Saturday, June 28, 2008

homoeroticism in mexican pop culture

those of you familiar with the hays code may also know that a similar code was put in place by the mexican film industry.

the very conservative legión mexicana de la decencia, a religious right organization whose aim was to monitor 'good morals,' helped to establish the código (moral) de producción cinematográfica in mexico during the avila camacho sexenio [his wife, btw, was a member of the legión]. it stipulated the following in regard to cinematic representations of "los pervertidos":

"Tanto en hombres como en mujeres, es en sí un tema prohibido, aun cuando no se muestre al pervertido y solamente se hable de él o se hagan alusiones vagas, inclusive en tono de comedia. A los efectos de cuanto establece este inciso, se considerará como homosexual la conducta de dos personas del mismo sexo que muestre exceso de caricias o mimos, o con celos, un sentimiento que la historia no justifique plenamente con carácter elevado."

while it may be a considered a relic, or even a symbol of mexico's folkloric past, i'd argue that the code's vestiges are still very much present in contemporary mass culture, albeit in contradictory and even hypocritical ways. anne rubenstein's book opens with one such contemporary case: pop star gloria trevi's controversial calendario. the introduction to her cultural history of historietas help solidify my argument:

so why am i writing about what could be easily googled? well, it's just that during this summer, on and off, i've been tuning into the latest successful televisa telenovela production being shown in univisión at 8pm, fuego en la sangre. i won't get into the details of the recycled narrative and formulaic plot structure. for that you can go here.

but i do have to say that i'm completely fascinated by the level of visible homoerotic content in this novela. there is a gay character in fuego, but for the homoerotic content we'd need to look elsewhere, not the open (to the televisual spectator) relationship of this character (whose name i can't remember) with another man. that is, he does pronounce his love to his male partner, but always with a few feet of distance between them. the titillating same-sex homoerotic visual content takes place between the protagonist and his two brothers (and the camera, of course). fuego en la sangre is not necessarily groundbreaking in its depiction of coded same-sex desire, during the height of the código (1940s-1950s) the buddy movies featuring actors like pedro infante and jorge negrete were particularly prevalent; case and point dos tipos de cuidado. for more on this see sergio de la mora's book:

but with fuego televisa does push the very boundaries that had helped to contain it for decades. check out the scene of the three reyes brothers swimming:

btw, when this episode was aired on univisión the naked butts of the reyes were blurred.

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