Date of this Version
“Homies” are a series of over two hundred 1¾ inch figurines created by a California artist, with the images also available on clothing, in comics, in videogames, on stickers and on the internet. The artist claims that his creations represent the whole range of people one finds in “the barrio.” As the images circulate, however, different audiences interpret them differently - some decrying their glorification of gangsters, for instance, with others lauding the portrayal of less commonly represented social types. This paper traces the uptake of Homies images in one suburban American town, a town with no previous history of Mexican settlement that has become home to thousands of Mexican immigrants over the past 15 years. In this location, Homies images are taken up in various identity projects as Anglos use them to make sense of the rapidly growing immigrant community and as Mexican youth use them to identify themselves. The role that Homies play in social identification cannot be understood by examining discrete events of media “reception,” however. Analysts must also take into account ongoing local struggles over identity through which the mass mediated images come to have meaning and in which these images sometimes play central roles. The recontextualization of these mass mediated images among different groups in town sometimes results in the homogenization of identities - with the signs used to construe Mexican youth in unflattering ways drawn from nationally circulating stereotypes - while at other times the images are taken up in less familiar identity projects.
Date Posted: 08 December 2011
This document has been peer reviewed.