, possibly in attempts to draw more cliental. Also, by choosing a name such as “Mr. Taco” the idea of the Americanization of Mexican food is evident. I don’t know what would be worse, sticking with “Mr. Taco” or having a name that resonates more of a Latino/a culture, such as “Senor Taco.” Either way the name itself screams “American.” I do not understand how this advertisement is supposed to lure me into the restaurant.
    I guess in an attempt to appeal to the masses, popular recognizable symbols and pictures are brought into the mix so that we can have something recognizable to grab our attention. But on a deeper level, it is may be a little that we are reduced to buying burritos with French Fries inside of them from a taco-eating, gun-waving, sombrero-wearing, Mexican mouse.
    I will stick to my Santana’s burrito at the corner of El Cajon Blvd. and 55th. No Mexican-Bandito-Mouse is there enjoying a burrito as much as I am. (I would be a little turned off if I saw such varmint eating with me). No flashy, cheesy images, just a menu with pictures of all their delicious food. Keep it simple. It should be about the quality of the food, not the advertisement. This mouse could tell me it would be the best damn burrito I have ever had in my life, but why would I listen to a pest?

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  4. Megan Tancredi2:27 PM

    In response to the blog, I do not agree with the restaurant using a character that is similar (or an exact replica) to Speedy Gonzales, a well known stereotype and figure in our culture. But, because the mouse is a popular figure the idea that the character will bring in customers is understandable, and from a marketing stand-point it makes sense. The restaurant is somehow trying to appeal to the public. On the contrary, if I was the owner of “Mr. Taco” I would want to capitalize on the fact that my restaurant is not a well-known chain that has inadequate and conventional food, but rather a place where locals can enjoy a decent Mexican meal in La Jolla, therefore; not wanting to have Speedy Gonzales as means of drawing in customers and business.

    The only part of the ad that drew me in is the daily Happy Hour from 4-7 pm. I am not persuaded by the Speedy Gonzales character to eat Mexican food at an Americanized “Mexican” restaurant. I will continue to get my 3 o’clock am Mexican food fixes at Roberto’s in Pacific Beach.

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  5. Anonymous3:40 PM

    IN response to Miss Posa’s blog: yes, I do find that a mouse used as a hook for a Mexican Restaurant is “quite a stretch.” But, hey! Speedy Gonzales, the little rascal, caught the attention of multiple nations and influenced whole societal stereotypes concerning Mexican identity. So, while using a mouse as an advertising tool is quite a stretch in reality is not that surprising. And for the irony you see in Mr. Taco’s unflagging representation of the Mexican stereotype—the owners are probably white and even if they are Mexican it is all a revolving door based on dinero. These people regardless of race or ethnicity are most likely not intentionally further entrenching a positive Mexican identity. They are just following a popular trend of giving Mexican restaurants gringo-Mexican names. You know, like, Los Panchos here at SDSU or how about THE TACO SHOP out by Sports Arena or my favorite (not to dine) shop in Ocean Beach. I think they went through three different name changes in four months. Check out this evolution: Tex-Mex Grill, Tommy’s Tex-Mex Grill, and now, Don Tommy Mexican Food (or something along those lines). It’s absurd, yes! But so is the number of obese people on the beaches. I view the Mexican restaurant as a sort of denigrated outcome of misplaced representation concerning Mexican identity en los Ustados Unidos.

