"Spain is a peaceful land of giant hats and luchadores (or maybe we're getting that confused)."
Fiction writers seem to not just confuse Mexico
, but to fuse them into a strange amalgam of the most general stereotypes of both, much as Scotireland
fuses Scotland and Ireland. Maybe it's because they share a language
, the fact that Mexico used to be a Spanish colony, they both have exotic foods and customs compared to an Anglo-Saxon culturenote
, or simply that the author didn't check the facts and
hasn't travelled much, either.
American writers (and particularly those in California
) also have the excuse that Mexico is literally over the border from the US while Spain is an ocean away, so the more familiar Mexican culture to them colours their perception of Spain. This approach, naturally, requires the writer to ignore that Mexican culture owes as much to the native cultures that existed there before the Spanish conquest as it does to Spain's (although Hollywood has never showed its strengh when having to keep those apart either
), that Mexico is more influenced by US culture than Spain is, and that the two countries are, simply put, an ocean apart
from each other and have been not under the same flag for nearly two centuries now, meaning that they have had ample room to develop independently from each other - be it in law, politics, holidays, food, dress, music or language. Indeed, not only do they speak different dialects of Spanish in Spain and Mexico (the epic wars
between supporters of Spaniard and Latin American dubs in YouTube
are testament to that) but there are several different accents and dialects within each country that can be very
different compared to each other.
In short, equating Spain and Mexico is like saying that the United Kingdom and the United States are basically the same.
In its usual form, this trope is represented by a group or town that is full of stereotypically Mexican
people, set in a location or doing an activity better suited to the other. That is, when they aren't just made into a mish-mash. It could be a Spanish mariachi band at a wedding instead of a tuna
, or a town of thick-mustachioed men in sombreros and ponchos dancing Flamenco. When South of the Border
and Latin Land
are brought into the mix, it could even end with Spain being depicted as a hot, tropical jungle or desert full of revolutionary outlaws, sometimes fighting a Banana Republic
run by a Fascist dictator (which might have been technically true during Franco's dictatorship, except there are no tropical jungles
in Spain. But it's definitely false in anything set after 1978, and that being generous).
US productions are likely to misrepresent Spaniards more often than Mexicans, since Mexicans have many more demonstrable stereotypes in American pop-culture than Spaniards do, and they will likely have a much easier time casting Mexican actors (or from anywhere else in Latin America) than Spanish ones, accents and even race
be damned. In Japan, where both nations are equally exotic, the mix and mash is likelier to happen both ways.
See Toros y Flamenco
and South of the Border
for Hollywood Atlas
versions of Spain and Mexico, respectively. Contrast Latin Land
for a similar fusion of different countries south of the United States in a process not that different of Spexico, with only jungle or llamas
added for flavor depending on the circumstances, and narcoterrorists if convenient.
Compare Far East
, Ancient Grome
, and Mayincatec
. Spexico is not the only example of transatlantic fusion, however: a similar phenomenon occurs with depictions of Quebec in Hollywood movies as being full of Frenchmen with Parisian accents and mannerisms, and outside the Anglosphere some people can't see the difference between the UK and the USA either.
Anime & Manga
- Verizon, as seen in this sociologist's blog post, has got a print ad out there with "Coverage in Spain" on it (just ignore the "and 25 more countries than the UN recognizes" part) with the Verizon guy in front of a crowd of stereotypical Mexicans.
- The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones issue The Fourth Nail loops the loop with its visit to Argenspexico. Boleadoras?
- Viggo Mortensen was cast as a swashbuckling hero in the Spanish Film of the Book Alatriste. This trope comes into play as he speaks fluent Spanish, but it's the Argentine accent (he lived in Argentina in his youth for several years), which is different from both European (Castillian) and Mexican Spanish. Mortensen does his best to hide it, but he still sounds like he's having difficulty articulating. Given that the character is rather laconic anyway, the filmmakers might have thought that this was an acceptable artistic choice.
- Many Spanish-speaking actors are cast as other nationalities within the Spanish-speaking world. This isn't particularly surprising given how often all actors play characters of different ethnic backgrounds than their own.
- Antonio Banderas is Spanish, but often plays Mexican characters, such as in his two El Mariachi films. In the original English version and in the Mexican dub for Shrek he gives Puss-in-Boots a thick Spaniard accent, whereas in the Spaniard dub he uses an Andalusian accent (which, funnily enough, is his mother accent—he's from Málaga).
- Penélope Cruz is Spanish, but has played Mexican and even Brazilian characters.
