I’m used to being the dominant culture in the room. Well not me personally, but coming from the US, I’ve become accustomed to seeing our influence peddled everywhere. When I’m in a multi-culti group, the language usually swings to English. When I talk about where I’m from, people instantly ask, ‘Yeah, but which state?’ (while few ask any follow-up questions to my friends from Saskatchewan*).
Looking around me in Germany, I see things like the outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin**, which seems to pull a Jack London – White Fang mashup and then adds the word ‘skin’, which gives me the jeebies in a John Wayne Gacy kind of way. Or just look back to Karl May, who caused generations of German boys and girls to fantasize about the Wild West. You don’t have to spit far to see the US popping up on the radar – in good and not so good ways.
But it’s not so often I get to see cultural appropriation from a sideview, which is why this documentary below is so darn exciting. I cannot tell you enough how great this little piece of filmmaking is. Did you even know there was a huge scene around Mexican music in Yugoslavia during the 1950s? That just for a short period of time in history, mariachi and sappy Mexican music oozed out of the radios there (until the British invasion and American music took over the airwaves). And that it was called Yumex?
Watch the old cantantes here recollect how they could make two tours of Poland in one year. Or drive for hours and hear nothing but their Mexican covers – or interpretations of what they thought the singers were saying – falling out of the radio. And the best part of all, none of the people interviewed ever visited Mexico (barring the one guy who was in Texas and waved at the border).
It’s just 45 minutes that you’ll never get back, but you’ll be glad you gave them up. Watch it now. And be sure to check out the web page of the filmmaker and look through his gallery of old album covers.
*That is a lie. I have no friends from Saskatchewan.
**Granted, brands just love playing people’s fascination with the foreign – like Patagonia getting all of the wannabe outdoorsy folks like me all rared (sp?) up about the alluring wilds of South American.