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  6. Matt Brown
    Engl. 493

    The depiction of this speedy Gonzales like mouse character is no surprise and representations like this can be seen all over. Mr. Taco is simply an extension of the representation of the Mexican in America dating back to before the original Speedy Gonzalez. This whole concept of the marketing of these stereotypes without being questioned by our increasingly politically correct society is what boggles my mind. I would even have to admit before this class I would look at an ad like this and not even think twice. In reality thought if you examine the ad it is a very racially motivated characterization that is very offensive. The ad makes it seem like all Mexicans are crazy gun yielding taco eating machines. Yet, no body would ever question an ad like this, while the slightest statement of racial stereotyping in any other media would cause a uproar. The latest example’s being Seinfeld’s Cramer using the “N” word or Imus’s calling a girls basketball team “nappy headed hoes”. These racial discriminations against African American caused outrage but the constant repetition of the Speedy Gonzales stereotype dose not get an eye batted at it. Dose this mean that racially degrading gestures towards Mexicans is more acceptable than racially degrading acts against the African American community? I think it has more to do with the fact that we have been inundated so much with this type of stereotypical behavior since our birth that Mexican Americans in many cases look right over it without noticing. I know that had always been the case for me but I could be wrong.

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  7. Ian Mills12:29 AM

    Well,honestly, who whouldnt want to eat where mice eat? Especially mexican mice? I mean since reading this post I've gone to eat there 3 times. Alright I'm being a tad bit sarcastic not believing that we are still playing off of this speedy thing. What's sad is the owner is probably mexican and probably doesn't realize that he is adding to stereotypes of himself. It would be interesting if he did know and did not care owing to who knows what. The last people that need to use stereotypes are the ones that they are about because they are not only victims but contributors to a false notion. If people would only realize that they can market products based on truth and that values are called values because they are VALUED and use them then life would be a lot less degrading.

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  8. KEY NOTICE--to students in e493:

    you are NOT proofreading your work; blogger does not allow me to edit your posting so once you PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT it is there for good, warts and all. do please write and proof your work, THEN publish it. Over and out, Memo Nericcio

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  9. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Not to defend Mr. Taco Mexican Eatery or anything, but that place is pretty good. On another note I can see why they put pseudo-speedy in the ad. I mean honestly people are going to see pseudo-speedy and immediately the ad will catch their eye. But on the other hand the ad furhter perpetuates the negative sterotype that holds the mexican culture back.

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  10. I can see why Speedy would get advertised on such flyers as this, and it truly is saddening to admit that Mexicans are associated to bandit attire and guns on a mouse who likes to shout "Andale, Andale Arriba, Arriba". If things like this keep getting advertised to attract customers, or to get a chuckle out of people, we wil never stop thinking of Mexicans as dirty low lifes who like to eat tacos and run around aimlessly yelling out non-sense gibberish. I would like to just think, "Oh this is merely an advertisement, it is not meant to offend anyone at all" but sadly when you think about it, it does. If it weren't for Nericcio's chapter on Speedy Gonzalez and stereotypes in the media that we have seen and laughed at for years, I probably would not think much of this advertisement. I have never really been to this restaurant, so it would be difficult for me to critique it any further. I do however find it interesting that on the comments here, the place seems to sell good food. I wonder also, if the place is runned by Latinos, Mexicans or another culture. I guess people care more about making money by doing what they can to attract customers, but this is quite low if you ask me.

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  11. Mariah Bush12:00 AM

    I have a new Speedy Gonzales sighting (non-mexican food related though). Did anyone see Tina Fey on Conan O'Brien on April 11th? I was unable to find the video but I will paraphrase the interview. Fey tells Conan how she has lost touch with current events... "someone asked me what I thought of the Alberto Gonzales controversy. I said 'what? you mean the Mexican mouse?'" (or something to that effect). This comment shows the influence the Speedy Gonzales stereotype still has on pop culture. Fey relates any Hispanic sounding name to the gun slinging, heavily accented rodent. What I found even more frightening was the thought that before this class I probably would not have noticed the subtle racism in Fey's comment. Film and television feed us so many of these stereotypes that they become part of our perception of the world. While I can't bring myself to accuse Tina Fey of racism (I love her), her comment is racially motivated and encourages a negative perception of Mexicans.

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  12. Anonymous6:44 PM

    People have always associated best with cartoons, especially when adults find one that reflects their childhood, so using a well-known figure as advertising is not too stupid of the restaurant. If I had not been introduced to Nericcio then I would have never known the specifications of Speedy Gonzales' background; this leads me to believe that most people don't. It just shows that society is always going to occupy their time with things they feel are completely necessary and discard the things they feel are irrelevant.