- Many aspiring Spanish actors worked as extras in spaghetti westerns (shot in scenic Almería, Southern Spain) playing Mexican characters. You can make a game of watching these movies and spotting the extras who would later gain recognition.
- Gael García Bernal, who is Mexican and has played so in Babel, has played the Argentinian Che Guevara in two different movies. He also played a Spaniard in Bad Education, after convincing director Pedro Almodóvar that he could speak with a convincing Castilian accent.
- And reportedly back in the day when Spanish-language versions of movies were shot on the same Hollywood (literally) sets at night, whoever was available was cast totally without consideration of diverse accents—Spexico meets Latin Land.
- Invoked in The Spanish Inn by Cedric Klapisch, a Spanish student takes offense at the way a visiting Brit caricatures her country, and mentions that saying "Caramba" is a Mexican, not a Spanish thing... Even though it actually is.
- In TMNT, the four ancient Aztec generals are named Mono, Gato, Aguila, and Serpiente. Why would ancient Aztec people from 1000BC have names in Spanish? Not only did the Spanish language not exist 3000 years ago (for that matter, it's debatable whether Latin did) - the Spanish people did not colonize Mexico till after 1492 AD, and the Aztec Empire itself got started in 1323 CE. So this is also an Anachronism Stew.
- In Thumbelina, "Los Sapos Guapos" come from Spain. They feature elements from Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina in their songs (and possibly more countries). They do not stop at Spexico- they also throw in elements from Brazil and Italy! All while living in France.
- Most astounding example in Tom Clancy 's Op-Center: Balance of Power: It looks like the author's first intention was to draw a parallelism between the nationalities of the former Yugoslavia and Spain, but did not do the most basic research and confused "ethnicity" with race. As a result his depiction of Spain is that of a society divided into racial castes with close resemblance to the traditional ones of Mexico and many other countries in Latin America (i.e. Whites on top, Mestizos in the middle, Indians and Blacks at the bottom), without realizing that said division is the result of an old colonial system that couldn't obviously exist in Spain since she was the original colonizer. And that's only one of the thousands of errors in the book.
- The War That Came Early did the research when it had Chaim Weinberg remind himself that in Castilian dialect the letters C and Z are pronounced like 'th' rather than 's'note . Sadly, it invalidated itself immediately by having Spanish characters using Mexican slang like mamacita or pendejo.
- Dan Brown's Digital Fortress portrays Seville, Spain as a Third World hellhole with rampant crime, poverty and corruption, where injured citizens have to struggle to get basic medical treatment at hospitals, and most people apparently don't have access to hot water. Brown apparently confused some of the more negative stereotypes about Mexico with Spain, which is a fairly prosperous Western European country with a GDP that isn't that far from the United States'. Spain has also had universal healthcare since 1986, and its healthcare system is considered one of the best in the world.
- In "Princess Mariana and Lixo Island", it is never specified where Mariana lives. Is she in Latin America, or the Iberian Peninsula? The location has access to the ocean (so it is not a landlocked country) and relatively warm weather- but the actual inhabitants, flora, and fauna could be part of both Iberian countries, as well as many Latin American countries.
- Take a band of Zapatistas. The more indigenous the better. Then drop them in the Rockies, dress them with the clothes left over by the Sicilian scenes of The Godfather and make them live in wooden barracks with bananas in the porch. According to MacGyver, this is the Basque Country.
- In Arrested Development Maeby buys plane tickets to Portugal because she wants her parents to think she's going to South America. Later, GOB discovers the tickets and, knowing that Michael is trying to learn Spanish, he concludes that Michael is fleeing to South America. In the new series on Netflix, George Micheal spends a year in "Spain" for study abroad, but from what we're shown it more closely resembles Mexico. He loses his virginity to and is implied to have impregnated his hostess, played by an American actress of Puerto Rican decent. All of the people he interacts with in "Spain" are played by Latin Americans.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?
- Lampshaded in a sketch where Neil Ashdown is supposed to be a bartender in Spain:
Neil: Would you care for some tortillas? ...No, wait, that's Mexico. Never mind. ...I've been around, you know.
- In another episode, during a game of Hollywood Director, the three actors play out a scene from Zorro, which takes place in Mexico. None of their fake accents are even remotely alike, prompting Ryan to comment, "Funny how we all come from a different part of Spain!"
- Played straight by Blanche about her Cuban suitor in an episode of The Golden Girls:
Blanche: The point is, [Fidel]'s rich, he's handsome and we were made for each other...even if I don't speak Mexican.
