Why do Latinos like British Punk?
In 'A Kiss Across the Ocean,' professor Richard Rodríguez explores musical connections between Latino fans and British bands like Morrisey and The Cure.
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Why do Latinos like British post-punk bands from the 80s so much? What binds these two seemingly disparate cultures?
In A Kiss Across the Ocean, Richard T. Rodríguez, a professor of media and cultural studies and English at UC Riverside, examines the relationship between British post-punk musicians and their Latinx audiences in the United States since the 1980s.
Melding memoir with cultural criticism, Rodríguez spotlights a host of influential bands and performers including The Cure, Morrissey, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Adam Ant, Bauhaus, Soft Cell, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Pet Shop Boys. He recounts these bands’ importance for him and other Latinx kids, and discusses their frequent identification with these bands’ glamorous performance of difference.
“Each one of us has a different relationship with music and the artist. For a lot of us who grew up marginalized due to our sexuality, class, ethnicity, it resonates even more,” said Rodríguez in an interview with UC Riverside News. “When growing up, you gravitated to what gave you a sense of empowerment and that is what music did for me and for so many other people. Music saved my life.”
Whether it was Siouxsie Sioux drawing inspiration from Latinx contemporaries and cultural practices or how Soft Cell singer Marc Almond’s lyrics were attuned to the vibrancy of queer Latinidad, Rodríguez shows how Latinx culture helped shape British post-punk.
Based in his own personal experiences, he traces the fandom networks that link these groups across space and time to illuminate how popular music establishes and facilitates intimate relations across the Atlantic. In so doing, he demonstrates how the music and styles that have come to define the 1980s hold significant sway over younger generations equally enthused by their unmatched pleasurable and political reverberations.
As reported by UCR News, through musical anecdotes Rodríguez narrates his own coming of age story, sharing some of the harsher realities of family life and social discrimination and his concert-going adventures with friends in Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and beyond.
"This book is a love letter to and memoir of the post punk and goth scene in the 1980s, written by a queer Latino author who was there, and about the connection between his two cultures: the one he was born into, and the one he chose," a review published by the San Francisco Bay Times read.