Thursday, July 23, 2009

Austin Hispanic contractors' group apologizes for posting video deemed offensive to gays

The Austin American-Statesman reported yesterday that a local Hispanic contractors' organization had removed a video from its website and given apologies after a local television station received complaints that it contained demeaning portrayals of gays ("Hispanic contractors' group pulls video called demeaning to gays").

The U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association had recently been in the news for leading a successful protest against a morning talk radio show on KLBJ-AM in which a co-host had repeatedly referred to Latino immigrants as "wetbacks". On Monday, the parent owner of the radio station announced that the show would be cancelled. That same day, though, KVUE TV broadcast the news report highlighting that the same organization that led the fight against the anti-immigrant slur had the questionable video on its website.

What's exactly in the video and is it truly offensive to gays? You be the judge. The American-Statesman says that it consists of outtakes from a promotional ad for the Association featuring Mexican-born comedian Paul Rodriguez which were never used in the ad that actually aired. The paper described it as "Rodriguez dressed as a construction worker walking in an effeminate manner".

The Association has taken the link to the video off their site but I've managed to get my hands on a copy and have posted it above. The clip in question begins at the :30 second mark and lasts 35 seconds. In it, Rodriguez seems to be ad-libbing his way through the shoot and starts riffing on the gay community in Austin, speaking both in English and Spanish. Here is the transcript with translation of Spanish-language phrases:
Paul Rodriguez: Doesn't Austin have like a gay... a big gay population?
Contractor in blue: Si, esta rogado por locas ["Yes, nellies always ask him out"]
Paul Rodriguez: So you go, you go [prances] 'and specially for you...' [walks and simulates grabbing contractor's butt, contractors laugh, Rodriguez goes back and simulates holding contractor's testicles]
Paul Rodriguez: Cough! [contractors laugh]
Paul Rodriguez: [prances again] Estas bien nalgón ["You're cute, big butt guy"]
Paul Rodriguez: Let's go, let's go...
Off-camera: [Unintelligible]
Paul Rodriguez: [prances some more] dale a tu cuerpo alegria, Macarena ["Give your body happiness, Macarena", a quote from the song Macarena by Los Del Rio]. Here we go...
At 1:57 there's another bit in which Rodriguez addresses the two contractors as women and hands them over what he describes as invitations for them to join Jenny Craig and lose some weight.

After removing the link from the Association's site, spokesperson Paul Saldaña, speaking to the American-Statesman, said "The video was in poor taste, and we certainly need to be held accountable to the community's expectations."

Frank Fuentes, the organization's chairman, told the paper "We shouldn't have had it up there. I personally don't think it equates to what happened on the radio station, but I can understand why people would think that."

Both Saldaña and Fuentes said that Rodriguez had initiated the banter and that it was never part of a script. They said they had contacted local LGBT organizations and advocates and requested a meeting with them to apologize for the incident. The meeting, they said, is scheduled for later this week.

Their immediate action to remove the link and willingness to be the ones to actively seek a meeting with local LGBT leaders speaks well for the Association despite having posted the video in the first place. I also find it suspicious that people started to complain to media only after the Association's successful actions in shutting down a xenophobic radio show. Something tells me that fans of the show combed through the Association's website to find anything they could pin on them and show them in a bad light.

As for the video's content, does it offend? I guess it depends on your sensibility. To me it comes across as puerile, stereotypical, and - yes - a tad homophobic. But hey! It's Paul Rodriguez! Does it absolutely rile me up and make me want to boycott Austin, Texas? Oh, please, there are bigger fish to fry. At least, once on notice, the organization acted swiftly and properly.


Anonymous said...

I didn't find it offensive... Its just Paul Rodriguez acting like a jackass behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you mean something other than "boycott Austin, Texas," right?
Boycott Hispanic Contractors, maybe, boycott Paul Rodriguez, maybe, but Austin? I didn't do it, and being a gay boy, it doesn't seem like I need to be punished for his stupidity.
But anyway, good catch. The flurry of insults on Austin radio is a bigger mess than just the incident you mention.

Blabbeando said...

I meant the boycott Austin comment in gist. I actually don't think this warrants a boycott of anything. Thanks for the comments...

JamTheCat said...

I'm a gay man living in San Antonio, and I can't even begin to see this silly video as worthy of anyone getting on their high horse. Jesus, talk about a juvenile reaction. Grow a skin, people.