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- Gringos Dancing for Latinos
About 6 years ago more or less, I was living in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Which you can read more about my time in Barranquilla here.
Anyway, while I was there, I happened to have a girlfriend from the same city named Marcela.
I remember anyhow sitting on my bed scrolling through Facebook when I got a message from her on Whatsapp.
She sent me some Youtube video that basically showed this gringo dude who was speaking in Spanish and was breaking down the “10 reasons I love Colombia” or something like that.
The video basically looked like something like this here (although I don’t think this was the exact video I saw years ago)….
Anyway, I remember thinking the video seemed a little bit weird to me at the time because I didn’t get why he was speaking Spanish…
I don’t remember his nationality though but he wasn’t a Colombian or a Latino.
Some white North American or European dude.
But I remember assuming that he must speak English as his native language…
So maybe he was American or British or something?
But I remember being confused as to why he was talking in Spanish for his video when it wasn’t his native language.
Anyway, Marcela loved the video and wrote something along the lines of “how great that people are learning more about Colombia than just cocaine and violence.”
So she appreciated that somebody – a foreigner in this case – was focusing on “the positives” of Colombia than the negatives.
Anyway, it didn’t leave any real impression on me except thinking it was weird that he was choosing to speak in Spanish instead of his native language.
The only other thing I remember about the video was the gringo guy was also saying about how “great Colombian food is with so much flavor!”
Which was weird to me because my impression at the time (and nowadays) is that Colombian food sucks and doesn’t have any flavor.
Definitely not like Mexican, Argentine or Peruvian food.
But the video didn’t rub me the wrong way either.
Perhaps slightly weird and a bit up the alley of kissing Colombia’s ass.
Though I didn’t think much more about it either.
After a few minutes, I got bored with the video and moved on to something else.
And never thought about it again.
….Until about a year ago or less.
When, while part of this Telegram chat for foreigners living or visiting Latin America, somebody brought up these videos on the internet….
In particular, they brought up something called “Los Gringos” that you can see below here.
Basically with some of the members finding the video to be a bit ridiculous for a variety of reasons.
But that was the first time I got reminded that this type of online content exists.
And I got reminded of it again a month or two ago when someone posted on Twitter some video that looked like the ones above.
So I went down the rabbit hole of looking into this content and checking out what they are saying and doing with this online content.
And what is the online content they are producing basically?
Let’s break it down a little more what I have seen and what I believe is going on with this type of content.
Introducing the Gringos that Love Latin America
Initially, I had the idea that the only people doing the videos above were basically Los Gringos and maybe a few other foreigners as well.
However, I typed into Youtube stuff like “Amo Colombia” and other similar search results…
And found out that it seems there’s quite a little industry of people doing this type of content!
Here’s some videos below of different folks talking about the reasons why they love Colombia in Spanish.
But it’s not just Colombia we are here to love…
What about other countries?
Well, here’s one video of a gringo talking in Spanish about his love for Paraguay.
Obviously, we are going to have plenty of love for Mexico as it is one of the more popular Latin countries. Check out this example here.
Here’s a Japanese guy talking about his love for Panama..
Here’s a dude (I think American) that seems to have a channel with plenty of content about Brazil with a video here about why he loves Brazilian Portuguese where he explains why in Portuguese.
And I could go on all day…
From what I could find on a brief search, I could also find videos of gringos talking in Spanish about why they love Costa Rica, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay…
Hell, even Venezuela as you can see here below!
The only countries lacking in gringo love seems to be the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Guatemala from what I could tell doing a very brief Youtube search.
Seems like no gringos have monetized yet making videos in Spanish where they give basic and stereotypical reasons for why those countries are amazing.
So I suppose that might be a good hustle for anyone out there – seems like the competition is weak on making videos for those 3 countries!
Because that’s what is really going on here…
And not just white foreigners either as some might assume…
Who grab a camera and do a different type of travel video series…
Where they just hype up in Spanish (or Portuguese) whatever country they are in saying the nicest stuff with little to no mention of the negatives…
To largely a Latino audience that is insecure about the perception of their country by outsiders like Marcela above...
To which the Latino audience will eat it up and the foreigner in question can hopefully make money somehow (such as with Youtube ad revenue) and maybe get some pussy on the side from a few of the female audience members who fall in love with said gringo.
That’s my theory anyway as to what is going on here.
But what’s the deal with it then?
Because while some people are cool with this type of content…
Others, as I mentioned earlier in this article with the Telegram chat, are more negative about it.
So let’s break down some of my thoughts on this topic.
Rising to the National Media
As I said before, my personal opinion is that these foreigners are just trying to monetize a Youtube series saying good stuff to largely a Latino audience in Spanish or Portuguese.
Make money through those videos.
Fund your travels that you love to do.
Because, as I wrote in greater detail in this article here, it’s not uncommon for Latinos in Latin America to sometimes be insecure about the perception of their respective countries in the rest of the world.
With the usual negative ideas that “x Latin country” is poor, violent, uneducated and there are drugs everywhere.
