Migrating to the United States is a challenge in itself – there’s language challenges, cultural challenges, and more importantly, identity challenges. And for those who do migrate and carry the notion of succession through means of cultural suppression, therein lies the biggest challenge. Once this notion plays into one’s psyche and emotional well-being, it can definitely distort the perception of self – creating a breeding ground for self-hatred. (i.e. Sammy Sosa and his alleged skin bleaching tendencies)
Taking these social cues and approaching it with comedic spin, is the brilliance behind Youtube’s spoof kings Michael Diaz and Oscar Martinez, also known as Juan Bago and “O.” The duo first gained notoriety with their music video “Pan Con Queso” – a spoof based on rapper Wiz Khalifa’s 2010 smash hit “Black and Yellow.” The video touched upon surface stereotypes with universal Latino family themes – hence the “pan con queso” title – a common thread amongst most Latino homes. The video went viral and became a web sensation within a matter of days getting a million plus hits on Youtube. It propelled so much success that it got airtime on MTV3, Mun 2 and Telemundo’s entertainment news program “Al Rojo Vivo.”
Not wanting to lose momentum, the boys have been actively working on creating videos with contemporary resonance. They’ve hilariously tackled the latest trend of hookah smoking with their catchy tune “Hooked on Hookah.” They then tackled the 2012 presidential election with their cunningly funny “Vote Right?!” The video was a clever attempt to motivate young Latinos to get out there and vote. All music videos mentioned above can be seen by clicking here.
However, their latest creation entitled “Dominican Problems” (a spoof of A$AP Rocky’s music video “Problems”) takes a much more serious, razor-sharp tone. The scathingly funny video features a young man in his late twenties, seemingly dealing with bouts of self-hatred and internalized challenges of displacement. We viewers are then saturated with recognizable stereotypes – therefore, explaining the mental torments of our protagonist. However, Juan Bago and O‘s approach is not meant to ridicule nor bash, but rather to enunciate these stereotypes and labels that are imbued in depth and dignity.
Its illusive message is meant to shed light on the disadvantages of not embracing one’s dual-culture personality and the serious consequences it can have on one’s self-esteem – especially a community that is as large and as diverse as Latinos. Their purpose is to unify Latinos by giving them a sense of who they are – and in retrospect, giving them a positive sense of pride.
The boys are currently working on a new webseries entitled “Bodega Chat.” a digital video series that features guests filmed in and around their local bodegas. Featured guests mostly work in the entertainment industry – as they discuss their achievements, projects and the flavors of their community. These two gentlemen definitely bring a fresh perspective to comedy that is sure to keep you guessing.
– Roz Baron
Juan Bago and O –“Dominican Problems”