|Written by Gustavo Prado|
“I don’t blame the night. “I don’t blame the beach. I don’t blame the rain, because they all love me.”
Aesthetic nightmare: Luis Miguel as an icon (a Mexican idol: think of Michael Bublé less the voice, the talent, the charisma and the looks… plus an eternal stupid expression). A world where his values, image, voice projection, language, intonation and attitudes are multiplied like a cloning pattern. Where the exclusive is exclusion and social class is just the goal of any social climber with enough guts and speed to climb by using tags, signs and badges…
The ‘Dictionnaire du look,' published in France in 2009, provides a taxonomy of all kinds of urban tribes.1 From ultra-conservative, convent-educated girls he calls "Marie Chantal" to fashionable hipsters, fluo kids and tektonic, to what we would call "fresas" in Mexico (according to www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresa, quite literally sort of less likeable preppy).
They are called “Nappy,” an abbreviation of "Neuilly-Auteuil-Pereire-Passy," the parisian districts they frequent. Kids with too much money and too little to do are a phenomenon that has elicited at least one documentary, “Gilded Youth”, and a bad reputation for being not the best part of the BCBG (Bon chic Bon Genre), who regard them as dilettantes, flanneurs’ lousy second part, and spendthrifts spending their time doing drugs under the sun, full of laziness, and famous for not being ‘the sharpest knife in the drawer’.
Their uniform is brand- clothing, particularly the Polo shirts, the ‘Lacoste’ and the yacht decks-topsiders, here used just for ‘walkin’ on sunshine’.
They are not alone…the same book classifies a parallel philium, the one named:
The “Sunset Beach” whose deep V-necks reveal a fried skin tone born of long hours in the UV roasters, worthy of Julio Iglesias in the 70s or the orange-old leather sofa look and texture of Valentino, the fashion designer. Priest of the sun, they live not of, but being in unexplainable professions –pseudo DJ, pseudo PR, ‘Rum & coca cola’ mixer, connoisseurs of everything, specialists in nothing.
In America, that same aesthetics and type of boy with exactly the same values, is given the compound name -a melting pot, so to speak- of WASP/YUPPIE/PREPPY and is more likely to be found on a cover of Abercrombie & Fitch than in the Ivy League.
Believe it or not, in Mexico, not only nowadays but for some decades now, the phenomenon of this type of kid has already emerged several times, the most recent of which is an Internet meme: the "Mirrey!”
To really understand the phenomenon in its deep complexity is necessary going into an archaeological survey of the term in Mexico’s recent history:
1st bouncer: culture
‘the depiction of unbearable people’
Beach scene, where cocktail figures dressed in white, gaze at us from the height of their social circle. One of the men gives us a so-called "sexy" look: a middle-aged gentlemen and his statements make us feel we are witnessing the "obnoxious coquette":
- they ask him, “What's your name?
- he replies: I have five names, two surnames, three nicknames, two pen-names, two alter egos and a variety of AK’s SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF FLIRTING. I will keep these secret, so I can use them at my discretion.
in other words, the man's a sybarite and all those names must be a succession of hereditary titles...
-Guilty pleasure? they ask
Why just one? All my pleasures are slightly guilty, from the failed desire to wear your clothes, became someone I am not and never will be; being who you pretend to be when you put on my clothes to be who you are not; hold hands under the table, take off my shoe and put my toes into your fly which you purposely unzipped, your eyes staring into mine with the pretext of a face to face toast...
…[ the failed desire to wear your clothes,
So far: the "duck face" :3, halfway between sexy and inviting, the look, the beach, would not be strange... Until we find that this image comes from the early 21st century, when there were no blogs, and people did not publicly exhibit their intimacy. The image was not isolated, companions in attitude and lifestyle look like this:
or even this-in vintage clothing-
The ‘oh so hateful’ poses and stands in the interviews -press a button so that each shot will open up in its full glory...is justified by...? the fact that these characters are not spoilt rich kids but actually the finest examples of Mexican culture???!!!
-Gabriel Orozco, Miguel Calderón and his ‘Daddy’, Santamarina, Eugenio López, and the gallery owners’ of OMR, and Kurimanzutto.... and even the collector Eugenio López…
In the skit where this all appeared, a notebook published by what was then the trendiest magazine in the Mexican artistic milieu, a magazine so called “Celeste” also was depicted such unlikely characters as Rodrigo Peñafiel, Vergara the owner of the “Las Chivas” football team, along the inexplicable presence of short-lived government officials from the cultural milieu, not so handsome, with far less style, lot less chic and wearing cheaper clothes.