    Come on, a Happy Hour AND cartoons? Now who could pass up that offer?!?

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  13. Jesus Dominguez3:51 PM

    I have recently started to learn a bit about marketing and business, and if we look at this silly advertisement from that angle, we can see how Speedy Gonzalez is being used to possibly improve their profits. Why is every F*ing taco shop in SD painted red & yellow, have the same exact food, and have the same name like Roberto's, Alberto's, or Adalberto's? Because we are creatures of habit. Because we like to go to familiar places and get familiar food that doesn't stretch far from our mundane, repetitive lives. We like it this way. We like to see the drawing of the Mexican guy with the big revolutionary mustache, huge sombrero, and big pot belly hanging out. Speedy Gonzalez is a familiar Mexican face to us. Speedy to us, shoots the message that something "Mexican" is around and associated with whatever else is being advertised. "Mr. Taco" does the other part in telling us that its a taco shop. I think that very few people stop to think twice about the image or try to look at it from an analytical viewpoint, instead they just see the eatery and might stop to try it out. So from this perspective, we can see that Speedy is being used effectively as a marketing tool; a tool that has probably been working for them. And then once lured inside, people can actually come to find out that the food is actually pretty good. (It is). -Jesus Dominguez-Ortiz Eng493

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  14. Anonymous1:15 AM

    This blog just really reminded me of a truck I saw this past weekend. I was driving down El Cajon Blvd., and I saw a gardening truck. On the side of the broken down blue truck was the name of the company, with a large animated Speedy underneath the name. What was even more shocking was the 4ft stuffed Speedy which the driver had tied to the back rack of the truck. I tried to take a quick picture with my camera phone, but it didn't end up showing up. What amazed me most is that someone would use such a stereotypical image as a source of advertisement. I found this to be very similar to the menu of the Mexican restaurant being described. Instead of seeing humor in this display of Speedy, I found it to be incredibly sad.
    -Carrie Stern

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  15. Kelsey12:48 AM

    I was at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art last week (doing much needed research for my big scary essay) when I saw a big scary ethnic stereotype. A piece by Perry Vasquez was on display, it showed a traditionally dressed Mexican man crossing the US/Mexican border with a humorous laid back pose. After doing a little research I realized that this was the “keep on crossin” campaign. It argues that crossing a border is a human right and we need to break down boarders of political and social construction. Vasquez uses the ethnic mannequin of a Mexican to promote Mexican rights. It made me wonder why I thought that all the uses of a stereotype are wrong and done by ignorant people. Comparing Vasquez’s use of the sombrero wearing Mexican and Mr. Taco’s interpretation of the same thing- I realized that stereotypes can be used in many different contexts with different motives. I have a feeling that the owner of Mr. Taco is just a gringo trying to sell some burritos that seem more authentic. Why not dress a little mouse up like a Mexican to catch people’s eyes and make them hungry for an over-the-border treat? Mr. Taco’s Mexican mouse and Vasquez’s border crossing Latino have completely different vibes and meaning. Vasquez’s stereotype makes sense; it’s an ad for a campaign to promote something socially useful (keeponcrossin.com). Mr. Taco’s mouse is also an ad, but unfortunately for Mr. Taco that little stereotype does not make me want a burrito.

