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Old 10-26-2005
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Default The commercialization of Dia de los Muertos

Even though it's opinion, I like how he ended with an Octavio Paz (favorite political culture poet who I am named after.) quote.

http://www.statepress.com/issues/200...pinions/694551

Martori: The commercialization of Dia de los Muertos
by Arthur Martori published on Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Arthur Martori
COLUMNIST
Arthur Martori
COLUMNIST


Nobody celebrates Cinco de Mayo in the Valley. If a word need be assigned to describe the festivities wrapped around the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, the term "appropriation" applies more readily.

Appropriation is described by Michelle Martinez as "when somebody comes and takes over something else, and re-territorializes it for their own benefit, whether or not they know anything about it."

Martinez is a professor with ASU's Chicana and Chicano Studies Department and curator for "Room for the Dead," an exhibit of Dia de los Muertos art at the ASU Museum of Anthropology.

So much of the culture we celebrate these days, then, is appropriated rather than appreciated. To use Cinco de Mayo as an example, taking the day off work to pound Coronas in the afternoon is a benefit that is appropriated through participation in Hispanic culture.

As Dia de los Muertos draws near, event listings for the Valley would indicate that it is catching on in mainstream culture. While many Day of the Dead activities are free, its not uncommon for galleries and imports stores to charge upwards of $20 for a workshop where people create their own sugar skulls and decorative crosses.

"People will find ways to make money on anything," Martinez said. "But ultimately, it takes a person feeling something and giving something to create an altar."

Thus, Dia de los Muertos merges with the mainstream, borne on the back of the omnipotent dollar. It would seem as if this reflective occasion is in danger of being adopted by the same people that brought us the day of "Mexican independence" in May.

Imagine... "Live from Panama Beach, it's MTV's Dia de los Muertos throw-down!"

But Martinez doesn't think that this will be the fate of Dia de los Muertos.

"People don't know [Cinco de Mayo] is the celebration of the Battle of Puebla," she said. "It's a ploy to market something and to party. But with the Day of the Dead, you ask people what that is and they usually know."

Sure, they might. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the celebration will always be undertaken with the spirit that was intended, right? I mean, look at Christmas. When did the fat guy in the red suit sneak into a holiday that has roots in Christianity? Which passage in the Bible talks about layaway?

Again, Martinez exhibits what might be too much faith in humanity.

"I don't think that's possible for something like Day of the Dead," she said. "I don't think that the motives of most people going into build an altar are appropriation. It's much more spiritual than that."

She said that it's not a bad thing that people pay to participate in another culture, and she's right. Consider a scenario where it became the next cool thing to pick up trash on the streets.

There might be a few crafty folk that used the shift in public sentiment to make a quick buck, selling stylized bags for collecting rubbish and decorative trash stabber-things. The end result, however, would be less garbage lying around - a good thing.

Martinez gave a similar description of participation in Dia de los Muertos.

"That may provide a comfortable scenario for somebody that's not Hispanic, and completely foreign and new to something," she said. "That might be a comfortable place.

"If that's comfortable for them, and they're still learning about [Day of the Dead], at least they're getting it. It's not destructive in any way."

The Americanization of Dia de los Muertos is an example of a positive side effect of a consumer society. Sure, we're the same group of people responsible for the popularity of the Macarena and Menudo. But when you take as many blind shots from the hip as we do, you're bound to hit something eventually.

"People are looking for something," Martinez said. "There are so many unanswered questions about natural disaster, about terrorism, about war. It's a place where we can come together, quiet our minds and celebrate the people that we have loved."

She referenced a quote by Mexican poet and diplomat Octavio Paz that nicely summarized an attitude toward death from which mainstream American society would profit:

"The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and his steadfast love. True, there is perhaps as much fear in his attitude as in the others, but at least death is not hidden away."
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Old 10-26-2005
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i agree wit cha ppl take abvantage of any festivity to
make money...
and wud is even worst the ppl who go on partying
and do the whole desmadre dont even know wud they celebrating!!!
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Old 10-26-2005
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Makes no difference to me. I dont celebrate this holiday.
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Old 10-26-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoolArrow
Makes no difference to me. I dont celebrate this holiday.
Thats why you're so cool.

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Old 10-26-2005
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Calamani,

SHouldnt you be working on your paper mache mask right about now?
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Old 10-26-2005
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This has been going on every year at Olvera Street since I can remember.
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Old 10-26-2005
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Since the late 70's?
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Old 10-26-2005
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the guys who sing Macarena were MExican?
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Old 10-27-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiSS_DEE
the guys who sing Macarena were MExican?
No, but you know how society just merged us together.
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Old 10-27-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiSS_DEE
the guys who sing Macarena were MExican?
didn't you know? according to el gringo, anybody who speaks spanish is "mexican"


-----
anyways, I do understand how this holiday is just an excuse for people to make money but there are plenty of us who take this holiday seriously and celebrate it for what it is.

But nothing can compare to how they celebrate it in Mexico.
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Old 10-27-2005
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^(to the two of you) I know....how sad.
On el Dia de los Muertos, I never got educated about it but i have heard of it. I should be looking into it.
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Old 10-27-2005
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The best type of education is participation.
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Old 11-02-2015
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Default Re: The commercialization of Dia de los Muertos

bump
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