Sunday, November 11, 2007

Homophobic reggaeton: Mr. Fox and the "afeminaos"

A while back, when reggaeton was breaking through as the next big thing in Latino music and before it's bubble burst as many of the top acts failed to build on their initial success, I remember reading an article that said that one of the things that distinguished the raunchy lyrics of reggaeton acts from those of hip-hop and rap was its comparative lack of homophobia.

I'm not a reggaeton music fan so I couldn't say whether this is true or not but when I saw this article in a Panamanian newspaper last week about a performance by Panamanian reggaeton singer Mr. Fox (pictured), it made me do a doubletake.

Franklyn Robinson writing for Critica says:

"Artists have yet to realize the power and influence that they have among their fans and it's not fair that they use it for evil purposes. For example, Mr. Fox, while singing [on the stage], shouted all around that he didn't want homosexuals at the event and that they had to leave. This provoked disorder and a lack of respect for the homosexuals that were present, and who had paid for a ticket to be entertained. We have to remember that many eat off the money that the homosexuals paid."

Doing a search for Mr. Fox online I found out that no one should have been surprised by his homophobic outburst. After all, he released a single called "Afeminaos" ("Effeminate Ones") which he also released as a single.

The lyrics? Well, in the song Mr. Fox calls a rival singer a fag who prostitutes himself to other men in order to sustain a wealthy life instead of earning his money with sweat and effort. Here are a few choice excerpts:

I know that there are lots of rappers
That wear condoms
What does it matter to me if I do it bareback

What are you laughing at, asshole
At my faded pants
What the f*ck - What the f*ck
This is mine, not borrowed
This was worth lots of sweat and lots of work
Throwing bags at the [Panama Canal] like a disgraced one
And you... are well dressed
Thanks to the fags that have f*cked you
Those who have you screwed
They have you mounted
It's noon and you haven't even gotten up

What luck you have, friend
That AIDS has not been detected on you
If in every car I've seen you getting inside the drivers have all been faggots and effeminates
You like anal
Mentally ill you
That's why you sleep with what's his name
I already see your funeral
Or you laying in a hospital... and that's going to be very lethal

Yes, you read right. Mr. Fox thinks he doesn't have to worry about wearing condoms or AIDS just because he doesn't sleep with other men (and promotes the idea in his music). He thinks that gays are mentally ill and seems to believe the worst way to denigrate a rival is to call him homosexual. Nope, no surprise about his onstage antics.

What's interesting is that in other songs, the singer actually riles against drug use and how it has destroyed his neighborhood, the poverty of those he grew up with, corruption in politics and the way other reggaeton singers and rap artists seem to jump over each other to show their wealthy lifestyles in their videos. He actually comes off as extremely charismatic and sincere and in touch with young disaffected black Panamanian men which, of course, makes his homophobic boasts that much more dangerous (he is also unabashedly religious in his music, despite the many guns shown in his videos, so I guess his particular form of rabid homophobia comes from the spread of conservative evangelical ministries that have taken over huge swaths of Central America).

I'm not sure if Mr. Fox is the exception to the rule when it comes to homophobia in reggaeton but let's hope it's not a trend that spreads to other singers.


TS ;) said...

Wow! I just recently began enjoying reggaeton... my brother is always playing it and it became a little catchy for me... but knowing me... like a cold... this too shall pass :) But... Thank you for posting this... I am going to listen carefully to the lyrics because I have to be honest, some of the songs I've heard I just tap along too and haven't truly dissected the content or lyrics. Unreal! And I agree with you 100% that there's inherent danger in hatred wrapped in the charasmatic... will be looking or rather listening closer now. Thanks!

johnnyboyy said...

I love reggae (roots reggae), never liked dancehall, and reggaeton is just dancehall en espanol.