Thursday, April 19, 2007

Glimpses of Mexico's cultural life

Not a day goes by when I don't think about the Miss Universe competition and its cultural relevance. Well, in Mexico they've just upped the ante and there is an all mighty row kicking off about Miss Mexico's *dress*. Too revealing? Nope, too political.

Rosa Maria OjedaThe dress, complete with bandoleer for a belt, depicts scenes from an uprising in the 1920's, the Cristero War, including firing squads and the lynching of Catholic rebels. The Cristero War was a rebellion of generally poorer Catholics (who took the name of the movement from the word "Christ") against the government brought in by the 1910-17 Mexican Revolution a decade before.

On the positive side the secular government wanted to see a separation between Church and State and remove religious instruction from the education system. However, they pr
obably went a bit far when banning monastic orders, forbidding religious worship outside of church buildings, banning the wearing of habits or robes and taking away the right of religious leaders to vote or comment on public affairs. Although I sympathise, I really, really do.

You can read all about it on Wikipedia which is a gripping read about shoot-outs, martyrs (John Paul II made 25 of them saints apparently) and other such Boys' Own stuff. I can't say it's the kind of rebellion I might wear a dress to support, although opinion is divided on whether the dress is actually pro- or anti-. Certainly the Catholic Herald thinks Miss Mexico is "mocking" those who were killed (which is a little harsh as the dress was chosen for her). They seem to think this is an intervention against the church's role today in Mexican politics, and in particular their opposition to abortion. If so, good luck to her.

Alas, whatever the intentions behind it, the dress is being redesigned with offending images replaced by the "Virgin of Guadalupe" whom-so-ever she might be.

Book recommendation: The power and the glory - Graham Greene's take on these events (the war not the dress, obviously).

On a more up market note: Disillusioned Kid has an interesting review-like blog post on Subcomandante Marcos' literary offerings.

And one last quick mention: Why are 600 girls in Mexico suffering from collective hysteria? It seems that an entire nun-run school full of girls has convinced itself that it's ill, despite their being no cause that doctors can detect. I would like to point out that this story may be utter balls - however it caught my eye none the less.


moll said...

This dress issue is fantastic. The belt really brings the whole outfit together, don't you think?

>replaced by the "Virgin of Guadalupe" whom-so-ever she might be.

*Gah!* I'll assume that's sarcasm. (If not, start here, taking especial note of the bit about her being one of the most, if not the most, important symbols of Mexican identity.)

Disillusioned kid said...

Cheers for the link. If you get the cahnce to read the book I'd be curious to hear what you make of it.