domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2009

Across the border: Bruce Springsteen by a mexican view

Víctor García Zapata.
UNAM - México

Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium.
Monmouth University. New Jersey
Septiembre 25, 26 y 27. 2009.

More than an academic dissertation, I want to share with you some ideas on how does one watches Springsteen from a nearby country and society close to the United States but, certainly, away of the Springsteen universe.

I'll start by saying that in Mexico, Bruce’s activity, - disks, concerts, declarations, are not relevant. Although all his disks are in every specialized store, they are offered without any kind of promotion and to extremely high prices compared to the rest of the popular disks ($ 25).

It’s him, Bruce, someone well respected in the intellectual and music expert circles and occasionally, merits a column in mainstream media cultured spaces. Other than that little is known about him and is generally considered a triumphant history of the 80s.

I am certain that better promotion should be made. I don’t know the sales ratings in Mexico but little or almost nothing is what happens in the radio and none of the national music magazines gives account of his productions.

However, the marketing has its influence, sure, but certainly another important reason has to do with the fact that rock in Mexico hasn’t lost its status of alternative. While in the United States it’s a musical expression introyected by every social sector and rooted in the popular culture; in my country is an identified manifestation with youth, rebellion, protest, in many cases with marginalization and used as a vehicle of expression against what is established, conventional , restrictive and all those different forms of domination. Although little by little, and, in many cases, to the shelter of the transnational record companies, they are bands and musicians arising who play rock but undress it of its constestatary character, the truth is that it’s still complicated that a rock icon manages to penetrate in broad popular segments.

On the other hand, although related. Springsteen’s disquisitive and visual codes, the contents of the lyrics, their trajectories and behaviors associate him with the American popular culture. This complicates their assimilation by the Mexican public because, to a great extent, the United States and its more entrenched representations are seen and associated, in Mexico, as part of the prototype image of the political and economic regime that generates oppression, marginalization, the economic and, also, cultural domination that persists in my country as part of the third world.

In the formation of the Mexican collective identity, the construction of the offenses as a nation that doesn’t finish its development, happens to identify as guilty, not only the corrupt political class that has governed since 1940 to the date, but also the American political regime which has promoted, among other things: sackings of natural resources, violation to the human rights of migrant workers, unilateral benefits in the trade mechanisms, companies operating without respect on the Mexican labor regulations, among others.

There are American artists with fairly good acceptance among the Mexican public, even the progressive public of various preferences: Bob Dylan, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, REM, Metallica. But all of them, although different, share the configuration of their identity from critic codes of the conventional codes, those of the common citizen, the red necks or white trash, among others, which are seen as the support of the Republican Party in the collective imaginary configuration.

I know that this is not always the case; I believe that I am generalizing irresponsibly, but what I want to explain is that the prototype images on the American society as a harmful political regime detrimental for our country inhibit the possibility of the absorption of Springsteen by a majority public in Mexico.

Those who, for various reasons, have had disposition to deepen in the contents of his work, have met with tremendous statements regarding the contradictions of capitalism, warnings of what can happen to us if our corrupt governments follow exactly what the governments and the great economic interests of United States tell them.

But, above all, we have found a composer committed with the surrounding circumstances. For that reason he can only be conceived as someone whose creative process depends not only on his technical - musical evolution, but also by his permanent interaction with his reality, that in a persistent way, always influences in the emotional factor touched always by reflections on the life of the more inborn and less cosmopolitan communities, the lack of opportunities for the workers, and the everyday life of those oppressed who are not able to exercise their rights. And that commitment to spread that what happens, either as confessor, narrator, or as a journalist, is what constitutes, I think its main virtue, but may just be the main obstacle to increase his acceptance in extremely contrasting in cultural spheres, but not in terms of inequality which determines the functioning of societies.

Finally, I would like to mention an important lesson for all those who want to understand reality and even want to modify it through political action: Sprinsgteen’s literary construction is always a vivid intention to speak from the point of view of all those involved in a conflict, validating everyone’s position and identifying them as character of their stories based on the daily lives of common people: workers, migrants, policemen, victims, terrorists, loving couples, they appear all, speaking out from a position of legitimacy on their actions. I do believe it is from this point where we have to start building society

Thanks to Springsteen I’ve learned that not all the United States is “Middle-class” and that not all its society is reflected in the, certainly harmful for the people, agreements between governments. That in the North there is also a South, and that this is more complex than what the prototypes suggest. And this complexity must be considered on the construction of the post - depression society that today, more than ever, is urgent to build.

New Jersey, EU. Septiembre de 2009