we are all yasuri yamileth
^^that's the latest latin american viral video (or the latest that i'm hopelessly late to). actually, it's but the tip of the iceberg. raquel sent me the link, which i took at first to be some sort of underground reggaeton video (which it sort of is). despite its cartoonishness, the production was low-fi enough and the performance serious enough -- and the location oh-so ghetto credful -- that it pulled off a kind of verisimilitude. but then i saw the "related videos," one after another, none of which kept as straight a face as the above.
getting into the act are lil kids (yasuritos!), and moms (in the kitchen, no less), plenty of teens (from venzuela to canada), groucho marx, and some apparently rather popular cross-dressing pals (brace yourself for that one). there's even already a highlight reel, containing clips from most of those i've mentioned:
removing much of the mystery, raquel also sent a link to a page on wikipedia, fwiw (which, yes, should go w/o saying), offering a persuasive account of the song's origins, a surprisingly (suspiciously?) detailed story about its digital distribution (naming specific bloggers and message boards), as well as a complete transcription of the lyrics. As the entry tellingly tells it:
In Venezuela, Yasuri Yamileth is a huge success because people identify that name as someone from low class with bad manners. The song is played even in the most exlcusive nightclubseveryone can identify with a good stereotype about poor people then, no? que bueno. i don't mean to be glib. clearly there are diverse modes of reception/reproduction being expressed across these videos, ranging from the celebratory and sympathetic to the exploitative and derisive (with plenty in between and beyond). but the song appears to have been invented as a distancing gesture, and the gilette razor, chorizo, and bachata references keep yasmuri yamileth squarely, even as she shimmies, in the realm of the other -- a paradoxical outcome of such a self-identified song. mi nombre es, mi nombre es, mi nombre es...
it reminds me a bit of the reaction i got from an ethno colleague who works on brazil when i asked him about the popularity of funk in broader brazilian society. "it became this slumming thing," he said...
In 2000 or so, when funk took over Carnaval and threatened to replace the usual marchinhas and other trad musics, it was not popular with [upper class kids], but aspiring thugs, trouble-makers and malandros (and maybe the real ones, too). Then, like 5 years later, it returned, pretty much sounding the same, and found a new demographic. Parents got a wee bit nervous that little Patty and Maurice were going to get into trouble via the new music, especially how they were dancing!not to see this as equivalent exactly, but there's something unnerving in the classface minstrelsy, if you will, parading around on youtube in second-hand short-shorts. at the end of the downloading day, is this just a bunch of kids (and adults) dancing to the equivalent of a kevin federline / paris hilton song?
at any rate, i'm grateful for that wiki entry b/c i'm afraid i just don't have time right now to hunt down, a la chacarron, the various strands swirling around yasuri yamileth. i find it pretty remarkable all the same.
performance and representation of class, race, gender, and sexuality aside, this latest musically-propelled meme ricocheting around the youtubosphere calls attn yet again to what sure seems like a sea change in the media environment. (indeed, i'm tempted to call it the media "ecology" based on the way these things seem to sustain each other, grow in unpredictable ways, cross-fertilize, etc.) from local dance crazes to DIY dramas, vlogs and lonelygirls, and "home movies" of all sorts, the age of peer2peer television is upon us.
let's hope the world keeps getting wired so the real yasuri yamileths will find a way to get out, get free, get even.
ps -- unrelated (sorta), pero como se dice omg! en espanol?