My ex-girlfriend, Marcela, was a bit like that as well and was a bit sensitive to that perception (especially in regards to the whole image of Pablo Escobar).
So I get it.
And so it makes sense to me how these channels can get so much popularity on Youtube and make money from this.
However, it goes deeper than just Youtube.
As we can see in these videos here, channels like Los Gringos, Zach and others have had a lot more success than just gaining popularity on Youtube.
They are on national and international TV!
Now why would these large TV companies put some Youtube folks on their shows and dedicate time to this?
After all, that takes time and money to dedicate a segment to this.
And, as we know, the media like CNN obviously cares a lot about ratings and profit.
The truth is that these media companies also know what their audience would like to watch and what would get bigger ratings.
Especially as they appeal to mostly a Latino audience given their shows are in Spanish.
The same thing as said before – exploiting Latino insecurity.
Get higher ratings with interesting stories and make more profit.
It’s similar to when local news companies and newspapers down here cover the occasional gringo that gains attention for being a sex tourist.
Such as this guy here or this guy here.
Even though there are plenty of locals in countries like Colombia to Brazil and everywhere else who buy prostitutes or sleep around with different women..
That doesn’t sell as well as a story about the “big bad foreigner” coming by to “steal our women.”
The latter tends to piss more people off.
Though the story of Los Gringos and other similar Youtubers is less about getting ratings through shock and anger…
And more about, as I said, appealing to Latino insecurity and showing an example of how a foreigner (especially a white looking one with blonde hair and blue eyes) loves their country.
However, one could argue that some of these folks are essentially propaganda tools.
That’s part of the argument or issue that some people have with them from what I've heard.
Mixed with the criticism also that they don't do enough to cover countries like Colombia or Mexico in a more nuanced way.
Propaganda for the Elite?
The argument essentially goes like this:
- They repackage old clichés that are very basic about why x Latin country is great (good coffee, good food, nice people, awesome weather, etc).
- Never or rarely present a more critical view of x Latin country – especially one that challenges the elite or exposing the darker side of countries like Colombia.
- Foreign journalists that expose a more critical view of these countries can sometimes be denied entry while local ones are more often targeted for assassination.
Now are these folks actually propaganda tools for the elite?
It depends on how you look at it in my opinion.
First, if they were going to be more effective propaganda tools, I’d imagine they’d do more content in English to encourage foreign tourists to come to these countries.
Make the countries like Colombia or Mexico seem less dangerous and not scary for foreigners to visit.
Increase tourism and help the local economies -- which can help big business and the elites also.
Which would be more in line with Colombia’s previous campaign prior to the pandemic to encourage more tourism to the country.
With slogans like “Colombia is Magical Realism” and “the only risk is wanting to stay.”
Like you can see in this video below here.
Though, to be fair, you do have a few of these content creators, like Los Gringos, that do have some content in English like this video below here.
So maybe, in a few of these channels, they do a better job at promoting foreign tourism.
But, like I said, almost all of these content creators seem to stick to strictly Spanish for the most part from what I have seen.
On the other hand, I suppose you could try to argue that they serve as propaganda tools to the local population then as they mostly speak in Spanish (or sometimes Portuguese)....
But how logical would that be?
Sure, you can suppress any foreign and local journalism that tries to put a light on grave developments in a country like Colombia or Mexico…
But that type of journalism still happens despite the struggles it faces.
And then have the gringos always talk nicely of these countries?
But the locals are pretty well aware anyway regarding the negative developments and events that occur in their country.
A blonde hair, blue eyed gringo talking about how he loves Colombian coffee, Mexican tacos or Paraguayan yerba mate isn’t going to change that.
But, like I said, their videos do appeal to Latino insecurity as well to make locals feel better about their respective countries.
And when you consider that the definition of propaganda is "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view."
Well, I don't see much of a political bent to these videos.
So for all of the reasons above...
I find this criticism to be weak.
These types of videos are not so much propaganda tools but instead porn for some local Latinos to watch to feel better about their countries.
And I emphasize the words “some Latinos.”
Because not every Mexican, Colombian, Paraguayan, etc is going to see these videos.
And even then…
Some of them are quite critical as well of this scenario where foreigners get praised on national TV for saying basic nice stuff about Latin countries.
A good example of that is a comment below I copied and pasted from this Youtube video here of a gringo getting put on national TV in Paraguay for saying nice stuff.
“Me parece curioso que cualquier gringo o europeo que venga a Paraguay y diga que le gusta , ya los medios de comunicación le dan promoción gratis, como si no existiera personas que le guste nuestro pais , dejemos de idolatrar a esta gente solo porque hable bien del pais.”
I agree a lot more with the sentiment of the comment above.
As I said before, I feel it’s more of a way to just play on Latino insecurity and is really a win for everyone involved!
The involved gringos make money and maybe some fame.
The few locals can feel better about their respective countries.
And sometimes the larger media companies can get higher ratings.
At any rate, as the comment above implies, it is really only the foreigners who get this type of attention for saying nice things than the locals.
A Paraguayan making a video about how much he loves yerba mate probably won’t do as well as a white gringo talking about it instead.
