Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture

Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture

Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture

Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture

Synopsis

Boricua Pop is the first book solely devoted to Puerto Rican visibility, cultural impact, and identity formation in the U. S. and at home. Frances Negrón-Muntaner explores everything from the beloved American musical West Side Story to the phenomenon of singer/actress/ fashion designer Jennifer Lopez, from the faux historical chronicle Seva to the creation of Puerto Rican Barbie, from novelist Rosario Ferré to performer Holly Woodlawn, and from painter provocateur Andy Warhol to the seemingly overnight success story of Ricky Martin. Negrón-Muntaner traces some of the many possible itineraries of exchange between American and Puerto Rican cultures, including the commodification of Puerto Rican cultural practices such as voguing, graffiti, and the Latinization of pop music. Drawing from literature, film, painting, and popular culture, and including both the normative and the odd, the canonized authors and the misfits, the island and its diaspora, Boricua Pop is a fascinating blend of low life and high culture: a highly original, challenging, and lucid new work by one of our most talented cultural critics.

Excerpt

What do you consider most humane? To spare someone shame.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

“There has never been,” wrote the columnist Taki Theodoracopulos in the London-based journal the Spectator, “—nor will there ever be—a single positive contribution by a Puerto Rican outside of receiving American welfare and beating the system.” Deeply disgusted by the “fat, squat, ugly, dusky, dirty and unbelievably loud” people who disrupted his bagel breakfast during the 1997 National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Taki Tacky—as some Nuyorican intellectuals called him —further declared that “Puerto Rican pride” was an oxymoron, only comparable with that of the city's other “ghastly” community: gays.

Taki is of course mistaken in his historical analysis; Puerto Ricans have been a major force in the creation of significant cultural practices (“positive” or not), including U.S.–born ones such as salsa, hip hop, and Nuyorican poetry, and have been prominent participants in important social struggles against racial discrimination, police brutality, and educational segregation. But he is right about one thing: Puerto Ricans make a lot of “noise.”

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