Thursday, November 6, 2008

DISSING TO BE CLEVER

This morning I was walking down Avenida Santa Fe on my way to the gym in my usual somnambulistic state when something suddenly jolted me to life. The wake-up bomb? A picture of Barack Obama on the front page of Crítica de la Argentina (see left) and the bold-type headline: "MARTES NEGRO" (translation: Black Tuesday).

Say what?

Of course, it's a reference to yesterday's not-so-shocking victory by Barack Obama, who in January will become the first black president--and 44th overall--of the United States of America. If you look past the unfortunate fact that the headline inadvertently links this happy, historic moment to September 16, 1992 (aka "Black Wednesday"), a disastrous day for the British economy, it's mildly clever. But can you imagine such a headline getting past the editors of any major mainstream U.S. publication?

It reminds me of my comment several posts ago when I noted that something offensive and derogatory in one language can have a completely different effect in the context of a different language or uttered with a foreign accent. And because Argentina doesn't have the legacy of racism against black people that the U.S. does (though, to be sure, racism is alive and well here), passersby see the headline, grin and bear it. That said, the inside hed--"La magia negra va a la Casa Blanca" or Black magic goes to the White House--is cringe-inducing in any language.

I, however, was so surprised by "MARTES NEGRO" that I had to find a nice shaded spot to scribble this post in my notebook. Am I angry? No. Offended? Not even slightly. Whatever hack wrote those headlines and whoever approved them probably didn't realize that the appeal would be lost in translation. Plus I'm too elated right now to let a lazy, misguided stab at cleverness bring me down.

Black Tuesday? Puhleeze! Let's color yesterday red-hot.
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