After spending a few days in the San Fernando Valley to attend a graduation, I'm struck by how unprepared for it I was, based on my cultural conditioning. Sure, I knew the statistics that Los Angeles has the largest concentration of Mexicans and illegal immigrants in the country, and that while some areas are nearly 100% this way, even the other areas (aside from really rich ones) are close to a tipping point, etc. But I didn't have any mental images or vivid experiences to this effect.
Here is a list of movies set in Los Angeles -- see how many of them from more recent years even touch on Mexican lifestyles, illegal immigrants, and so on. Maybe two or three, despite the astronomical rise in these populations in the wake of the 1986 amnesty. The resulting baby boom produced a generation of teenagers during the 2000s, and normally you'd expect a baby boom to command attention from the culture-makers. Look at how fascinated (or horrified) the media were during the Valley Girl's hey-day of the early 1980s when the 15-24 age group swelled to its largest share of the population in recent history.
And since the media are only giving their audiences what they're interested in, we infer that unlike the average news reader of the early 1980s who hungered for information about Valspeak -- whether to imitate it the better or to confirm their fears about how low the culture was sliding -- the news consumers of today find Mexican young people incredibly boring. This is not an effect of whites viewing a white vs. non-white group, since whites were and have been fascinated by the black culture of L.A. and other major cities, and this regardless of the black people's class -- upper-class families like those of The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were just as popular as the middle-class one in Family Matters and the lower-class ones of the gangsta scene in music and movies.
Africans are simply more culturally creative and dynamic than Central Americans. We can judge the success of each group by how widely their cultural products are adopted throughout the world. Even within Latin America, no one cares about ranchero music outside of Central America, while the more African-influenced music of the Caribbean Hispanic groups -- who are numerical underdogs -- thrives throughout the region. Outside of Latin America, I don't think anyone could identify a single genre of Central American music by name (mariachi perhaps) -- all those Spanish names they'd rattle off in hopes of getting it right would actually be Caribbean, or maybe Brazilian (another country with substantial African influence). "Cross-over" Hispanic musicians also come nearly exclusively from Caribbean groups or those from other places of heavy African influence (like Shakira's area in Colombia).
African-area Hispanics are also more exciting to interact with for the same reasons. Both sexes take more of an interest in their appearance, and it's an appearance worth taking an interest in. The girls have more curvaceous bodies and asses that are as armamental as they are ornamental -- in case she needs to knock that other bitch out of her way on the dance floor. And the guys have less body fat and more muscle mass. The typical Central American you see in Los Angeles (or I presume elsewhere) has a much more doughy build and the females have no hips, which is not unusual for Amerindian groups. Turning again to the judgment of the world's peoples, how often do you see Africans vs. Amerindians as models or in advertisements generally?
Really the only area of culture that Central Americans dominate in is junk food like tacos, bean & rice burritos, and other carboholic garbage. These mostly meatless meals reflect the lack of large game animals in the New World after the present-day Amerindians arrived and wiped them all out. In Africa, big game animals co-evolved with humans, becoming ever better at evading our (ever better) methods of attack and escape, thus avoiding extinction. Even in Europe where big animals were not hunted but raised as livestock, they still contributed to the diet (they did too for African pastoralists). So where Latin American culture is mostly a fusion of European and African influences, the food befits a human being and is full of animal flesh, while the more indigenous cuisines are hunger-causing heaps of grains, pulses, and vegetables. During the anti-fat, anti-animal products scare of the past 30 years, this junk has become more widely tolerated and Mexican food has exploded in popularity as a result. But deep down everyone knows that, however guilty they (wrongly) feel about it, chewing over Brazilian churrasco is more satisfying than shoveling Mexican grains down your throat.
Getting back to my main point about cultural depictions of Los Angeles, most of those image-makers come like I do from the east coast where Central American influence is tiny and African influence is huge. When Jewish directors who grew up in New York go out to film in L.A., they bring with them their expectations about who the non-white ethnic groups are. This renders Central Americans invisible in their movies, and thus invisible to the average American movie-goer, some of whom will go on to direct more movies set in L.A. that ignore Central American influences. Really the only way to break out of this is to just go there and see real life for yourself. It's no longer the mecca for energetic and sanguine white teenagers that you see in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (an accurate portrayal back in 1982), but increasingly a cultural no-go zone of embittered and demoralized Mexicans.
This lack of energy and palpable sense of resentment is something you have to go there to feel for yourself. All tribes say that their group is superior to the many out-groups, and in most cases they appear to believe it or at least behave as if they believed it. It fosters a certain cockiness, as when the young females of Tehrangeles unabashedly talk about how don't worry if you like us, i mean c'mon everyone knows persian girls are hotter. i mean i'm not trying to sound stuck up, but i'm not gonna lie, that's just how it is. Going back to Brazilian restaurants, their almost flirtatious enthusiasm is hard to miss -- they're confident that their food is going to make you orgasm.
But Mexicans serving you their culture (at least in the US) have a barely concealed look of resentment on their face, like it's curling their toes to have to interact with you. Again this is not an effect of being a Non-Asian Minority since any black-owned restaurant has the typical feel of a group that believes it's better than the others. There's that sense of pride and the confidence that they're going to knock your white-boy socks off. Just look for genuine, not forced, smiles. It must put a real chip on a Mexican's shoulder to know that non-Central Americans only eat their food when they want some quick junk rather than a fulfilling and civilized meal, and to always get asked whether they like the music of Shakira or Jennifer Lopez or some other superstar from a non-Amerindian region. That's the real sting -- to be beaten out by blacks. That's why they look at you like you're a traitor -- "Hey, you're white, you're supposed to be on our side, not the Africans'."
This expanding smoggy cloud of bitterness and dejection threatens to suffocate our culture's nervous system, but because it's being spread by high-fertility Mexican immigrants rather than a handful of white dorks who listen to Marilyn Manson, we cannot bring ourselves to talk about it -- or to see it -- at all.