Feature photo by petercruise
Nice try, Lady Gaga. Your attempt to be inclusive toward the fight for immigration reform is appreciated, but like prematurely starting to applaud, sometimes those good intentions turn to shit. Now, I realize having such a vocal supporter of human rights and an immensely popular figure sharing the helm of this debate could seem like a win-win situation for all of us but the song in question even makes me question my position. In it, the lyrics I don’t speak your language are repeated several times, which to me seems retroactive. We are not trying to further the distance between ourselves and the rest of the country and it’s culture, we’re trying to enter it and flourish in it, adding our own distinct qualities. Not blindly disregarding it. The message we want to send across is not a reluctance to cultural assimilation but of multiculturalism in which we can all embrace each other’s ethnic qualities. We do speak your language because it is the language de facto of the people and we are the people. Notions like these further separate us from the rest of the pack. I should also point out that Mexican producer, disc jockey and songwriter, Fernando Garibay co-wrote the song with her. But just because he’s Mexican doesn’t means that it’s okay.
Another problem I have with the song is that it pretty much makes no sense. The lyrics that she sings in Spanish, talk of (or sound like, most videos are not of the greatest quality and I don’t trust lyrics from fans) falling in love in summer or in August and the last time I checked, August is in summer. Unless she’s talking of the southern hemisphere, even then, Immigrants hailing from the Rioplatense verbal region should probably assimilate to the seasons present up here, if not for fear of pneumonia or heat stroke.
Now, it wasn’t long ago that Irish and Italian immigrants were having the same beef that Latin American immigrants are receiving. However, over the decades the continuing appropriation of the host culture, acceptance of their once thought of alien culture, and the generations upon generations of those who were been born in this country have facilitated their status as standard American fare. Latin America is still seen as exotic, even though we’re of the same new world stock.
Whereas Alejandro, her earlier foray into a Hispanic like (or should we say Swedish) sound, was just a bit of fun and heartbreak, Americano is anything but fun or heartbreaking. The lyrics you can’t catch me and I’m at the edge of the law do not sound as endearing and clever as she might have thought them to sound. She’s already enraged Latino activists with the use of the sometimes pejorative “chola” and the religious contents of her Judas video, the former being the semantic argument and the latter being the stupid one.
There isn’t anything wrong with Lady Gaga, per se, just that she can come across as a bit of an appropriation artist. When she isn’t stealing from Madonna, she’s using homosexuality as a marketing tool and so forth. I do believe that she genuinely feels these things and that she does care for, as she has put it “disenfranchised communities”, however it has to be said that we’re all suffering a bit from Dances With Wolves syndrome (or for those of you without the vast archive of useless pop culture knowledge, Avatar syndrome).
For die-hard (Lady) Gaga fans, it should prove to be a success. In the same way Amy Sedaris or Tina Fey can do no wrong (for me) she in their eyes is the be all end all. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued to hear the album version. According to her it shall have a mariachi-techno fusion which sounds like it could be a counterpart to this. However, she did say that in the extended version of the album she will have a full on mariachi version which should prove if not interesting at least buzz worthy.
To conclude, the song is alright, save for the lyrics I mentioned, but then again, it isn’t the finished product. Either way, let’s all try to describe us as people who are worthy of being in this country because of our shared geography and historical plight and less like people you see in bad movies about East L.A.