Ask a Mexican

Why don't more stations offer English subtitles?

Dear Mexican: In Philadelphia, where I live, there are three Spanish-language stations on regular broadcast television. None of them offer English subtitles. I'll bet plenty of people of all heritages would like to check out Spanish-language television, or the news from Central America or whatever, if we could get subtitles. I called one of the stations (Univisión) about it, but they said there are no plans to offer subtitles. Channel 35 here in Philly has Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish and Italian programming, all with subtitles. Your thoughts?

Broad Street Broad

Dear Broad Street Gabacha: Your letter has been in my ¡Ask a Mexican! archives for so long that your question is no longer needed — but I'll answer it now because it allows me to raise a great point. Last year, Univisión announced that it was going to offer English-language captions for most of its telenovelas and even some news programs, although it didn't necessarily have gabachos in mind. Rather, the move was prompted by Univisión's realization that assimilation is inevitable in this country, and that if it didn't acknowledge that English is the ultimate destiny for every Mexican in el Norte, it would become as relevant to the Mexican experience as canned tortillas. It's not a new tale: The ethnic press has long had a vibrant place in American letters (the first Spanish-language newspaper published in los Estados Unidos goes back to the early nineteenth century), but the only ones that have survived more than a couple of generations are the ones that understand that they're only temporary phenomena, that their days are numbered. That's why this infernal column also has a shelf life: When the Reconquista is finally complete, I will turn the burro over to my gabacho intern so that he can explain America's largest and whiniest minority to the ruling Mexi class.

Dear Mexican: I'm a gringa from Iowa, and I've been dating my Mexican boyfriend for about three months now. He knows I'm from a background that's as white as they come, since I'm a German-Norwegian mix, but he fell in love with me because I think I shocked him. See, I speak Spanish, I listen to Spanish music, and we even met at a club for cumbia and bachata dancing. And he is puro mexicano, with no English. He always calls me his "sexi gringa/güera," pero lately, he's been calling me his mexicana también when we've gone out dancing or for drinks. Why is that?

Melodia Confusa

Dear Confused Melody Gabacha: Because he loves you. You're no longer just a gabacha to screw, but a mujer ready to meet the familia. Better make sure you incorporate chorizo into your hot dish — and I'm not talking about your hoohah.

CONFIDENTIAL TO: The East Los Angeles College familia. Ustedes graciously invited me to be your commencement speaker earlier this year, and I stood ustedes up last week through a calendar error all my own. I profusely apologize to everyone at East Los Angeles College for insulting you in this way — you deserve so much better. Perdóname, Profe Godinez, my fellow Chapman University alum, who recommended me as the commencement speaker in the first place. A big ol' :-( to the ELAC student on Twitter who asked a very simple question: "Donde estás, buey?" I will apologize for this for the rest of my life, I will never be able to live this mistake down, and I will do everything possible to try to make this up to ustedes. For starters, gentle readers: ELAC is an amazing institution that has long hosted a book festival (where they've graciously invited me in the past) and has many amazing teachers and students. Also? I'm the biggest pendejo in the world — but ustedes already knew that!

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano