24.6.05

T-shirts

I'm not sure what to make of this. It's something I turned in for my Pop Culture class last semester. It doesn't make any sense to me, but I thought I would share.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of quirky t-shirts. If you walk into your local Target, you will see a wall of t-shirts that read “Your village called, they lost their idiot” or “I can only make one person's day and today isn't your day/Tomorrow isn't looking too good either.” If you venture into a highly Latino populated area, like Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, you can find a booth that sells Latin influenced shirts like those of NACO Inc. These shirts take U.S. pop culture and mix it up with Latin flair. One example is the Naca/o shirt which takes the ever popular ACDC logo and replaces it with NACO. There is also the Mr. T t-shirt in which Mr. T is replaced by El Profesor Girafales from the notorious skit “Chavo del 8” from Chespirito, a 1970's Mexican program. There is also the blood red t-shirt with the mustard yellow heart and the letters CH in the center of the heart, which symbolizes El Chapulín Colorado, another Chespirito skit that mocks superheroes. Of course, these shirts mean nothing to those Americans who grew up watching Happy Days and the Brady Bunch. But to the Spanish speaking Generation Xers who watched Chespirito as kids these shirts mean more-they imply that Latino culture is becoming incorporated into U.S. society and that the entertainment they grew up can be pop culture.

The NACO Inc. t-shirt that reads “Estar Guars” is emblematic of transculturalism. Star Wars has long been a staple in U.S. pop culture. There are conventions dedicated to this film and almost everyone has seen at least one of these movies whether it was at the theater as a kid, on TNT, or one of the latest prequels. For NACO Inc. to produce such a shirt means that the U.S. is not the only country producing knock off pop culture from other countries in the form of mañanitas (shawls), peasant shirts, or Corona trucker caps. NACO Inc. is not the only company doing so. Walking the markets near the Zócalo in Mexico City, the streets are lined with tarps covered with t-shirts that play with U.S. pop culture.

These Latin influenced pop culture shirts can also be found at a store at the Edward's Marquee Theaters Plaza in Houston. There is a shop that offers not only these U.S. pop culture burlesque t-shirts but other items like the “Frijolero” t-shirt which was made popular by the Grammy nominated Molotov's single “Frijolero.” Wearing such a shirt is an incredibly political statement because of what the song says. It talks about the racial struggle that Latinos still encounter and recalls that “if not for Santa Ana…that where your feet are planted would be Mexico.” The production of this t-shirt and others is in a way assimilating to U.S. pop culture, but at the same time they celebrate and embrace a folklore that would otherwise be lost and replaced with an Aztec calendar ignoring a crucial chapter of history.

8 comments:

tumbleweed said...

oooh!! I'm so getting a Chespirito shirt!

Daily Texican said...

I'm glad you posted this. Good job writing.

cindylu said...

Nice. I have a CH tshirt and matching shoes to go with it. I just need red pants and the little ears to top off the look. Have you checked out the NaCo. website? My Indian friend sent me the link yesterday 'cause he found some special Vans shoes with an "I (heart) DF" pattern. He said he'd get them if he was Mexican.

La Brown Girl said...

Tumbleweed: I think you can find that t-shirt at the website Cindylu suggests or at http://mayazteca.net/cgi-bin/store/commerce.cgi?

DT: Thanks.

Cindylu: That's too cool that you have matching shoes. You guys have all the cool stuff in CA. I found out about NaCo Inc. when I was doing my research for this paper. I can't wait to start working at a real job so I can buy all sorts of stuff from them.

Gustavo said...

I saw the Naco booth at the Coachella Music Festival...My favorite shirt is the KISS inspired "Los Bukiss" T-shirt!

Cracked Chancla said...

i have the ac/dc shirt, but i think mine says na/ca....

jon said...

I am looking everywhere for shoes department and shoes department, while doing so I somehow stumbled onto your shoes department blog. I am happy to say I learned something and will look into this further...

Thanks for the great posts...

jon

Anonymous said...

hi brown girl- I am so loving our culture, it is finally making a statement- I am also going to get a CH shirt- I grew up watching these shows in Mexico and here in the U.S. when Univision was the only Spanish channel in Houston, back in the days.