Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America. By William Nericcio. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007. Pp 1 + 248, figures, illustrations, notes, bibliography, image credits, index.
William Anthony Nericcio has published a timely and powerful study on the images of the "Mexican" in American culture. Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America is timely, even though the author admits to a sixteen year long gestation period, because of the United States' intensified focus on securing borders for national security and the recent border wall proposal. Tex[t]-Mex powerfully blends ethnic, cultural, and film studies with a strong theoretical foundation that uses humor to expose the agenda lurking beneath the Mexican stereotypes that invade American academia, film, and even cartoons.
Nericcio construct his close reading of the Mexican stereotype using a Backstory, two Image Gallery sections, and five chapters. The chapters include topics such as Hollywood films, actors, cartoon characters, and a hopeful look at contemporary Chicano/a artistsVisual supplements throughout the book bolster Tex[t]-Mex's central theme of the importance of images on stereotypes. The images range from hand-drawn sketches to elaborate collages of board game box tops, surgical procedures on Speedy Gonzales, advertisements of Aunt Jemima, and boxes of Tide. To reinforce why these images are so vital to his argument, Nericcio cleverly juxtaposes these infectious, defamatory Mexican portrayals with Hitler's order to "his media industry to create a mass of common visionaries" (17).
The Backstory explains the whys and the hows of this sophisticated take on handling Hispanic "types." Nericcio explains how growing up in the border-town of Laredo shaped his early thinking (and his own name changes). This book grew out of a vendetta for Speedy Gonzales, but the mission of the text is strictly archival. Nericcio seeks to chronicle how the entertainment industry has created a particular type of character embedded with Mexican traits and how that type has evolved to affect both individual Americans and American popular culture as a whole. The Backstory also offers readers historical accounts of the Mexican revolutions and border battles that coincided with the burgeoning of Hollywood industry.
The first two chapters give the reader a Hollywood history lesson. Chapter One, "Hallucinations of Miscegenation and Murder: Dancing along the...