Here and now we begin what is the most vital exploration in human history. We set sail like valiant crusaders. (Cue foreboding mist) We begin our daring expedition, one that takes us to the dark side (and back…we hope). From simple pendejadas to cutting-edge risk-taking and even the downright dastardly, we’ll examine the people, places, events, and behaviors that have discarded and sidestepped enough shame to earn the title of sinvergüenza. First, let’s begin with a historical jog past a few notable sinverguenzas, since then you can better spot one when you see one – and then you should quickly run in the other direction, avoiding eye contact along the way.
Latinos coined the word “sinverguenza,” so let’s begin there – with a people blessed with a distinguished and dignified heritage, a rich history that will be roundly ignored below.
Lazy Nomads Say “No Mas” (9000-7000 BCE — ish)
Tired of all the walking already, a Neolithic nomad simply sat on a tree stump after a particularly hairy encounter with a mountain lion and said, “Fuck that bullshit. That’s it. I’m not moving. I’m not moving another fucking step.” And that was that with all the roving. Now his sinverguenza descendants repeat these exact words when the remote control seemingly taunts them from all the way across the room.
Origin of Latino Tardiness (L.T.L. – Latino Time Lag) – (1492ish)
European explorers arrive and lovingly hand out disease-ridden blankets and handshakes (among other things). While the more punctual indigenous peoples may have teased their buddies stuck at the end of the receiving line or the doubtful others who were off brooding suspiciously, guess who had the last laugh? The Latinos who result from the subsequent commingling of the European and the surviving indigenous peoples logically inherited a healthy intrinsic fear of being on time to anything and then passed it down to subsequent generations. As a result, even today, many Latinos are hard-pressed to arrive on time because who knows what’s in that Appletini…Now we’re late to christenings, quinceaneras, funerals, and, to the chagrin of many employers, work.
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, we don’t think so. We’ll wait in the car, just in case.
You Put Your Right Foot In…(1838)
Mexican history brings us notable dictator, soldier, and all-around complex guy, Santa Anna, who mourned the loss of the leg he lost in battle in true sinvergüenza style – by sending it off with full military honors. Did he also command a 21-gun salute after a bowel movement? Perhaps. But such is the way of a true Sinvergüenza.
To Tweeze or Not to Tweeze? – Birth of Frida (1907)
Never one to conform, celebrated Mexican artist Frida Kahlo stops just short of corn rolls and dreads when she purposely exaggerates her mustache and unibrow in self-portraits. It seems that this was to challenge the western ideal of beauty. To his credit, Sesame Street’s Bert held a similar aesthetic revolution for muppets everywhere.
“Ahi Esta El Detalle” – Birth of Cantinflas and Hip-Hop? (August 1911)
The late, great Mexican comedian and film star, Cantinflas, with sharp tongue and lightning quick wit –blazes a cinematic trail, and, as an unintended byproduct, inspires the later hip-hop generation to toss its belts into the nearest dumpster and droop its collective pants. You’re welcome, Hip-Hop. Sorry, frustrated mothers.
El Padrino as Zapata? (1952)
Hollywood is ravaged with sinverguenzas. For instance, Latinos and Hollywood have always had a complex relationship – like cats and water. As a result, Marlon Brando plays the title character and Mexican Revolutionary in Viva Zapata (1952).
More Hollywood Desvergonzadas (1961)
Natalie Wood, in brown face, plays the Puerto Rican Maria in Westside Story (1961).
Taco Bell Arrives… (June 9, 1962)
A. Mexican cuisine is nothing more than greasy things in tortillas
B. Mexicans hate your colon… and wish it much, much harm
C. ketchup and salsa are, in fact, the same thing
D. authentic Mexican cuisine includes Chimichangas and Nacho Bell Grandes, is eaten with a spork, and is washed down with Diet Mountain Dew.
The ultimate sinvergüenzas, deserving a severe chimichanga lashing, are Latinos who’ve eaten, worked in, or have stepped foot near a Taco Bell. You should know better.
“Que Dice El Publico?” (1962)
The world suffered from a great void, a vacuum of meaning, until Sabado Gigante is born on Chilean television in 1962 and eventually matures into what we’ve enjoyed on Univision since 1986. Finally, programming that is equal parts boobs, degrading competitions, and ubiquitous commercials. For most sinverguenzas, they could have stopped at boobs and had the same success.
“Say Hello to My Little Friend” (1983)
Oye mane – Al Pacino, armed with spasmodic, kangaroo-ish dance moves and an accent guilty of ear-rape, made Cubans and Cuban-Americans wince with pride and clink tiny coffee cups in celebration of Scarface and its culturally sensitive depiction of a ruthless Cuban drug lord with a heart of gold… and, invariably, a torso speckled with lead. Next up, Ashton Kutcher to play legendary civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez, in a bio pic costarring Linsday Lohan as Dolores Huerta. Si se puede, dude.
The Mustache that Shook the World (1987)
An upstart Puerto Rican-Jewish go-getter arrives on the 80’s talk show scene with a ‘stache that has its own limo and rivals The Trebeck, The Selleck, and The Cantinflas. Geraldo Rivera’s gall does not end with his decision to sport a silent film villain’s twirl-worthy mustache. He unflinchingly delves into hard-hitting topics like “Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them.” To this day Rivera reminds impressionable children everywhere that talent and insight have no place on television. He has emerged as a living sinverguenza icon – and he continues to prove that he deserves the highest honor in the sinverguenza pantheon. Honorable mention: (2003): As a Fox News war correspondent in Iraq (that should scream sinverguenza already), the embedded journalist proceeds to broadcast sensitive details about U.S. military troop movement and then excitedly draws a thoroughly helpful map in the sand. He is promptly asked to leave the country and is escorted to Kuwait where he probably cleans the sand and embarrassment from his whiskers. Fear not, a sinverguenza is not kept down for long.
Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Wachu Gonna Do? (1989)
Cops debuts on Fox and finally floods primetime with Latinos. The reality show has continued to provide a complex and nuanced look at shirtless minorities everywhere. Sinvergüenzas finally get a place to shine.
The Man, The Myth, The Mullet (1991)
The Ecuadorian rapper and sinvergüenza pioneer, Gerardo, breaks sinvergüenza ground with his hit single, “Rico Suave.” In this classic opus, the wordsmith muses the complexities of relationships with lines like, “I don’t love you but I need you/ Would you rather have me lie/ Take a piece of your pie and say bye?/ Or be honest and rub your thighs?”… nuff said?
Carlos Zambrano vs. Gatorade (May 27, 2009)
Honorable mention: Scores of mothers nationwide cover the innocent eyes of their children as the Cubs’ ace readjusts himself rather zealously on the mound between each pitch. Working theory: This may be why he tires in the late innings. Plus, we hope he doesn’t go blind – or that his hairy palms mess with his change up.
“No, Grandma, No” (Date unknown, because you’re trying to erase all memory of the event)
As you helped your abuela clean out the attic, you ran into a box filled with rusty, medieval-looking sex toys. You washed your eyes out with bleach, but the image is emblazoned into your mind. Now you know: Abuelita’s a sinverguenza.
You (Today. Right Now.)
This is only a potent taste of sinverguenza behavior. Yes, I know. It tastes like a fat man’s armpit on a 95 degree day, but we must persevere. Remember the words of the immortal Fredrick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Your humble and handsome servant-