Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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But what do you meme?

When it comes to learning about a culture, humor is often the last frontier. What do people find funny, and why?

It’s often not enough to understand the language; cultural context, and sometimes even a healthy dose of local current events knowledge is key. In that spirit, we bring you a new column that is actually more of a slide show: Mexican memes!

Each week, I’ll show you a series of memes – seven to be exact, one for each day of the week! – currently making the rounds in Mexico, and will provide you with a translation, background, any relevance to current events, and hopefully, a good chuckle.

Most of these memes are found in the normal way: in chat groups, on Instagram, and on Facebook. If you’ve got a suggestion about one to include, feel free to send it my way! Now, without further ado…

Meme: “Cancelen todo, era pastel”.

“Cancelen todo, era pastel.”

Translation: “Cancel everything; it was just cake.”

The “revelation” presented to the Mexican Congress a few weeks ago by Jaime Maussan, well known in Mexico as a presenter of all things supernatural on History channel-type shows, seemed like it was positively made for memes.

This is one of my favorites, as it ties in with another weird cultural moment that’s been on people’s radar both in the US and in Mexico: competitive TV shows in which contestants make cakes that look like things, and others have to guess if they actually are those things they resemble or cake.

Meme: Mis ojos lloran por ti.

“Mis Ojos Lloran Por Ti”

Translation: “Do you have any special talents?” → “I can sing the fast part of ‘Mis Ojos Lloran Por Ti’” 

If you’ve ever been to a karaoke party in Mexico (I have personally been to and hosted many, as pretending to be a rock star is as close as I’ll ever get to actual rock stardom), chances are you’ve heard someone stumble through this song, badly.

Mis Ojos Lloran Por Ti” starts out as a romantic-sounding ballad, but then is punctuated by super fast rap segments. Listening to people try to get through it is hilarious.

Meme: “Tacos 3×10”.

“Tacos 3 x 10”

Translation: “The martian after trying the ‘3-for-10 (peso)’ tacos.”

Moctezuma gets his revenge on foreigners and nationals alike…especially when it comes to mystery-meat tacos with too-good-to-be-true prices at dubious-looking taco stands.

The cure? A generous helping of electrolytes for the lost water after tummy upsets. This alien – perhaps it’s friends with Jaime Maussan? – has apparently learned that lesson the hard way.

Meme: “¿Te gusta el chayote?

“Do you like chayote?”

Translation: “When you flirt and you’re over 40: So, do you like chayote?”

The Simpsons and Spongebob both make popular meme formats around here! Chayote is a versatile vegetable popular in Mexico, and (apparently) can even help fight cancer!  

The funny part about this meme, for me, was mostly the image, but the ridiculously boring question paired with it made me laugh out loud.

Meme: “Oiga”.

“Oiga”

If you’ve learned much about Spanish, you know that there are two ways to say “you”: the informal way, with “tú,” and the formal way, with “usted.” Each of these pronouns has its own corresponding verb conjugations (and annoyingly, actually saying the pronouns is optional).

To get someone’s attention (like saying “Hey”), “Oye” is the conjugation for “tú” and “Oiga” is the one for “usted,” often used for older people. Hence, the indignation of this phrase: “Right in the flower of my youth, someone says ‘oiga’ to me!”

Meme: “Ya está en gris”.

“Ya está en gris”

Mexicans love dogs, too!

This one is adorable in any language: “Step on it, it’s gray!”

Meme: Capitalismo.

“Capitalismo”

One meme I’ve been seeing making the rounds in English goes something like this: “Even when things are absolutely terrible, I’m still gonna make a little jokey-joke about it.”

That, I believe, could very well be Mexico’s motto when it comes to humor.

The UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de México) has recently been facing a very unwelcome problem: bedbugs (“chinches,” as they’re called here).

The UNAM is considered a bastion of liberal thought, so of course the chinches can’t help but be influenced. Here, one recently educated chinche assures us, “The problem is capitalism.”

I agree, Mr. Chinche.

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website, sarahedevries.substack.com.

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