Skip to content
Home » Blog (hidden) » Spanish at the Golden Globes

Spanish at the Golden Globes

In this clip from the 2012 Golden Globes, the TV series Modern Family is presented with an award, and the legitimacy of Spanish and intelligibility of Spanish speaking actors is negotiated.

These are the key moments to look for:

1- In the 2012 Golden Globes ceremony, Ricky Gervais starts out by praising the talent and beauty of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, the next presenters, but ends up questioning whether they are interesting since “I don’t understand what the fuck—– bleeped out– they’re saying. ”

2- In response, Banderas launches into a Calderón de la Barca [17 th century] poem in VERY fast and VERY Castilian Spanish, which Selma [who is Mexican]  interrupts with “It’s OK Ricky, I don’;t understand him either.” This can be interpreted [by those who don’t know her background] as meaning that her Spanish is not that fluent, OR, that his variety is unintelligible to Mexicans.

3- When Sofia Vergara accepts the award [for Modern Family], she seems to save the day by thanking Antonio and Selma in Spanish [heavily applauded], which on the one hand is understood as thanks for presenting the award, but also thanks for the Spanish spoken. She goes on to say that their thanks will be bilingual since it is an international award, and the producer at her side begins by translating her words exactly. But he soon switches to saying stuff that portrays her as a calculating sexpot who seduces producers/casting agents, ending with “they’re the greatest lovers I’ve ever had”.


What do your students think about this humor? Do they see it as a step forward that Spanish was spoken on stage?

This could be taught as a very interesting example of Foucault’s order of discourses (control of conditions of production/circulation/power of discourses):  Gervais’s observation was censured by TV (so the sensitivity of a part of the audience was taken into account);  it was assumed that English is the only language of the event. When Spanish appears, the transgression is neutralized with humor (Salma’s comment “I don’t understand him, either”; the frivolous translation of Sofia Vergara’s thanks).

Also, the exclusion and the way people are constructed as not legitimate speakers (members) in this kind of event (international or  local?) , could be an interesting topic here: in these glocal events, could different linguistic markets clash?

Issues of dialect, accent, nationality, etc: Is Gervais (from Britain) aware of the social implications of his jock in American society (Latinos in Britain do not have the same social position); Does Banderas realize that with reciting Calderon, he is legitimating a variety of Spanish which is not in use at the USA? Spanish people do not realize quite often that their accent is Hispanic, not “European” Spanish in the USA (in Britain there is different value assigned to it), and the social meanings it entails.