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Tracing the historical trajectory of the pocho (Latinos who are influenced by Anglo culture) in pop culture, Medina shows how the trope of pocho/pocha/poch@, which traditionally signified the negative connotation of "cultural traitor" in Spanish, has been reclaimed through the pop cultural productions of Latinos who self-identify as poch@.



1. A Poch@ Pop Preface: Si se puede

Chapter 1 introduces poch@ as the growing Latin@ audience in the U.S. and those pop culture artists who reflect their experiences. Autobiographical material about the author illuminates intersections among popular culture, humor, and political and social realities. The trope of pocho, pocha, or poch@ reemerges as a self-identifier for Latin@ pop culture producers who respond and resist rhetoric framing Latin@s as deficient.
Cruz Medina

2. Proto-Poch@ Representations in Film: Exploitation or Bust

Chapter 2 examines the positive representations of proto-poch@pop artists Ritchie Valens and Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, framed in a discussion of poch@ pop filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. This chapter focuses on proto-poch@ films La Bamba and Selena because they represent the lives and music of poch@s in the U.S. who are English-dominant and achieve mainstream acceptance, while performing Spanish-language music. This examination of proto-poch@ films sets the foundation for further discussion of the poch@ trope and identity that challenge negative portrayals in mainstream representations of Latin@ language and culture.
Cruz Medina

3. Poch@ Methodological (Re)appropriation for Resistance: Poch@ Past

Chapter3 outlines the theoretical and methodological framework that explains the resistance to colonial narratives that subjugate Latin@s in the U.S. Poch@ artists (re)appropriate rhetoric and symbols that frame Latin@s as culturally deficient according to colonial standards. Emma Pérez’s theory of the decolonial imaginary provides a framework for how artist reveal the possibilities for resistance outside of dominant colonial narratives. In addition, the rascuache methodology that Guillermo Gómez-Peña identifies reveals how the use of the pejorative term “pocho” serves as an appropriation that challenges deficiency-based colonial narratives. Gómez-Peña resists deficit rhetoric by re-claiming the trope of poch@ and by challenging the outdated colonial binary paradigm, evidenced by the naming of his troupe La Pocha Nostra and a character Pocho-Dos.
Cruz Medina

4. Alcaraz and Madrigal: Re-appropriating Poch@ for Resistance: A Time and Place for Poch@ Pop

In Chapter 4, I discuss the mainstream integration of poch@s such as Al Madrigal on the Daily Show to contest discourse about Latin@s. This chapter then focuses on selected political cartoons of Lalo Alcaraz. These pop culture producers subvert dominant colonial narratives that tokenize people of color in the media or exoticize people of color in political rhetoric. Further, this chapter specifically looks at how the art of’s Lalo Alacaraz resists cultural deficit rhetoric by challenging policy portraying all Latin@s as potentially “illegal” (SB 1070), and racist in their education (HB 2281). Alcaraz’s art demonstrates the kinds of subversive messages that appeal to the growing population of cultural producers and consumers.
Cruz Medina

5. Poch@teca: Re-understanding the Historical Trajectory of a Proto-Chican@ Identity

Chapter 5 traces the etymological connection between poch@ and pochteca by examining the traveling merchant role of the pochteca that crossed territories and spoke in the tongue of the foreign territory. The historical origin of poch@ outlines a salient re-understanding that provides context for the contemporary reclamation by poch@ pop artists. As the site of analysis, Gómez-Peña’s collaborative Codex Espangliensis provides a generative demonstration of how the integration of historical tropes resists colonial rhetoric about Latin@s in popular culture, drawing on Mesoamerican literacy practices. The visually-oriented text brings the conversation full circle by looking at comic-like representations that critically juxtapose mainstream pop culture icons like Mickey Mouse with images from the Conquest of the Americas.
Cruz Medina

6. Poch@s Strike Back: Ozomatli Members Respond to Pop Culture Commentary

Chapter 6 is a pop culture artists-speak-back interview with two of the founding members of the hip-hop cumbia fusion group Ozomatli, Raul Pacheco and Ulisses Bella. This chapter includes questions that address rhetorical aspects of composing, working within hegemonic systems, and socially-conscious decision-making. The poch@ artists respond to and discuss expectations of audiences and labels, as well as their role as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. government.
Cruz Medina


To return back to my personal experiences with pop culture, I think of Sherman Alexie’s essay titled “I Hated Tonto (Still Do)” that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.1 After reading this essay about Alexie hating the monosyllabic Tonto figure on screen that looked like him, I ruminated on my own pop culture personification, A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell (1989–1993). Granted, Slater did not help the Anglo character Zack Morris hunt down Latin@ banditos; however, Slater’s character still played the side-kick, and at times rival, jock who wasn’t as smart (read: tonto) as Morris. The mocha-skinned actor, Mario Lopez, was always the first character to dance or issue a physical threat, all the while performing some kind of quasi-machismo by calling female characters “mama.” Though less racist than Tonto, I resented Lopez’s A.C. Slater even though the character learned in Saved By the Bell: The College Years (1993–1994) that his father had changed the family name from Sanchez to avoid discrimination when he joined the military. Too little, too late.
Cruz Medina


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