Week 9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire

I was super interested by how Dawson views the American intervention in Latin American as not fully a military one, but an often welcomed cultural component. I personally remember watching El Gaucho Goofy  and really thinking it was funny because it certainly did reinforce the stereotypes that already are present in many porteños’ (people born in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires) minds, aside from the fact that its a genuinely funny and cute film if one does not watch it with a critical eye.

This week’s topic really begs the question of how much influence is too much influence when speaking in the context of ‘from a world power to a non-world power.’ I think that this topic is relevant today, especially in relation to social media, TV, and fashion. I do understand the point of view of wanting to keep a Latin American country (or a country in any part of the world) ‘untouched’ or ‘authentic’, especially when addressing issues like tourism or new infrastructure projects like resorts and hotels (not saying I think this way but I understand why someone would. However, I really think that Dorfman and Matterlart give a bit too much power to Donald Duck’s cartoons or any sort of cultural media.

Much like Dawson states, the cartoons and films were widely accepted by Latin American audiences and although I do understand Dorfman’s point of view,  to have someone who has grown up and studied in the USA tell Latin Americans that they should critique Disney cartoons seems odd to me. I think the specific passage we were given is a quite surfaced-based, pointing out the well known fact that Disney has a racist past (and sometimes present). Although I do agree with many of his arguments in a number of his works, especially those pertaining to human rights and the transition to democracy by many nations, I have always been ‘bothered’ (for the lack of a better word) that he is an individual that was born into a privileged Argentine family, received all the academic benefits of studying in North America, yet goes back ‘home’ to preach about his ‘findings’ while living in the cultural imperialist USA. Is it not more important to critique the American producer of this material (ie. Disney or its American audience) than to put this responsibility on solely Latin American audiences? America is definitely a cultural imperialist, but who are we as academics to tell people what they should consume and how?

2 thoughts on “Week 9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire

  1. Sabeeha Manji

    I really like your viewpoint on this. I didn’t realize the amount of exposure we had to Latin America through cartoons until just recently. And it is still definitely still a topic that is on the forefront of media today and this brings up the ideas of cultural appropriation and how accurately we are depicting Latin America- and how useful cartoons are for portraying these.

  2. Christiana Tse

    I think that it’s an interesting point that you bring up about whether we have the ‘right’ to tell Latin Americans how they should feel about a certain thing that portrays them whether it be within entertainment, culture, music, etc. I agree with your notion that it is important to call out implicit biases that we see rather than dictating what others should be doing. When we put this responsibility on Latin Americans, we are in a way adopting this same attitude of superiority; implying that they are unable to make valid decisions pertaining to how they feel they are portrayed. Great post! 🙂


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