HIJACKED HOLIDAY? ADS EXPLOIT CINCO DE MAYO.Byline: Brent Hopkins Staff Writer
Cinco De Mayo Cinco de Mayo
(Spanish; “Fifth of May”)
Mexican holiday commemorating the Mexican victory over the French at Puebla in 1862. The French army, better-equipped and far larger than the Mexican army, had been sent by Napoleon III to conquer Mexico. , celebrated in the ever-growing Mexican-American community for its historical significance, has attained a new meaning, scholars say, one with a more cynically American value - commercialism.
Rather than focusing on the traditional, family-oriented celebration, they say, the holiday has become a marketing tool for beer companies and chip manufacturers, looking to borrow cultural traditions to make a quick buck.
``There can't be any holiday without commercialization these days,'' said Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia (born April 28, 1973) is an American comedian and actor. He first came to public attention with his performance as Hector Lopez on the show Becker, and currently stars as Hugo "Hurley" Reyes in the American television series Lost. , dean of humanities for California State University, Northridge CSUN offers a variety of programs leading to bachelor's degrees in 61 fields and master's degrees in 42 fields. The university has over 150,000 alumni. It's also home to a summer musical theater/theater program known as TADW (TeenAge Drama Workshop) that leads teenagers through an . ``Everything is driven by consumerism.''
The problem with the Americanized version of the holiday, he said, lies in its insensitive treatment of an important Mexican event, a military victory over French colonialists. His colleague, David Diaz, a professor in CSUN's Chicano Studies Chicano studies is an academic discipline. Like most branches of Ethnic studies, it incorporates aspects of various other disciplines, including history, sociology, psychology, and literary and textual analyses from the academic studies of the English and Spanish languages. Department, agreed, pointing to a 1970s misappropriation misappropriation n. the intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorized purpose, particularly by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person's estate, or by any of the tradition.
``Cinco de Mayo became an important local event to celebrate Mexican history and to serve as a catalyst for Chicano culture,'' Diaz said. ``But when corporate America started to recognize the future trajectory of the Chicano population - the level which it has reached today - it started to support the activity.''
With a Latino community that has grown by as much as 47 percent in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. County in the past decade, companies saw a rich market to tap into. As a result, the small neighborhood fiestas of the past suddenly sported beer stands with corporate logos, hawking cervezas and hyping up traditions that didn't necessarily have any cultural significance.
``When you see the (promotional) opportunities from the alcohol companies, those little cards on your table that say 'el drinko for el cinco,' that's pretty crass marketing,'' Garcia said. ``Non-Mexicans get in the spirit, and the way to do it in this society is to consume some spirits.''
Though these promotions are still very much in effect, there are alternatives, the professors reported. Rather than going out and slamming down tequila and munching bar nachos in the name of the holiday, Garcia recommended a more culturally sensitive approach.
At the Vallarta Supermarket in Canoga Park, business was booming Friday with patrons gearing up for their own celebrations.
``Cinco de Mayo es especial es·pe·cial
1. Of special importance or significance; exceptional: an occasion of especial joy.
2. ,'' said Nelly Cuentas, a Canoga Park resident waiting for her order from the butcher.
She was stocking up on diesmillo de res for her carne asada
``We try to celebrate all the holidays for all the cultures,'' she said. ``We try to include different things so the students can learn more.''
And on the business end, there are responsible parties, as well. Rod Gietzen, whose wife is the namesake for their two Yolanda's restaurants in Ventura County, is preparing for his business to double tonight. Sensitive to the feelings of the Mexican-American community, he's making sure to do it right, hiring authentic mariachis and not relying on inappropriate promotions. While he sells more margaritas on Cinco De Mayo than on most days, he wants his customers to enjoy them responsibly.
``We order extra everything, especially in the beverage department,'' he said. ``But I'm more in the restaurant business, and I'd like to keep it that way. We're here for the neighborhood, just like always. Most people are well-behaved, but there's always a few who get out of hand.''
Through efforts like Gietzen's, Cinco de Mayo can reattain Re`at`tain´
v. t. 1. To attain again. its historical significance, Diaz said.
``Cinco de Mayo has become institutionalized in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize
tr.v. in·sti·tu·tion·al·ized, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·ing, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·es
a. To make into, treat as, or give the character of an institution to.
b. in the Southwestern culture,'' he said. ``European-Americans have become cultured in Mexican-American ways.''
(1 -- color) Elia Cardenas, left, and Mauricio Bustos select avocados Friday at Vallarta Supermarket for a Cinco de Mayo party.
(2 -- color) Vallarta Supermarket butcher Manuel Sanchez slices ranchera The ranchera is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico. Although closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco in the post-revolutionary period, rancheras are also played today by norteño (or Conjunto) or banda (or Duranguense) groups. cuts of meat, the most popular for Cinco de Mayo.
Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer