When it comes to music, my first love was Rock en Español. I grew up listening to Maná, Caifanes (actually Jaguares in the 90’s-2000’s), Heroes del Silencio, Cafe Tacvba, Shakira, Alejandra Guzman and so many more. Friday and Saturday nights consisted of listening to Viva and/or Super Estrella–radio stations that no longer exist (in analog form) here in Los Angeles– and dancing to the awesome DJ mixes with my sister. In our defense, we were like 10 and 15 years old. Obviously I still listen to this music today, but now that I’ve become more socially conscious, it bothers me how machista and homophobic the rock en español culture really is.
The history of Latin Rock is very young. I am no expert, but just as many other musical genres, el Rock en Español is a product of oppression. It is a rebellious response to governments and the status quo. I’ve listened to environmental and socially conscious songs that opened my eyes and continue to make me question my surroundings. (For recommendations, I found this list on the OC Weekly.) However, the older I get, the less and less I am able to sing along some of my favorites out of … guilt? Lyrics like “Voy a vengarme de ese m****a” and “Pobre Ana sola se quedó. No le duele tanto eso, Sino que lo niegue el m*****n,” are terrible. When it comes to this topic, it is impossible not to mention Molotov’s “P**o,” which I actually never liked.
I am sure anyone will excuse these artists by saying, “well those were different times back then” or, “that’s the culture.” I get it. We hear this in rap culture as well. So what do we do? I love this music (both genres actually), and hope to one day annoy my children and grandchildren with these songs. But how can I, if some songs promote such hateful and offensive concepts? At this point, whether this offensiveness was intended or not, does not matter. What matters is that homophobia exists around us, and it is perpetuated in the media we consume. Yes I know that is is not news, but today feels like a good day to begin to talk about these things. We ought to raise awareness amongst today’s and future artists. These are–or will be–the people with influence who need to realize that there is an enormous responsibility attached to their power and roles in the world.
I went to a festival last year where the headlining band was Molotov. I remember hearing lead singer ranting about the 45th President. This really got the the crowd pumped (negatively) and it was beginning to get uncomfortable–bear in mind, many of us were drunk and the sound of 45’s name can cause annoyance at the very least. And so, the aforementioned song begins to be played, “P**o.” I had to take a walk at that moment because I hate that word. Seriously, it is like if you would have a huge crowd were screaming “f****t!” at the top of their lungs to offend someone they don’t like. We cannot fight hate with hate, and by demeaning others.
I believe it is a time in which we take responsibility. Artists ought to know that they may be reaching audiences they can’t even imagine. Of course, everyone has artistic freedom and no I am not saying ban this music / lyrics. What I would like is for parents and teachers to have conversations with our children about the media that surrounds them. Yes, I listen to this music and I sometimes sing along, but I am aware that it is wrong and I would never dare to call someone a “m****a” because I don’t like them. I am advocating for a media literate society, where we are not just taking this stuff in but are constantly thinking about it critically for the improvement of our society.