Smell Test (When Does Satire Go Bad?)

Hey…you. Vato, you there…Yes, you…step out of your lowrider, please. Can you, perchance, turn down your rattling car stereo and bring your scary friend along. Yeah, that guy right there next to you with his greased back hair and the laugh-now-cry-later-tattoo on his forearm. Not that guy. The other guy. The guy with the tattooed teardrops.

I’d like to ask you both some questions…Oh, sure, you can bring your teenage bride and your eight kids along. Oh, that’s cute. I didn’t know they made working lawnmowers that tiny. Oooohh how adorable- they have tiny chrome, spinning rims and everything? 22s? Impressive. By the way, I think you dropped your rosary behind you. Oops, and now your sawed-off shotgun, too. No, of course, I’ll be brief . Yes, I understand you have a gang meeting to go to. You’re the president? Outstanding. Of course. Sir?… Sir?… Oh, come on now! Where in heck did that cactus and sombrero come from? For peetsake,  why are you napping now? You’re gonna get a sunburn, sir. Can’t that wait? Your children have gathered near my car and I think they’re stealing my tires and leaving it on blocks…I’m convinced the smallest one is attempting to distract me with some elaborate ethnic dance or something of the sort.

So, anyway. I would like to pick your brain about satire…. No, I said “SATIRE”. You don’t know what that is?… Really?… No, I just wanted to pick your brain about whether it can go too far – satire that is. May I begin? Okay…stop. That’s fine. sirs, please remain seated, this lawn is already immaculately manicured, please put down the weedwhacker and the Corona. I’ll proceed if you don’t mind…Anyway – is it okay to use our satirical stick to gouge and jab at everything – including stereotypes and other things that might be construed as off limits? When does the satire cross into racism and general insensitivity? Oh no. Your eyes are glazing over…Have I lost you? What if I shake these colorful maracas and wear this fruit hat, like so? Look, I’m Carmen Miranda. Look. Look.

No, I assure you – I am in no way affiliated with immigration or any law enforcement agency. I’ll take your silence as a sign that you are pondering my question. You are pondering, yes? Let me add some more: Does it matter who the authors and audience of this potentially offensive satire is? In other words, can only Latinos make Latino jokes without reprisal? Is it like an “inside joke” sort of thing? Where are the lines drawn? Pardon me, sir, but I think that your wife or girlfriend is currently beating a child aganst another child…Oh, she says it’s because she lost her chanclas and isn’t wearing a belt and can find no suitable extension cords or wire hangers nearby? Okay, as long as you’re aware. Well…I’ll try to proceed. Another query — Should we (anybody) even be laughing at these things? What is being gained through such excerises? Sirs… sirs..sirrs…please…I think one of your infants just stabbed me in the kidney with a rusty blade…Could I bother you to call an ambulance? I’m bleeding quite profusely….wake up, please wake up…..okay…now stop celebrating and patting him on the back…it’s getting cold..oh, so cold…

Your handsome and humble servant-

El Guapo

El Guapo writes The Daily Refried, and is, without question, the foremost authority on all things sinvergüenza. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @TheDailyRefried.

photos by  Phillip Pessar cliff1066™stevendepolo