fulana workshop at yale
Flip It! A Fulana Workshop on Parody and Satire


October 1, 2007
Photos by Eddie Martinez

Flip It! A Fulana Workshop on Parody and Satire

Yale's MEChA chapter invited us to do a workshop with them to kick off their Semana Chicana. After a fun and generative introduction, we showed our videos as well as other artists' work, and then opened a discussion with the students about what's been bothering them about their experiences as Latinos at Yale. We asked them to think of something that was pissing them off and think of ways to "flip it", taking the existing form, appropriating it, and spitting it back out in a way that exposes the underlying messages.

They were hilarious, smart, and fast -- the main issue on their mind (among many others) was the skewed perception of Latinos on campus, as if ethnicity and/or the need for financial aid is "the only reason" they're at Yale ("What did you do to earn admission?" "Do you deserve to be here?", etc.) Many of them had experienced blatant racism, for instance, not being allowed into dorm rooms or campus buildings by guards who believed they either didn't really go to Yale, or were part of the cleaning staff. (The "Consuela" effect.) To top it off, The Yale Record, a Lampoon-style humor publication, had just published with a parody of the Blue Book (the course listing), which many of them thought *missed* the satire, didn't challenge stereotypes at all, but were rather comfortable with them, gratuitously.

This was The Yale Record's "parodical" description of the "SPANISH AND FRENCH" department, for example:

The major in Spanish/French offers a wide selection of courses in the languages and cultures of the spancophonic/frenchophonic world. A standard program of study begins with an introductory course in grammar/scorn and culminates with a year-long independent research project in ¡Salsa!/hateful, seething scorn. Students enrolled in the major will receive linguistic training/croissants for all four years and be expected to demonstrate general awareness of the fact that Bulldog Burrito/J. Roget is Spanish/French for "bulldog-filled tortilla"/"Let's go burn a car" by the end of their sophomore year. Those who complete the major successfully should be able to pronounce the name of the roguishly handsome groundskeeper who helps Mother with her exercises/get assaulted on an American city street of his or her choice. Those who complete it even more successfully will have learned to love like an Iberian/sex offender. Ole!/L'Ole!

This is a "course" under WOMEN'S, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY STUDIES -- preemptively (conveniently!) discrediting any voices of dissent:

Why Everything is Offensive
Mae Triarchy.
TTh 1-2:15 III(55)
A survey of all the major works of modern literature, architecture, and art, and why they are all deeply offensive from a feminist perspective. In class, students will nitpick every possible detail of these great works of intellect, in hopes of exposing some minor bias that they can use to disregard the entire work. Readings and materials include any book you've ever enjoyed, any building that is not distinctly in the shape of a vagina, and all works of art that employ color. Or don't employ color: Those are offensive as well.

When Latino students or women complain, they're often confronted with: "What? You can't take a joke? Lighten up!" The students in our workshop felt the offense in their gut, and the discussion was good to bring it up to the brain and break down *why* they felt this way. So they're planning to respond with a "joke" of their own this time. We're staying in touch with them through the week to see how their performance next weekend will go (they're collaborating with another group that will be throwing a "Lawn Party" [à la Billionaires for Bush] to protest cuts in financial aid, despite an endowment that just grew by 3 billion dollars).

We look forward to seeing the works of parody/satire that these students who are "in Yale" ("están en Jail?!") will come up with during the week!
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