- In the Season 5 Angel episode "Unleashed," the episode's villain Crane says the following to his clientele (note that mole is a family of Mexican sauces):
Crane: When I dined on werewolf in Seville, the cocinera used an understated molé [sic] sauce to bring out the meat's tanginess.
- One episode of Mind of Mencia had a Spanish celebrity invoke this to get into a nightclub. It Makes Sense in Context.
- The LOST episode "Ab Aeterno"'s flashbacks are set in the Canary Islands, yet the accents and dialects used are all Latin American Spanish. Almost an Acceptable Break from Reality, since Canary Spanish has an accent similar to that of some Latin American dialects.
- In the 8th season of How I Met Your Mother, Ted recalls a trip he made to Spain with a fanny pack. The montage shows Ted going through a map of the correct country (albeit with all the cities misplaced and many of them misspelled, one's spot even falls in Portugal even though it is coloured differently) and in typical Toros y Flamenco places. Then, at the end of the montage, a group of Mexican mariachi show up, and Ted proudly (but obliviously) points out that he was nicknamed by the locals El ganso con la riñonera ("The doofus with the fanny pack"). So off, it has to be deliberate.
- A background news piece in Intelligence (2014) mentions a "Federal Police in Spain". Mexico has a federal police. Spain doesn't. The world of Intelligence is also apparent home to a CIA task force that plans selective killings of Basque separatists.
- One episode of Lizzie McGuire had Lizzy and her friends as contestants on a Mexican game show. One of the challenge segments on the show had two teams racing for components of a matador costume.
- The 1970s rock band Carmen, which was formed by Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles, invoke this trope through the use of flamenco stylings and Spanish imagery. Considering they were formed as an outgrowth of the Allen siblings’ parents’ flamenco nightclub it’s at least somewhat justified. Ironically, the band found no initial success at home and only became notable after relocating to Europe, adding a British bassist and drummer and cementing the Spanish influences. Then they became a near-legendary opening act for several British Progressive Rock bands touring the US.
- There was considerable cross-fertilization between Spanish and Mexican culture, back when Mexico was "New Spain," and some practices they picked up from each other persist to this day. Both countries enjoy churros and hot chocolate, though their traditional recipes now differ, and bullfighting is still practized in both nations.
- The word "Hispanic" used to be common on survey forms, literally meaning "Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America." Not that the word Latin is much better (it's actually worse, as Latin is also applicable to Brazil, Portugal, Italy, France and the Francosphere, as well as Spain). Ironically, Latin is now the more popular term.
- The central Mexican city of Guanajuato (in the state of the same name) fits this trope. It is a very well preserved colonial town that closely resembles remote villages in Spain that have not changed much since the Middle Ages. At first glance, Guanajuato is practically indistinguishable from such villages apart from the fact that the population is of course Mexican rather than Spanish. Playing on the town's colonial heritage are bands whose members dress like sixteenth century Spanish noblemen but play traditional Mexican songs of various genres. Furthermore, you can eat tacos or enchiladas and drink micheladas in little inns that seem to have come right from a Toros y Flamenco town (none of which serve Spanish food, by the way).
- A case of The Coconut Effect: Selling Mexican sombreros has become a lucrative business in Barcelona and beach resorts in eastern Spain because of the increasing demand from tourists. That's because that while Mexican sombreros did descend from the original hats worn in Andalucia, they generally don't resemble their ancestorsnote anymore, but are by far the most popular variant.
- John McCain starred a quite strange moment during an interview with a Spanish-speaking radio of Miami. When asked if he would receive Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the White House (Spain's Prime Minister at odds with the Bush administration because of his opposition to the war in Iraq), McCain answered that he had "a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us and standing up to those who are not (...) [a]nd that's judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America and the entire region". Even after the interviewer made clear that she was talking about "Spain, in Europe" and pressed for a more clear response, McCain continued in his vague remarks and then praised the Mexican government of Felipe Calderon. Critics accused McCain being unfamiliar with the differences between Spain and Latin America.
- Jeb Bush thanked the "President of the Republic of Spain" for his support during a visit in 2003. Spain is a constitutional monarchy, and although its head of government's title in Spanish (which Jeb Bush speaks very well) is Presidente del Gobierno ("President of the Government"), he is invariably called "Prime Minister" in English.
- Spanish-born filmmaker Luis Buñuel acquired Mexican citizenship after the Spanish Civil War forced him into exile and made films in both Spain and Mexico (and later on, France) at various points in his career.
