Women sporting fake smiles who won’t talk to anyone unless it’s that doctor that will be able to fund her high maintenance lifestyle. Men who care only about their appearance and the latest cars. That couple neck deep in debt caused by trying to maintain a higher social status. We can probably say in all honesty that we know a few people like this: very shallow, giving priority to the material things in life; sacrificing their own dignity and self worth for just so that they can appear to be something that they’re not. Sadly it’s this mindset that keeps one from becoming a person of actual substance. This very topic is covered in Ruben Blades’ classic “Plastico.”
Ruben Blades is mostly known as a singer/songwriter from the Golden Age of salsa, when he was signed to the Fania record label back in the 70s. Most of his songs contain socially relevant messages ranging from taboo subjects like racism in Latin America (Ligia Elena) to imperialism in the Americas (Tiburon). An activist in his own right, Blades has been known to voice his own opinions on many isssues affecting the Latin American community. Blades has a degree in law from the University of Panamá and a degree in international law from Harvard University. In 1994 he ran for president of Panamá receiving 18 percent of the vote in a failed attempt.
In the song Plastico, Blades refers to people that make materialism and high social status a top priority in life and how as a people we need to change that mindset if we are to break negative stereotypes and overall ignorant perceptions about the Latino people and culture. One verse that stands out to me is “…recuerda que el plastico se derrite cuando le da de lleno el sol, si analiza con conciencia, y a lo largo tu veras, que se acaba la indecencia, y al fin triunfa la verdad.”
Basically, he says that we must remember that plastic will melt when the sun shines directly on it. We need to analyze our conscience and eventually we’ll see that truth will triumph over indecency. This song may be well over 30 years old, but its message stands true today more than ever.