After seeing Carlos Mencia's show in Las Vegas on September 16th (Mexican Independence Day), I don't expect him to get an invitation from Don Francisco.
The hilarious and often controversial Latino comedian commented on a plethora of topics in his show, and he was his usual equal-opportunity offender. He didn't even spare Spanish-language TV. In his musings about education, he tied the poor academic achievement of Latino students to their parents' proclivity for watching Spanish-language TV. Dios mio!
And then he zeroed in on Sabado Gigante--and this should be of interest to ALL agencies, Anglo and Spanish-language agencies alike. Mencia argued that while US companies pay "millions of dollars" to celebrities to endorse their products, these same companies just pay Don Francisco to get his audience members to sing product jingles, such as "Sneekers, Sneekers..." (that's "Snickers, Snickers...").
While there were ostensibly plenty of Latinos in Vegas because it was Mexican Independence Day (and there was a big boxing match the following night that involved a Mexican-American fighter), Mencia's audience was pretty diverse. Yes, there were many Hispanics but you also saw plenty of Anglos and African-Americans. Mencia's Comedy Central show "The Mind of Mencia," while off the air now, no doubt generated lots of fans for Mencia.
But it was Mencia's comment on Hispanic educational attainment that struck me because quite honestly it has crossed my mind in the past. Inflammatory? No. Thought-provoking? Yes, so I decided to dig a little.
Mencia, who once majored in electrical engineering at Cal State LA, is no dummy so he was referring to well-known Department of Education statistics that show Hispanic youth having a 17.6% high school drop out rate, compared with 5.2% for Whites, 3.4% for Asian and 9.3% for Blacks. And the same stats show that immigrant students have higher drop rates than US-born children.
To be sure, Mencia has no shortage of detractors, and the many Anglo sales persons and executives at Spanish-language TV networks may not be able to relate to what he's saying, but he does raise a point that should not be ignored. I could offer up my personal experience with this issue but that really requires an entirely separate posting.
As we Latinos continue to increase our numbers, and take our rightful places in American society, we can ill-afford to be ill-prepared. While many of us will continue to consume media in Spanish and English, we cannot lose sight of the future. If one day, we aim to run the company that makes Snickers, singing about "Sneekers" may not be enough to get us that executive post.