Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mexico: Was Manhunt.net rep racially insensitive?

UPDATE: Manhunt.net's response is here.

NOTE: This is part two of a two part story] Yesterday I told you about how a Argentinean man living in Mexico was able to use an online gay chat-room to lure a man who had drugged and robbed a friend a week earlier and had him arrested by the Mexican police back in July ("Putocop nabs thief who prayed on gay men online").

Well, there is another angle to the story unrelated to the main one and perhaps you will figure it out by comparing at the photo of the Argentinian hero, Fernando Gabriel Vega (above), and the captured assailant, Agustín Javier Vidal Dionicio (below).

Here is the thing: The part I left out from the La Reforma article I quoted on Sunday was that they reached out to the Mexican representative of Manhunt.net to flesh out information about gay online social sites. Turns out they have a spokesperson based in Mexico named Javier Spinozza and here is what he said in defending such sites:

"More than simply bedding someone and 'If I see you I won't remember,' gays use chats to have a 'freebie,' what is called 'sex friends'" (hm, reminds me of the recent 'I touch and I leave' sex craze in Argentina).

Hm, OK. So far so good. I guess? But when asked why some would use images online that might show themselves looking better than in real life (Dionicio didn't even show his face on his gay.com profile and Vega was able to entice him by sending images from his own gay.com profile), Spinozza says:

"More than anything it's because here in Mexico we are not a country with an Aryan race; there are many mutants, girlfriend, so, if they don't send you a photo, be weary!"

Aryan race? Mutants? Girlfriend? Oh my!

At least one Mexican LGBT-rights activist is up in arms: In a long-ass 'Open Letter to Manhunt.net' sent to several online networks in mid-September, media watchdog Sergio Alan Villarreal spends too much time writing about the virtues of gay online social sites, congratulating the young Spinozza for being chosen as Manhunt.com's Mexican spokesperson, and thanking him for their corporate support for this year's first ever International March Against Stigma, Discrimination and Homophobia.

And then he gets to the nitty-gritty:

"In Mexico, as in many other Latin American countries, we carry the heavy burden of cultural colonialism which persists through publicity messaging which are transmitted in a general manner through a few influential communication media, as well as through movies, television programs - of local and foreign origin - and printed press of all forms."

Hm. OK, I guess that's not 'getting' to the nitty-gritty in one fell swoop. He goes on and on. And on. But then he gets to the nitty-gritty?

"To affirm that 'in Mexico we are not a country of an Aryan race' and that 'there are many mutants' here while making a reference to beautiful people in the Manhunt.net context is not precisely a measure of social sensibility or of slight courtesy of those who are an important part of your meta market. For this reason I request in a friendly and respectful manner that you reconsider your attitude with respect to these issues, considering that these kind of expressions are understandable in the cultural surrounding that we have inherited but before which it is urgent to revisit and transcend in their more significant paradigms."

OMG. Sorry. I have to take a breather.

But I'll make it easier for him: A Manhunt.net representative in Mexico (of all places) arguing that the reason that fewer Mexicans show their true face on the site is because the Aryan race is not predominant in the country - and then calling most Mexicans "mutants?" - Yikes!! I just got the vapors!

Racial dynamics on these sites are sometimes charged with baggage but don't ya think these statements are a tad across the line?


Eva Cuarse said...

OMG! What are these insensibilities? WTF! Sad Sad Sad!

Osvaldo Del Valle said...

This spokesperson obviously doesn't have issue with blaquimiento and also doesn't see Mexican persons of non-euro descendancy as beautiful people in their own right. Yes, he was over the line.