In essence, it’s like masturbation for Colombians, Paraguayans, Mexicans, etc…
Watch a foreign say nice thing about your country…
Forget the negatives of your country for a moment and feel good.
Maybe share the video on social media like Marcela did years ago.
Then the gringo in question makes money on Youtube and maybe some TV companies jump in.
I understand there is the criticism out there also that these types of folks have a responsibility to challenge the elites....
Perhaps a responsibility also to present a more critical perspective on life in whatever Latin country...
I personally feel that is bullshit.
They don’t have any responsibility whatsoever.
These folks – anybody who does this – is simply trying to make “feel good” content for Latinos that gets popular enough to fund their travels or whatever.
Maybe fuck a few Latinas on the side that DM you on Instagram after you upload a video like some of these below...
Though I'm not saying obviously if any of the specific guys above are taking advantage of that but I'm sure any popular gringo who does these videos could do so.
Which, even if it was true, I wouldn't see anything wrong with that.
Who doesn't like pussy?
And so any gringo that makes these videos can enjoy life traveling and maybe hooking up with different Latinas.
With some extra funds from these videos.
Making it easier to travel...
Who said they need to have a deeper purpose to challenge the elites or or show a more nuanced perspective on life down here?
Because while it is true that real journalism is hard to do in Colombia from what I have heard on sites like Colombia Calling here…
Or some other Latin countries like Mexico also...
These are normal people who found a niche on Youtube to make money…
Not journalists and they never asked to be a journalist either.
And some of them, like Los Gringos, are very good at the content they make!
Personally I feel some of the people hating are just jealous of the fact that a foreigner can go to some Latin country...
Make decent money on Youtube saying nice basic stuff in Spanish...
Maybe fund his international travels with it...
And maybe get some nice Latina attention on Instagram from it.
Money, travel and pussy, bros!
Plus, you can argue the money and the fame is well-deserved because these folks are offering a service that is in demand!
.....Helping some of the locals down here feel good about their country by listening to a foreigner say nice things in Spanish.
Though I do agree in part with the critique that their content isn't very nuanced on life here but it ain't there job to be nuanced.
However, to be fair, these Youtubers might be like that because some of them might be the type to feel that a foreigner shouldn't say anything negative about a Latin country.
A sentiment I disagree with but not uncommon among some gringos down here.
And in all honesty...
I would make similar videos online also but I don’t feel like trying to appeal to Latino insecurity with my face all over that...
And like I said much earlier in this article…
It seems like there is a lack of content for particularly Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
So if any gringo wants to jump on this bandwagon to make videos in Spanish talking about why those countries are awesome…
Then I encourage you to do just that!
Maybe it will work out for you and you can make some side money.
After all, you wouldn't be the first gringo who has had success trying to appeal to a Latino audience.
Here's a funny example below that is different from those above for those who watched Drake & Josh as a kid.
I feel some of these folks are probably genuine in their love for whatever Latin country they go to.
Because I feel there has to be at least some appreciation for some of these countries if they are going to travel down here, live here for a bit, learn the language and make a mini career out of this.
With some even getting citizenship in these countries down here even!
I simply wouldn’t recommend anyone watch these types of videos because I have seen a handful now while writing this article…
And I don’t feel they are that helpful for foreigners wanting to live in Latin America.
Some of the videos are alright but the content isn’t as nuanced or helpful in giving the right advice for what gringos need to hear if they want to live down here.
So while I don’t dislike these types of videos and have nothing against their hustle...
Their content simply isn’t for me.
If you do want more helpful content though on life in Latin America that I enjoy…
Then check out this article here that has a few online sources about life in Latin America.
Anyway, as one last video for this article...
If you want to watch a video of one of these gringos -- Zach in this case -- responding to the criticism taken against folks who make the "I Love x Latin country" videos...
Then check out his response below here. A bit of self-reflection on his part that I feel is relevant to the article and a nice way to end it.
And if you have any relevant comments, questions or experiences with this topic…
Drop it below in the comment section.
Follow my Twitter here.
Excellent roundup on this trend. I’d add two things.
First, you have to add Gr3ngasho in Peru, a Mormon soccer player from Utah. His name was clearly given to him by Peruvians. The real “Gringasho” was a notorious killer-for-hire in Trujillo who captured media attention because he was so young, starting his career at about 12 years old. He got his name for his white skin. That is who the Mormon Gr3ngasho is named for.
Second, there is certainly a masturbatory dynamic driving the popularity of these personalities. However, I’d argue there is something newsworthy to justify coverage in both national and international media. A taxi driver in Lima once told me that it used to be an extremely rare event to meet a non-Hispanic foreigner, something that happened once or twice a year if lucky. Nowadays, he sees one every day. It’s normal.
There has been a large influx of foreigners living in Latin America just in the last 10 years. I first moved to South America in 2008, so I saw only the last couple years before the wave. But imagine how all the locals are taking it in, people who went their whole lives without thinking immigration from rich countries was possible. What are they doing here? Why do they like it? ¡En español por favor!