- Reportedly, the Famous Last Words of Spanish writer Ramón del Valle-Inclán (who had lived for nearly 30 years in Mexico) were that Spain wasn't Spain anymore, and that to get a real Spanish feeling you had to cross the Atlantic.
- In Paris, there are quite a few 'Tex-Mex' restaurants that serve Spanish food.
- On a train from Barcelona to Zaragoza, you might be surprised to see how much the landscape of the Spanish countryside looks like classic depictions of southwestern North America (almost like a Road Runner cartoon). It is for this reason—as well as the high availability of dark-skinned, Spanish-speaking actors, that Sergio Leone and other Italian directors of "Spaghetti Westerns" tended to shoot their films in Spain, particularly in Andalucia, since getting to the actual Mexico or United States was simply too expensive.
- Castille in 7th Sea, with fencers, powerful Inquisition, pirates and Armadas... and inexplicably, Ranchos and El Vago, Zorro's Expy.
- While not taking place in Spain (despite everyone thinking it so), the Ganados in Resident Evil 4 speak with Mexican accents, despite supposedly be somewhere in Europe. A straighter example would be Luis Sera, who says he's from Madrid, but has a Mexican accent. Of note is that an actual ingame map places this "village in a Castilian speaking country that it is not Spain" in the center of the Iberian Peninsula, next to Madrid. But Capcom insists that it is not Spain.
- Likewise, Esteban Noviembre from The Cursed Crusade speaks in a blatantly stereotypical Mexican manner despite being a Spaniard. In the Middle Ages.
- In Freelancer, the Corsairs and the Outcasts, descendants from passengers of the sabotaged spaceship Hispania, were probably modeled after Spain and Latin America.
- Spain Hill is a location in The World Ends with You whose only feature is... a Mexican restaurant. Note that "Spain Hill" is a real life location in Shibuya, Tokyo, in which the game is set. In reality the very Spanish embassy in Japan is located in that hill, hence the name.
- Black Velvetopia in Psychonauts combines bullfighting and Spanish architecture with Mexican luchadores and painters dressed in South of the Border-style outfits. It's mildly justified in that it takes place in the mind of an ambiguously Latino asylum patient who was never involved in bullfighting or masked Mexican wrestling to begin with, and probably hasn't ever been to Spain.
- An alternate outfit◊ of Miguel's from Tekken Tag Tag Tournament 2 is a good example of this trope. Miguel is from Spain, and while his puffy white shirt does seem Spanish, the rest of his outfit seems very much Mexican-inspired, rather than Spanish-inspired.
- In the episode The Bull Market of the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective series, Ace discovers that a stolen bull has been shipped to Spain. Of course, because there is only one city in Spain, he immediately goes to Pamplona, that happens to be in the middle of the Running of the Bulls. Except it's only the bulls who are running because the "Spaniards" are sleeping the siesta inside their ponchos and sombreros in the middle of the street. Ahem.
- Filmations Ghostbusters' episode "The Ghost of Don Quixote" has a milder example with Spaniards constantly using Mexican slang and a villain who is a walking robber baron stereotype down to the Cantinflas moustache. Also, every Spanish character but Don Quixote has orange skin for some reason.
- In the 1930's Classic Disney Short Ferdinand The Bull, the narrator tells us the story is set in "sunny Spain." However, many of the Spaniards look like stereotypical Mexicans, with sombreros, brown skin, thick black mustaches, etc.
- Generator Rex. While fighting four highly skilled assassins in an alley, Rex crosses with Dos, who speaks Spanish. Rex (who is Hispanic) asks him in Spanish if he's from Mexico. Dos raises his weapon and angrily declares "¡España!"
- Looney Tunes, more specifically, Speedy Gonzales. The town where Speedy lives is the clearest example of Spexico you'd ever find. Complete with flamenco, bulls, tacos and zarapes.
- DreamWorks' Puss in Boots. In Shrek 2, the setting is against a take on Arthurian England, so viewers assumed Puss was Spanish. In this prequel, it shows he came from somewhat of an amalgam of Spain and Mexico.
- Subverted in one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures when the Enforcers go to Pamplona, and can't remember what the town is famous for. Hak Foo suggests that it's famous for its paella, and Ratso asks if that's the thing you hit with clubs at a birthday party to get candy. Valmont points out that it's a piñata, and that they're in Spain, not in Mexico.
- Bizarrely, The Road to El Dorado casts Anglo-American/British actors as the Spaniards and (mostly) Latino actors as the Indians.