I’m The King of the World!
‘the depiction of unbearable…’
In an image overlooking the city, two poor rich kids pose in a tableau vivant, re-enacting, with grace and Apollonian elegance, the creation scene in the Sistine chapel:
Oddly enough, an iconographic analysis of this image reveals a disturbing echo:
In the early 21st century, the “Rich and Famous” project emerged in the midst of a political and media scandal since it was a portfolio that revealed the intimate life of the Mexican political animal –or his cubs- in its natural environment –kitsch.
When the work was presented as a book, the exhibition was unthinkable in such an adverse climate. The event was not held in a cultural center but in an apartment block in Polanco, the kind that has its own party room, and the type of opinions given by the panelists were unique: instead of praising it, they said that the Mexican photography's role had been until the moment to present scandalous poverty and that now was the time to "present scandalous wealth."
Proceso, the country's most prestigious political weekly journal devoted its cover to it- and in the article, it provided a detailed account of the connections between those portrayed in the book and the country's industrial and political elite. The book begins with a warning:
the following images show actual scenes.
In a critical note, Guillermo Tovar y de Teresa remarks: -just as cuckolds are the last to find out about their condition as such, those who engage in kitsch are not aware that they do so, because what makes you aware of kitsch is culture and what they sell in this book is a caricature of the moneyed class and its relationship with culture2. On the day of the presentation, the author decided to hire an actress to play her, thank people and give explanations while she –the real author- acted like an ordinary staff member, organizing everything and directing the event without anyone aware of her identity...
... [He who dies with the most toys, wins]...
3rd. BOUNCER: CIVIL SOCIETY
‘THE DEPICTION OF ...PEOPLE'
On 3 March 2011, a project that began as a simple chat between friends but went on to achieve an unexpected scope, was uploaded. With nearly 37,000 followers on Twitter and approximately two thousand photos, www.mirrreybook.tumblr.com, is a project that may have taken up the spirit of the previous projects:
-presenting a Mexican, jet-setting lifestyle, which has globalized values and shamelessly, with no need to give explanations, experiences the privileges of money in excess fruit of honest work, or perhaps not; "business" acumen, as we call it here in Mexico. They have the know-how acquired at the private universities up and down the country that have trained businessmen who, without expecting government hand-outs, have managed to created "dignified, decent, exemplary lives."
Unlike the former, which are outsiders’ perspectives and constructions, here the protagonists are exhibited by their friends who choose images tagged on Facebook, images that they find amusing and recognizing themselves in them, they upload it with a photo caption that stresses their "Little Lord Faunterloy” attitude here or “lobuki queen” attitude there. -love-lobster=lobuki- (lost in translation)
The aspirational universe for those that view them from the outside, upper middle class for those that experience it from within, experience the profound contrast of not being images of either intellectuals, curators on the road to social ascent or of the politician surprised in his intimacy by the wickedness of constructed documentary photos.
In a graph, the three cases are exemplified in these phrases:
1. ‘we’ve arrived’’ The ‘intellectuals’
2. Look, look: They've got bad taste!!! …looking at the politicians…
3. ... You talkin' to me?? … ‘the kiddies looking at us…
The spoilt rich kid, the hipster rich kid, over and over again, from “pirruris (a well-known Mexican comedian’s version of ‘fresas´") to juniors, are the perspective that identifies social difference and tries to make a joke of it. For the time being, mirreyes are innocent children: They do not belong to the political families in "Rich and Famous" or at least, not all of them, nor are they the cultural social climbers of the previous decade-in any way.
They are the perspective of the other Mexico, that does not realize the political need to take culture to the ladies in Polanco or to create nationalistic identities in Interlomas –two of the many rich zones in Mexico City.
In the mirrey version, the situation is quite the reverse: they are not cultured, they never wanted to be-and what a relief! Reading makes you so ugly! They don’t have any conflicts -that's their privilege.
And all the critical perspectives who say that it is actually a "Wannabe" social network are wrong in the sense that those images were only made for internal consumption:
PD: given the success of the page, there are already various spin-offs:
www.mirrreybooktheoutlet.tumblr.com where those who have not achieved the true mirrey go
www.mirrreynabook.tumblr.com where the lobukis go, although less artfully
http://rrregaybook.tumblr.com/ the ‘alternative’ version...