The "españoladas", culture or parady?
The dictionary of the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy) defines the word “españolada” as an “action, spectacle or literary work that exaggerates the Spanish character” and for many, its origin dates back to the nineteenth century. In the era of romanticism, many authors like Dumas or Merimée described a Spain of bandits, bullfighters and sensual gypsies…“Carmen” springs to mind?
There are even authors who see certain “españolada” elements in “El Quijote”: the comic idealism of the protagonist against the shameless pragmatism of the rest of the characters would be a good representation of the Spanish character, always torn between utopia and reality.
Nowadays no one doubts that Merimée’s story and Cervantes’ novel are classics: one deals with universal themes such as fatality and desire; the other is our greatest literary treasure. So if “españolada” does not necessarily mean something is bad…why is the term so negative for us?
Basically this is because the term ended up being exclusively designated to Spanish films full of themes such as the villager lost in the city, the “macho ibérico” or the mythologizing of the voluptuous Swedish. It was the era of the dictatorship and censorship forced films to exalt certain values and portray superfluous topics: over time they became endearing comedies, with a few exceptions, and they are a reminder of a time in our history we have fortunately overcome.
Interestingly there has been a revival of this sort of film in the name of “vintage” fashion. Yes, it is a revival from a more innocent point of view linked to a culture of fun almost like in other countries with B movies or comedies such as “Desmadre a la americana” (National Lampoon's Animal House). In the end it turns out that Spain is not so different.