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The cannibalistic as an anti-capitalist method

Ana Sánchez-Reig

Ana Sanchez-Reig, a Literature and Creative Writing (LEC) student, puts the
test Western pop culture: the commercial fast-food of spectacle has come to parasitize our peoples' culture.
to parasitize the culture of our peoples.

The cannibalistic as an anti-capitalist method

Rosalía is doing it big. Since her awards and performances on MTV, and her overwhelming appearance at the Latin Grammys, it seems that the girl just keeps going up. So much so, it seems, that she has even gotten a little too high. 

In the United States they are now livin' with her, more so now that she is bff with Kylie Jenner and spends (prior to the end of the world) her life at home, while here we are divided into two fronts so belligerent that they almost seem like the defenders and detractors of the latest Star Wars movie. Then there are those who pass on topic, of course, but really, what a bunch of people. 

This has led me to a small, but strong obsession. And it is the "why". Yes, why do these subject artists succeed, these local but global versions of cultural products. These products, which, at first glance, and if you don't look at them for a long time, seem really "cool". 

Let's first do a quick field study of what it means to be cañí. In the RAE we find it defined as "belonging to or of the gypsy race". We could understand it as a cultural product consumed by a specific group , if we bring it to the case. So those who will understand the work better will be those who share experiences. For example: someone who has lived with El Cigala playing on the radio at home, dancing flamenco at his cousin's birthday party, will better understand the referentiality and will enjoy recognizing himself in the song. A payo, perhaps not so much. 

This does not detract from the fact that, even so, there are products called "glocal". Palatable versions of a different society, adapted to the tastes of the unfamiliar. This fantasy of culture, distant but understandable, a globalized orientalism, which idealizes those cultures it pretends to understand. Like Asian restaurants in the West. Like going to Prague for a weekend and shopping at H&M. It's a kind of cultural import, and it's not new. We didn't invent it either.

The United States is the king of cultural importation. Being a culture founded on immigration, the nation relies on icons created from foreign traditions, see Santa Claus. Their country has been built on "glocalisms". It is so prominent that it was their sociologists who coined and politicized the concept of "cultural appropriation" (James O. Young).


"Jumping forn Nafarreria fountain in San Fermin, Iruñea", 2007 (fragment)
. Source

It is a culture fascinated by others, including Spain. You only have to review history: Hemingway portrayed the Sanfermines and catapulted them to the global market, and now even Australians come to jump from the fountains. Or the chefs who have recreated tapas from Navarre so that now paellas with chorizo sprout in the aisles of Wallmart. Without going any further, you have to see the laughs in the last comedy of Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise(Night and Day), in which they were involved in a running of the bulls through the streets of Cadiz. Or the cannibal bulls in Criminal Minds: Without Borders

We can then understand the new fascination of the "gringos" with Rosalía.

On the other hand, let's take a look at our beloved Spain. We, believe it or not, are consumers of imports, but also in a big way. Our billboards are full of English words, actors with names that are difficult to pronounce and unknown landscapes. We are surprised when the main character is called Juan and lives in Vallecas. The success of Paquita Salas proves it. 

But, serendipities aside, we must not forget our wonderful mantra of "Spanish cinema sucks". We are fascinated, from time to time, by the "choriceras" movies, but in our imagination, the good movies are the ones with Scarlett Johansson. Although we are thirsty to see ourselves reflected on the screen, we fantasize in dubbing voice

Traveling fantasies have a mermaid's charm,
but we must not forget that under the waters we will not find understanding, but the hand of the market.
understanding, but the hand of the market.

The fact is that the film market is completely dominated by Hollywood. The ability to colonize the entire global market makes local productions lose luster, they are dwarfed by the festival of light and technicolor that is the American production average . We are consumers of foreign cinema, foreign music and, in general, foreign art. 

What does this mean? That our palate is not so accustomed to the "cañí" either. Manufacturing culture is expensive, and if it is only going to be consumed by a small audience, it is not very profitable. For this reason, distribution tends to be immobile, and to bet on what works, to take risks from time to time.

Rosalía has married these two worlds. El Mal Querer is a flamenco fusion with pop, rap and trap, bringing some freshness to a genre that tends to repeat itself. It is not something exclusive to her, many other artists have done it before, but she has been the one who has had the greatest international projection. With the leap she made to reggaeton and later to American indie with James Bay, it seems that she has already conquered the Americas.

It is true that in this leap there is a certain ungenuine air. With success usually comes commercialization, and with that, a greater separation from the "aura" that dazzled us in the beginning. This phenomenon was already described at the time by Walter Benjamin, one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. 

"[...] mechanical reproduction takes the reproduced object out of the realm of tradition. By multiplying the copies,
the unique presence is replaced by massive presence. And reproduction, by being able to adapt to the situations of the receiver, multiplies the presence of the reproduction.
situations of the receiver, multiplies the presence of the reproduction".

He never lived the internet and the broadcasting capacity of today. He wrote with photography and film in mind, but we can certainly draw a parallel to today. Mass production often tries to appeal to the widest possible audience, so it rarely feels staff. Rosalía quickly adapted to the U.S. market, rubbing shoulders with its show business and "glocalizing" herself. 

Let's take another example: Carmen Amaya is adored in my town. The gypsy dancer had a house there, and she was in love with the Costa Brava. For those who do not know, this woman had a lot of duende and is one of the best known dancers in the world. She was known in Spain, but she established herself as a flamenco icon once she made the leap to the United States. She appeared in numerous Hollywood movies, a article was dedicated to her in Life magazine and it is even said that President Roosevelt was dazzled by her art.

But the Americans, when they consecrated her, did not know what was coming. She accepted to do the Americas, yes, but accompanied by her whole family. And it is well known that she made a mess in one of the most iconic hotels in New York. During one of her strolls through the avenues of New York, the wench bought two or three kilos of sardines. She then returned to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and, without hesitation, loaded the two bedside tables, put a stove on the bed base, and fried the sardines with her cousins. They transformed one of the most expensive and posh hotels in the city into the ViñaRock campsite in average hour, easy. It is said that the whole building was filled with the smell of fish, and that it caused a great impression among the posh clientele of the hotel. This anecdote was immortalized by Eduardo Arroyo, a painter linked to pop art, who died last year, in his famous work "Carmen Amaya fries sardines at the Waldorf Astoria" (1988).

This act perfectly encapsulates the regurgitation that makes the "cañí" of bourgeois art. Carmen Amaya eluded schools, currents, teachings and categorizations, on stage she gave off an unbridled freedom that bled from her life, and the pretension of compartmentalizing it in the commercialization was a laughable idea. 

In this we see that staying true to oneself is necessarily linked to staying within one's environment. The idiosyncratic repels commercial reproduction, and we must remain in search of our own art. Traveling fantasies have a mermaid's charm, but we must not forget that under the waters we will not find understanding, but the hand of the market. 

That's why I want to close with a folkloric recommendation: Rodrigo Cuevas is a musician, composer, singer and scholar of different regional styles who does a bit what Rosalía did, but in Galician. And what can I say, I have a weakness for Galicia, so I can't help but like him. It is a little bit the icon of this article. 

But do not stay only with Rodrigo. Search, today there are means. It is necessary, in a world full of hydroflasks, to rediscover the botijo.



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