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Spanish is only for talking to the 'help'
February 7, 2003 8:22 AM   Subscribe

A Vanity Fair advice writer thinks you shouldn't learn Spanish. Unless of course you want to talk to the Help. Got word of this in one of those darn petition emails this morning...anyone have a copy available to confirm this? Maybe they thought Latinos wouldn't read this issue? except...Oh yeah, Salma Hayek is on the cover.
posted by th3ph17 (38 comments total)

 
Qué el infierno?
posted by orange swan at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2003


It's Dame Edna, for crying out loud-you people never heard of him/her? (a comedian in drag, for those who don't know.) The story itself IS true tho.
posted by konolia at 8:27 AM on February 7, 2003


Dame Edna.
posted by konolia at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2003


Hmm.

Somebody is missing the joke. Getting upset about advice from Dame Edna (FAQ here) is like getting upset about advice from Dana Carvey's Church Lady.
posted by jdroth at 8:30 AM on February 7, 2003


I already received an obnoxious chain-foward email about this, requesting that I add my name to the bottom and pass it on if I want to demand Dame Edna's resignation, or something absurd like that.

I definitely don't find Dame Edna funny, but at least I'm intelligent enough to understand that it's supposed to be funny.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:36 AM on February 7, 2003


Missing the joke is much more common than getting the joke. Why aren't the petitioners more upset about the letter-writers disbelief: "Could this be true? Are we all going to have to speak Spanish?" MON DIEU!! NOT EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH?!?!?
posted by valval22 at 8:39 AM on February 7, 2003


To add:

I think one can assume that if Dame Edna's character is some sort of hoity-toity Brit, then she's referring almost exclusively to the Spanish, not "Latinos."
posted by rxrfrx at 8:39 AM on February 7, 2003


Metafilter: Bringing new meaning to meaningless sensationalism each day.

[head spinning]

Can anyone believe this guy Chris Rock? He's always saying negative things about black people, and using the "n" word!!! And get this... HBO has given him his own show!
posted by VulcanMike at 8:42 AM on February 7, 2003


Obviously, it's a joke

Obviously, the joke is desperately unfunny

"Latino = leaf blower" and "Latina = maid" are very painful stereotypes, I'm not surprised some people got angry.
Also, if you really want to make a joke about it, at least try to make it even remotely funny.

Sidenote: somehow I doubt VF would have run a watermelon joke. I don't see why Latin Americans should be a "safer" target for racist humor
posted by matteo at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2003


Maybe they thought Latinos wouldn't read this issue? except...Oh yeah, Salma Hayek is on the cover.

Exactly. So mayyyyyybe they thought Latinos would read this issue and find Dame Edna's parochial upper-class snobbery amusing. In other words, maybe they thought people had enough of a sense of humor and perspective to see that this isn't so much "A Vanity Fair advice writer"'s advice as it is a comedy bit. Apparently, on that, they were wrong.
posted by soyjoy at 8:44 AM on February 7, 2003


Also: the "Conde Nast Makes My Nipples Hard" Gawker people have already mentioned the same story. Are we really recycling their stuff?
posted by matteo at 8:46 AM on February 7, 2003


You know, I read Gawker and I wouldn't refer to my nipples as made hard from Conde Nast. Tumescent, maybe, but certainly not hard.
posted by haqspan at 8:50 AM on February 7, 2003


(via HispanicOnline.com)

NCLR: Boycott Vanity Fair, Dame Edna
Vanity Fair response
Commentary: 'Lighten Up, Already'
posted by LinusMines at 8:52 AM on February 7, 2003


Granted, not everyone on this side of the world is a British comedy junkie. Readers who don't know Dame Edna's penchant for outrageous commentary took her response at face value.

I'm now praying to a new found god that Barry/Edna will issue an apology that will cause even more of a ruckus.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:55 AM on February 7, 2003


Graydon Carter was right — irony is dead.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:08 AM on February 7, 2003


My favourite line: "or, if you`re American, try English"
posted by MarkC at 9:11 AM on February 7, 2003


so should we just protest poorly executed sarcasm? i would have thought it was funny if the Dame mocked the reader a bit more. All i knew was that my hispanic friend who emailed me was waaaay pissed and that i had no idea who Dame Edna was.

and the lighten up, already comemntary...

When I read her saying, "Forget Spanish. There`s nothing in that language worth reading except Don Quixote," I heard, "Spanish literature includes some of the greatest stories ever written."

What? does that sound like someone streching it just a bit? I prefer admissions of outrageous comedy to apologetics. [the admission of outrageous comedy, i accept, and won't be signing any petitions.]

matteo re: watermelon joke....yeah, really.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:11 AM on February 7, 2003


The problem with satire or "obviously sarcastic humor" is when it's not far enough over the line to be unmistakenly taken as humor. If I was the Dame, I would have taken it further, so no one (or, at least people with a sense of humor) would have taken it to be offensive.
posted by gramcracker at 9:23 AM on February 7, 2003


Oh, please--it was a nice little bit of comedy, and I think the average Vanity Fair reader is going to get that when Dame Edna is saying, "someone named Garcia Lorca," when Lorca is one of the most important playwrights who ever lived, she is clearly joking. Don't forget that the target audience of VF is upper middle class, overeducated, would-be intellectuals. Anything further and the readers would have felt insulted.

