"¡Andale! ¡Andale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!" Famous all over the world, Speedy Gonzales is an internationally recognized icon of Mexico. Speedy is an animated cartoon from the Warner Brothers Loony Tunes cartoon series.
Known as being the fastest mouse in all of Mexico, he wears an enormous yellow sombrero, wraps a red handkerchief around his neck, is extremely mobile, very intelligent, and speaks with an exaggerated Mexican accent. He has appeared in up to 46 different cartoons. Speedy was banned by Cartoon Network in 1999 for depicting unfair and untrue stereotypes about Mexicans — although the issue was not necessarily Speedy himself, but his fellow mice who were portrayed as drunk and lazy. Speedy is a character that is surrounded by controversy but also fame and popularity, even to this day.
His adventures have him always outsmarting and outmaneuvering Sylvester the Cat, aka "el Gringo Pussygato." Speedy doesn’t always journey alone and is often helped by his fellow mice or his slow-footed and slow-minded cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez. When Speedy was banned, much of the opposition to his removal from Cartoon Network actually came from the Hispanic community, who saw Speedy as a hero and a "cultural icon." Cartoon Network eventually relented, but Speedy's airtime was significantly decreased due to some of the derogatory material towards Hispanics. There is now an interesting disclaimer played before these cartoons, which reflects the conscience the United States today: The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time.
The cartoons may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were false then and are still false today. While they do not represent the WB view of society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim these prejudices never existed. Speedy's signature catchphrase is what attracts most viewers to watch this little rodent cause havoc and save the day. His first appearance came in 1953 with the cartoon "Cat-Tails for Two," and he was still around 50 years later: in 2003, he appeared in the movie Loony Tunes: Back in Action
, in which he mocked his politically incorrect origins. More recently, he has appeared in video games and music videos and is a regular on Latin American television.
Speedy Gonzales has come a long way since the 1950s. From being represented as a racist farce of the Mexican identity to becoming a defender and icon for Hispanics, this is a case where the perception of race has been inverted. Today, many Hispanics see Speedy Gonzales as a hero because of his intelligence, sense of justice, and sense of humor. It will be interesting to see if, in the future, an image of Hispanics will be portrayed in the media without including racial stereotypes.
Here are some of his beloved catchphrases:
Hola Pussycat! Are you looking for a nice mouse dinner?
They don’t make pussycats like they used to.
Holy frijoles, that thing runs faster than me!