Why are the covers of DC’s Hispanic Heritage Month so awful?

September 15 marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in America, as this day marks Independence Day for most Central American countries. (Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16, but they start celebrating the night before.) DC Comics, which now has a few high-profile Latin characters in its superhero stable, decided to commemorate the occasion with a series of special covers.

Alas, it has already gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Oh my God, now what?

Each of these covers revolves around food. You got the question, two Green Lanterns, Bane (who is from the fictional land of Santa Prisca) and others (but not my man Bunker) who gobble food and…that’s it. It’s DC’s great tribute to the diverse and beautiful cultures of Latin America.

Stop spreading tacos all over El Paso, Jaime!!

As unimaginative as it was, and as much as it upset people, DC somehow found a way to dig itself deeper. The issue that has Twitter in turmoil is the coverage of Titans United: Blood Pact #1, which features Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (even though he’s not in the actual issue, but that’s another issue). The original cover by Jorge Molina is quite beautiful (although incomplete) and pays homage to a famous painting, “La Patria”, by Jorge González Camarena.

Unfortunately, it ran into copyright issues and was never supposed to see the light of day, but it was released anyway. Either way, DC had to make changes to this beautiful cover in order to officially release it. See if you can spot the differences.

The original and
Kyle read Too many tamales like a kid.

Give me a second to stop laughing and I’ll break this down.

Let’s start small. The grammar on this “Viva Mexico!!” the flag is atrocious. It should be “¡Viva México!” Google Translate could have told you that.

Second, is it really ugly? Kyle’s grandiose pose in the original makes sense in context, but in the second it looks like a particularly dumb ad campaign: “Our tamales taste GREAT!”

Speaking of tamales, there are tamales, in case you hadn’t noticed, which of course you did because there’s a whole bag full of them. So many that some float in space. (Hey, there are worse earthly foods to drop into the hands of unsuspecting aliens.) Because if you can’t pay homage to a famous Mexican artist, apparently the best thing to do is more food.

Another point I would like to mention is that Kyle Rayner’s Mexican heritage has barely been a factor in his life. He didn’t grow up around his Mexican father and only found out he was half-Mexican as an adult.

This does NOT mean that someone cannot learn and embrace their heritage even after growing up. This is absurd – of course they can! And honestly, I’d love to see a comic in which Kyle learns that aspect of himself. It might even involve him eating tamales from time to time. (DC, call me.)

But DC doesn’t seem to have any interest in exploring Mexican history or culture, whether in terms of Kyle’s family history or not at all: they just pulled out his ancestry (and a whole bunch of tamales) to take advantage of Hispanic Heritage Month, after which I’m sure they’ll both be gone. Again guys, Bunker grew up in Mexico and is just there if you wanted a cheap money grab.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending: a few days after tamales-gate, Molina tweeted that his original cover was going to be used after all and shared the official finished version. While that’s great news, it doesn’t solve the larger problem with these Hispanic Heritage Month covers: the fact that they celebrate Latin cuisine and little else.

But I like Tamales. Why is it bad?

I do not claim to be an expert on Mexican culture. I haven’t been there since I was ten years old. However, as your friendly neighborhood Mexican American, I have some opinions on all of this.

Now, is there anything inherently wrong with showcasing Latin cuisine for Hispanic Heritage Month? Not really. Food is an important part of every country’s culture, so it only makes sense to include it in any celebration honoring that country.

So why is DC’s approach so horrible?

Americans tend to reduce Mexican culture to a few very specific aspects that they love, and then dismiss the rest, along with the real people behind that culture. They happily eat Taco Tuesdays or drop margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, then they turn around and pretend that all Latin immigrants are drug-dealing rapists who came to steal “their” jobs. (Just for the record, no they aren’t and no they don’t.)

At worst, non-Hispanic Americans act (jokingly or otherwise) as if enjoying Mexican culture means they can’t be bigots and have no obligation to treat Latinos as equals. In 2012, the mayor of West Haven, Connecticut responded to accusations of anti-Latin bias and the question “what are you doing for the Latino community today” by saying, “I could have tacos when I will go home”. (His office was duly flooded with tacos.)

Since 2017, another aspect of Mexican culture has seeped into American consciousness thanks to Disney’s coconut, which revolves around the Día de Muertos, an important religious holiday. It also pays tribute to Mexican celebrities like Pedro Infante. I really hope that this film, which I love with all my heart, made people aware of different aspects of Mexican culture, including pop culture.

But Disney nearly screwed it up four years earlier when it tried to trademark the phrase “Día de los Muertos” — which, again, is a holiday, not a product. Here we have another example of non-Hispanic people wanting to own and enjoy Latin culture without any regard for the people behind it. DC’s faux pas with these covers is nowhere near that level, but it’s part of the same problem.

What should DC have done instead?

Literally anything else!

Ask Jessica Cruz to enjoy ranchera music! Let Kyle go to Xochimilco! Heck, team up Blue Beetle with el Chapulín Colorado for whatever matters to me! At least it would indicate that someone plugged “stuff from Mexico” into a search engine at some point instead of going to the local Taco Bell and saying “Hey, you know what would be fun?”

The fact that DC chose to focus on food and only food reiterates that it’s the one thing about us that America seems to value, and it shows a serious lack of care and respect for people. cultures they are meant to honor this month. The food is apart of Latin culture, not a substitute for all cultures. The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month is to celebrate these cultures and educate non-Hispanics about the peoples and histories they don’t yet know. Highlighting tacos and flan is overly simplistic, lazy and unnecessary.

In an attempt to combat this unnecessary laziness, I may have peppered this article too much with links that can teach you all the cool Mexican things DC has missed. Even if you choose not to click on it, I hope you got something out of my rantings, including something to think about the next time you bite into a tamal. (Yes, that’s the singular shape of tamales. The more you know!)

About Bobby F. Lopez

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