There is a chasm of difference between this bit of coy mockery and something like the shameful "Wong Brothers" Abercrombie and Fitch tee-shirts. The former mocks racial insensitivity, the latter exploits it.
posted by vraxoin at 9:44 AM on February 7, 2003


That's too funny. I work for a company that does commercials for the concert industry. Last week, I saw the preview of a commercial we did for that freak. I guess it will be going on tour soon.
posted by Blubble at 10:06 AM on February 7, 2003


Uh, Blubble... are you sure you're in the right thread?
posted by soyjoy at 10:24 AM on February 7, 2003


Too close to the truth to be funny.
posted by Veritron at 10:35 AM on February 7, 2003


Being Spanish (from Spain, Spaniard) I find the text barely funny, and coming from Vanity Fair, instantly forgettable. Best thing IMHO is when he/she recommends her to learn English...
posted by samelborp at 10:48 AM on February 7, 2003


Can we just shut up about Dame Edna and start talking about Salma Hayek?
posted by Hildago at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2003


Come on. The picture, and the throwaway comment at the end ("learn english"), clearly branded it as a joke. And, Veritron, I'd say that closeness to the truth, especially in terms of the U.S.'s current xenophobia, is what makes the joke work. If you're mocking a stereotype that's obsolete, there's no point in mocking it.
posted by sodalinda at 11:25 AM on February 7, 2003


What? does that sound like someone streching it just a bit?

No. What are you talking about? Don Quixote is widely regarded as among the best literature ever written. Garcia Marquez & Borges also come to mind, though they're more recent / less classic.
posted by mdn at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2003


Buenos dias, senors y senoras. Como esta usted? Muy bien, gracias. Encantado de concerla. Mucho gusto de concerlo. Well, lo siento mucho, that's the end of my note cards for today. Guess I won't be starting One Hundred Years of Solitude tonight, but we're getting there slowly. PS, I didn't get the joke. Somebody with time on his/her hands please go fuck Dame Edna up the nose with a turkey baster.
posted by jfuller at 11:47 AM on February 7, 2003


Garcia Marquez & Borges also come to mind...

Thats just it. As mentioned above, Edna was clearly talking about Spanish not Latin-American. Otherwise, what also comes to mind for me is, oh, Neruda, Paz, Cortazar, Carpentier, Vallejo, Donoso, Fuentes, Vargas-Llosa etc.

As for Borges, one is welcome to disagree with Bloom's compliation of his western canon, but that Borges is even considered certainly at least merits that his work be deemed classic.

This Vanity Fair thing is too tiny and worhtless to merit any sort of rebuttal. I'm just seeing if I can take the thread in a more useful direction.
posted by vacapinta at 11:50 AM on February 7, 2003


mdn, No. What are you talking about? Don Quixote is widely regarded as among the best literature ever written. Garcia Marquez & Borges also come to mind, though they're more recent / less classic.

no, calling Don Quixote great literature isn't stretching it. Saying that you heard One thing when someone else said something else is stretching it. Like saying that when someone punched you in the face, you felt a sweet kiss.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:36 PM on February 7, 2003


Like saying that when someone punched you in the face, you felt a sweet kiss.

> Edna was clearly talking about Spanish not Latin-American.

So, to read Latin-American lit in the original we should study French or German? Is this person of indeterminate sex dim or what?
posted by jfuller at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2003


Is this a particularly good joke? No.

Is this joke in keeping with the "Dame Edna" character, created to mock social-climbing middle-class Australian matrons? Yes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2003


People at MetaFilter are complaining about bad/misplaced humor/sarcasm from Dame Edna?

(taking a leaf from VulcanMike:)

[head spinning]
posted by languagehat at 1:09 PM on February 7, 2003


> Edna was clearly talking about Spanish not Latin-American.

Of course. Latin is a dead language. Geesh.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:19 PM on February 7, 2003


If someone is actually reading or listening to Dame Edna and thinking that they are getting real advice, they need to have their head examined by a professional. S/he is a comedian for heaven's sake ... not someone I usually turn to for words of wisdom.
posted by Orb at 3:33 PM on February 7, 2003


Interestingly, I found this column to be very funny and was not offended, despite the fact that my own father holds opinions congruent with those being lampooned. On the other hand, I found the "Engrish" site discussed here far less funny and somewhat offensive. Chacun a son gout, I suppose.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 3:41 PM on February 7, 2003


Heh, this was brought up in my Mexican American Studies class, and we were collectively offended. But then the prof started talking about the email she had received that had informed her of this Grave Injustice, and a classmate offered to forward it to the whole class. Well then, I knew something hinky was up, and I fervently hoped they would not spam my inbox.

I hope the prof will figure out this was a joke, no matter how weak, and quench the righteous ire of the class. Otherwise I'll be put in the position of having to tell them off for being so gullible, and I really don't like to do that...at least not so early in the semester.
posted by lychee at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2003


Saying that you heard One thing when someone else said something else is stretching it.

are you not familiar with sarcasm and mockery? that's when you say one thing but mean (either directly or as the author behind the character) something else. hence, if you "get" the sarcastic or mocking tone, you will "hear one thing when someone else said something else. "

I'm not saying this was funny, as I didn't particularly think it was, but it was obviously trying to be.
posted by mdn at 7:47 PM on February 7, 2003


The MetaFilter Morgue, where experts perform postmodern postmortems on stillborn sarcasms.
posted by Opus Dark at 8:03 PM on February 7, 2003


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