Children of Aztlan: Mexican American popular culture and the post-Chicano aesthetic
Wegner, Kyle David
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Since the Chicano movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s many Chicanos have been allowed to enter the mainstream, assuming positions which permit them to maintain some control over the images and representations put into the market place. I begin this project from the premise that the issues of popular culture and the construction of Chicano identity cannot be separated from issues of class, labor, and political economy---language, nationality, and citizenship. I explore power relations embedded in different forms of popular culture. I examine the "power to define" and explore how Chicano popular culture is shaped by the economic and/or social matrix from which it emerges. My review of Chicano popular culture includes a close analysis of three areas of creative expression. I use the term post -Chicano to describe the political, social, and cultural experience of the Mexican American community since the end of the civil rights and Chicano movements. Chapter One addresses commercially successful Chicano hip hop artists, from the late 1980s to the twenty-first century. Historically Chicanos have played an important role in all aspects of hip hop culture but their contribution is largely invisible within popular culture as well as much academic discourse. In Chapter Two I explore the work of the nationally syndicated comic artist known as Lalo Alcaraz, whose daily comic is the only strip to present a critical Chicano perspective, within mainstream newspapers, on many different cultural and political topics. In Chapter Three the work and life of filmmaker Robert Rodríguez provides an example of what the future may hold for Chicanos who enter, and become successful in, mainstream U.S. society without surrendering their Chicano-ness. In this chapter I also provide an analysis that moves beyond the textual.