Bad hombres: Images of masculinity and the historical consciousness of US-Mexico relations in the age of Trump

Norma Mendoza-Denton


In August of 2016, a couple of months before the United States presidential election, thencandidate Donald Trump visited the presidential palace in Mexico City at the invitation of Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto. In the wake of his visit, a barrage of images, memes, and video clips were produced to mock, memorialize, and comment on it. This article analyzes the semiotics of those images and their relations of metonymy where Trump and Peña Nieto respectively stand for their countries in scenarios as abusive and jilted lovers, as iconized Mexican toys such as piñatas  and baleros , and as the protagonists of popular movies such as Dumb and Dumber . A recurrent anxiety in these images involves the political humiliation of Mexico at the hands of the United States, and the gendered humiliation of Peña Nieto at the hands of Trump. Possible gendered rescues in memes include turning Trump over to El Chapo or to Carlos Slim, calling respectively on figure/ground relations of socio-sexual capital of masculinity and of monetary capital.


Mexico, memes, Internet, politics, Mock Spanish, Trump, Latin America, gender

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau7.1.029