Sol, sombra, y media luz: History, parody, and identity formation in the Mexican American carpa

Peter C. Haney

Abstract

This paper analyzes a parody of the tango “A media luz” that was performed by Rodolfo Garcia, a Mexican American comedian who worked in his family’s tent show, the Carpa Garcia, in the early 1940s. I argue that by juxtaposing the generic conventions of the tango with those of the canción ranchera and by introducing carnivalesque humor, Mr. Garcia’s parody articulated a distinctly local Mexican American identity which was strongly linked to a sense of working-class masculinity. In this way, the parody highlights the class- and gender-based contradictions that were inherent in ongoing processes of Mexican American identity fonnation at mid-century.

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