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  16. Ryan Codina11:01 PM

    Practically everyone knows who Speedy Gonzales is but not everyone knows about how he's one of the problems of Mexican stereotypes or atleast thought of it that way. I admit I never gave much thought of Speedy Gonzales in that way before this course, or English 220 I should say. In response to this blog, I was thinking of what a person who may not know who Speedy is thinking. They might think there are mice around or even worse, serve mice. Ok so that may be too outrageous but who knows what people will think.
    Personally, a mouse as a logo would not convince me to go to a restaurant. I would just go in to the restaurant if I am hungry and if it is cheap (must be cheap for me). I don't think many people would take the time and analyze stereotypical aspects of a Mexican restaurants. All the owners really need is the name of the restaurant with a sub-title or something that indicates what they offer. The food is what will get people to come to your restaurant. People who have been to your restaurant will bring their friends and etc. to your restaurant if it is really that good. Word of mouth is still a powerful advertising tool. It's just like how I was hooked on Lolita's Taco Shop in Clairemont Mesa. I have never been there until my friends took me and after eating their food, I was hooked and can't imagine going anywhere else. All I needed to know was the name of the restaurant and how to get there. Eventually I got my brothers and friends hooked also.

    Eng493

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  17. Anonymous12:17 AM

    It was very interesting story. Because I don't have any prejudices about Speedy Gonzales, it doesn’t affect me to eat this restaurant or not. I saw these films when I was young, but I just thought him a heroic character who uses his speed to help others. Many people in today's world choose to look at the stereotypes in a negative light, but the more one pays attention and watches each of the Speedy films, it becomes evident that only the villains are portrayed as 'stereotyped' or 'racist', and even these are quite tame. In fact, Speedy is actually a virtuous, caring and heroic character, a mouse superhero of sorts who uses his speed to help others.
    After I saw this, I found the case that also used this character in advertising. Volkswagen is targeting their Hispanic customers by introducing Speedy Gonzalez for the VW Golf GTI. They firmly believed that Speedy Gonzales will help take the new 2006 GTI’s message to a group of Hispanic drivers who may have not yet experienced the speed and responsiveness of their German engineered hot hatch. “In the Hispanic market, Speedy Gonzales is our superhero,” commented C.O.D’s founding partner and creative director, Priscilla Cortizas. “Not only is he the epitome of speed, he communicates positive values like altruism, resourcefulness, intelligence and confidence.”

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  18. Anonymous2:56 PM

    After reading this post it left me quite hungry and a craving for mexican food. Not because of a mouse holding a gun, but just the fact that I like Mexican food. Lets be honest, a mouse that is suppose to be protrayed as speedy gonzales holding a gun and a taco is not going to make any Mexican food more authenic enough for anyone to actually believe its good food. The fact that this location is in la jolla alone just tells me that they are trying to appeal to the non native Mexican. I would give them a B+ for marketing towards the right crowd.

    Eric Cordero
    Eng 493

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  19. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Is Speedy Gonzales a stereotype? Hell yes. One would think that naming the restaurant “Mr Taco" would be sufficient to describe what their selling. Just to inform all of you that this place is owned by a Mexican-American family. The Speedy Gonzales character didn’t come from Mexico as I’m sure most of you are aware of. I have no clue how the owner came about to choosing this character. Perhaps it was the idea of a child or as a joke who knows! It is not the greatest Mexican food I have tasted but it’s decent for La Jolla. Take this into account, they recently opened a deli next door called "Mr. Deli" (see how creative they are with the names) and the picture on their name was of a plump male baker with a bakers hat and a scarf. That deli is now closed. The owner will now be opening a fast food Chinese restaurant. I could only guess what he will be calling it...Mr. Chinese??

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  20. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Is Speedy Gonzales a stereotype? Hell yes. One would think that naming the restaurant “Mr Taco" would be sufficient to describe what their selling. Just to inform all of you that this place is owned by a Mexican-American family. The Speedy Gonzales character didn’t come from Mexico as I’m sure most of you are aware of. I have no clue how the owner came about to choosing this character. Perhaps it was the idea of a child or as a joke who knows! It is not the greatest Mexican food I have tasted but it’s decent for La Jolla. Take this into account, they recently opened a deli next door called "Mr. Deli" (see how creative they are with the names) and the picture on their name was of a plump male baker with a bakers hat and a scarf. That deli is now closed. The owner will now be opening a fast food Chinese restaurant. I could only guess what he will be calling it...Mr. Chinese??

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