Is An Illegal
Maggie Van Ostrand
Humor and Satire in the Corrido
are lining up on the south side of the Rio Grande and North Americans
are lining up on the north side, each group of citizens looking for
something from the other. For the North Americans, it's a keep-out
mindset and, for the Mexicans, it's a let-us-in mindset. If you ask
me, they are all in dire need of a humorous corrido.
A corrido is
a song of experience which captures the spirit of certain historical
events. Everything which moves, disturbs, or affects the common
spirit, everything which influences the lives of the masses, everything
which produces unforgettable commotion or excitement, is fodder
for the corrido.
In other words, any happening of general public interest calls for
of the corrido are called corridistas.
is enjoyed and produced throughout Mexico, the American Southwest,
and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Corridos are heard
from Chicago to Chiapas to Cordoba, with two regions contributing
more than others to the folklorization of the corrido -- Michoacán,
Jalisco, and Guanajuato, and along the border of Northern Mexico
and the American Southwest.
us that immigration is first and foremost a personal and emotional
experience affecting the individual spirit and the collective sentiment
of the community. Many corridistas have experienced immigration
of undocumented workers has soared in recent years and this has
become a major theme of contemporary corridistas. Corridos focusing
on illegal immigration have been appearing on Mexican radio and
Spanish-language radio in the U.S. annually for over 35 years.
an example of corrido humor:
"Superman Is An Illegal"
It's a bird.
It's a plane.
No, it's a wetback.
1. He arrived by air, but not in an airplane
He came in his ship all the way from Krypton
and it appears that he is not an American.
Rather, he is just like me, undocumented.
2. So you see, Border Patrol, he shouldn't work
because even though it hurts, Superman is an illegal alien.
He's a journalist, well so am I
and he didn't go into the Army, oh what a deal.
3. And he is blonde, blue-eyed, and well-built
and I'm dark, chubby, and very short.
But at least I have already marched (in the military)
with the smuggler I had to pay when I crossed (the border).
4. He didn't comply with military service,
he doesn't pay taxes and he acts like a judge.
He doesn't have a green card nor a license to fly,
and I bet he doesn't even have a social security card.
5. We have to deport Superman from this region
and if possible return him to Krypton.
Where are the immigration authorities when you need them?
What's new, Mr. Racism, in the nation?
you're not laughing yet? Maybe the next one will get you.
There's the corrido about a young man named Natalio Reyes Colás who
emigrates to the United States from Mexico and experiences culture
shock in the form of food, music, language, and sex roles. Colás meets
a Mexican-American girl who wants him to assimilate as she has done.
She changes his name from Natalio to "Nat," from Reyes to "King,"
and Colás to "Cole," and he becomes Nat King Cole. At this point,
the music changes from a corrido to the romantic "Love is a Many Splendored
Thing, as Colás sings the lyrics impersonating Nat King Cole.
Trust me, it's funny.
It's difficult for a Mexican to assimilate into the North American
culture, but it's much worse for a North American to assimilate into
the Mexican culture, since learning to relax is much harder than making
Let's take a cue from the corridistas and handle immigration with
humor by eliminating two words from our languages: wetbacks and greenbacks.
It's a start.