From the “movies that will suck but will be fascinating to watch develop” department comes this gem, courtesy Hollywood Reporter’s “Heat Vision” blog: The remnants of New Line Cinema are doing a live-action/CGI “Speedy Gonzales” movie, scripted by the writers of “Garfield” and with George Lopez voicing the title character: http://www.heatvisionblog.com/2010/02/speedy-gonzales-george-lopez-film-new-line-jerry-weintraub.html
Yegh. No es bueno.
The big question hovering over this property was always going to be how they’d deal with the “delicate” matter of ethnic stereotyping. As it turns out, New Line’s solution is to take “delicate” completely out of the equation. Ann Lopez speaks of “George’s “Latino seal of approval.”, which sounds like a flat-out admission that George Lopez is mainly on board as a “firewall” against innevitable criticism. I mean, let’s be real here… Lopez has demonstrated almost no range, no notable skill for voices not his own (and he doesn’t sound like Speedy), has no real following and isn’t all that funny; so why WOULD they hire him but not for the “cred?”
Ann Lopez goes on to say that “We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s — the racist Speedy,” which probably tells all that needs be told about how this is being approached. One must, of course, be sensitive to Latino concerns about Hollywood bigotry… but I’ve got to ask if in this case it’s A.) possible and B.) necessary to do anything about this.
The problem with the Speedy cartoons is that they weren’t generally trading in ethnic-caricature in a big, showy, obvious way: The Mexican mice were the good guys, played as happy and wholly functional until bad guys – usually non-Mexican cats, Daffy or Sylvester – showed up to cause trouble. Plus, Speedy himself was a kind of a superhero, who thwarted villains and saved people/mice. The lone running “race joke” is of the ironic-reverse variety: Mexicans are “supposed to be” slow and lazy, so it’s “funny” that the guy who runs fast and has all this energy is Mexican.
Here’s the thing: Do people still “get” that that’s what’s supposed to funny about this character? What I mean is, is this one of those cartoon-caricatures that the march of culture has rendered no longer as “blunt” as it was originally intended? Audiences in the 1950s likely laughed along with the wink-wink-nudge-nudge “irony” of Speedy’s supposed race/behavior dissonance… but did the ‘gag’ still hold in the 60s, 70s and 80s, or did Speedy just become “guy who runs fast, happens to be Mexican?”
My generation grew up watching “DuckTales,” just for one example, and I doubt that any great percentage of us were especially cogniscent that Uncle Scrooge McDuck was a dated racial-caricature of a cheapskate Scotsman. Is this where Speedy is, or is there still genuine offense to be had? I suppose I should ask: Latino readers, IS there a “consensus” on Speedy Gonzales in Latino culture? Is it positive? Negative?
In any case, I doubt the movie version will have any room for Speedy’s cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez…