Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rant #45: I Love Lucy Quote Riles Some Hispanics

Yesterday, at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) reference to television character Ricky Ricardo from the classic "I Love Lucy" TV show elicited some harsh comments from some in the Hispanic community related to insensitivity.

I would tell those that were offended to cool it.

Coburn said that Sotomayor would have "a lot of "splainin' to do" after she made a comment that, hypothetically, she might get a gun to shoot him in self defense.

Coburn's remark was said totally in jest; Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent and is from the Bronx, New York, understood that; why are others taking the comment to be something that it isn't?

In fact, I think using that phrase is almost a testament to the strength of the Hispanic community in this country. People forget what a trailblazer Desi Arnaz was more than 50 years ago. He was the first acknowledged Hispanic star on television (there were others who, for whatever reason, did not acknowledge this ethnicity, such as George Reeves, who starred as Superman), and he starred in, and for that matter, created, probably the top TV sitcom of all time. He made many contributions to the craft, including the way TV shows are filmed, guidelines which are used to this day.

The "splainin' to do" quote is one of the most memorable, heartfelt, and imitated quotes from the classic "I Love Lucy" sitcom. It is in reference to his "fractured" English, which was the part of many punchlines in the show. Not an iota of insensitivity was part of these punchlines; they were just funny.

In fact, the stuff that Ricky said in Spanish under his breath when Lucy did something stupid may have been even more offensive, because most viewers couldn't understand it and even more importantly, some could look at those Spanish meanderings as extremely chauvinistic and anti-woman (although I don't; I think they were hilarious even if I could only pick out a few words that I totally understood).

I think if he were alive today, Desi Arnaz, and for that matter Lucille Ball, would be very proud today.

Then why all the uproar?

The politically correct police are obviously active on this situation, but the phrase has almost become part of our national lexicon. I have heard so many people use it--heck, even wrestler John Cena has used it in reference to another character on WWE broadcasts, Vicky Guerrero, having an affair--and it is used not as a stereotypical phrase, but as a mere very slight putdown. Guerrero just happens to be Hispanic, and although this utterance on WWE doesn't make it right, necessarily, what I am trying to say is that Cena didn't use it because Guerrero was Hispanic; he used it because it was funny and fit into the plotline.

I mean, it's not the "N" word.

Also, those that were offended by this, they should be more offended by the line of questioning Sotomayor had to go through yesterday related to her knowledge of Perry Mason episodes and whether she watched the baseball All-Star game or not.

Now, that line of questioning is offensive to me, because it has nothing to do with whether Sotomayor would be a capable Supreme Court justice.

We should actually be offended by the possibility that Sotomayor, by her past actions and references, may be anti-white and anti-male. But, of course, in our politically correct world where Michael Jackson's funeral is given the reverence usually accorded to Presidents, we let stuff like this go.

Why aren't people in an uproar over this?


  1. I don't think that anything was "let go". Sotomayor was repeatedly questioned about her views. The bottom line here is that her judicial record, as agreed to by everyone who has looked at it closely, while liberal in some ways, though not in others, is squarely within the mainstream.

  2. Oh, she will definitely make it. Her story is a heartwarming one for sure, and she is a smart woman, that is for sure. I just question some of her decisions, and some of the things she has said in the past, just like some of the questioners did.

    It's the other stuff that got my goat, and the fuss being made over the "Ricky Ricardo" remark that so many people took offense to.



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