It’s not just your level of Spanish. Pop references are everywhere. This is an article for if you are ever at a party or at a crowded Porteño bar, trying to keep up with your local friends or really putting yourself out there and trying to hook up with a local. Everything is going great… until that guy walks in and shifts the conversation to a dialogue with odd references you can’t quite make out. Don’t worry – we’ve got your back.

Laying the Groundwork

From the very beginning, and I’m talking early 20th century “very beginning,” the Argentinian film industry was one of the most important in the region. But the most important time was the famous Goden Age, between the ’30s and ’50’s, with a Hollywood-esque industrial production and huge studios like the Argentina Sono Film and Lumiton. 

Argentines were very fond of their cinema and movie stars, but by the mid ’90s, most audiences had grown tired of the same themes being trotted out on screen time and time again (and I hear them: one film covering the dictatorship or Perón’s legacy is enough, but hundreds might be overkill). Not surprisingly, Argentines stopped watching many of the films produced locally (the shame!) preferring the Hollywood blockbusters instead.

Before the thrill of neoliberalism faded, the early ’90s, which were characterized by a general opening in mindset and a flood of foreign media like The Simpsons in Spanish, carved out a sweet spot in the hearts and minds of many an Argentine. Not surprisingly, a good chunk of most pop culture references you will hear come from this bygone era in all its faded day-glow glory.

Don’t worry if you are out of date or haven’t the faintest idea of what the locals are talking about. Here is a set of reference points that is sure to impress the next time the conversation veers into unfamiliar cultural territory. Full disclosure, men in this country tend to reference the following movies more often than women. It’s not that they are bro-y per se, but they do reflect a certain type of situation and humor straight dudes seem to connect with.

Esperando la Carroza

This is a major classic, don’t mess with it, and please go and watch it right now. I mean, stop reading this article – paychecks and bosses be damned… go and watch it. I’ll wait here, don’t worry.

Blown away?! Don’t worry that’s typical.

Some of the most quoted references by Argentines are here like:

  • Mamá, es la hincha pelotas de al ladoMaaaam! It’s the ball buster from next door”
  • Nos cortaron el agua esta mañana. Menos mal que la charlatan de al lado me imita en todo. Yo hago puchero, ella hace puchero, Yo hago ravioles, ella hace raviolesThey cut off water this morning. Lucky for me, the old bag next door copies everything I do. I make a stew, she makes a stew, I cook raviolis, she cooks raviolis
  • Mamá, dice doña Elisa que nos vayamos todos a la mierdaMom, Miss Elisa is telling us to F**k off
  • “¡Qué criatura estúpida, por dios! Such a stupid creature, for crying out loud!

Everything wonderful about this movie can be summed up by this masterpiece of a scene:

Plata Dulce

This is one of the classics that most of us didn’t see, because it’s from the early eighties, and we’re too hip and cool to care. But this for the sake of context it’s a reference on par in popularity with the “Stellaaaa…” from A streetcar named desire.

“¡Arteche y la puta madre que te parió! – Arteche you one son of a bitch!” From Plata Dulce is one of the most beautifully naughty phrases ever muttered by a human being. You don’t trust me? Here:

And if you want to check how big this is, don’t take my word for it, just see these superior and evolved examples of cinema here:

Carne

Isabel La Coca Sarli, is one the most exquisite vedettes to have ever walked the stage on Corrientes. Her curves back in the 60’s and 70’s drove a repressed society crazy. The super soft-core porn movies she was in didn’t hurt either.  Our dads might not have had the “Incognito Window” back then, but they sure had Sarli.

In the film Carne, Sarli is “taken advantage of” inside a truck by several drivers and others to get some money for something, (doesn’t matter, no one cares about the plot apparently). WHen she is done dealing with that she spouts one of the best lines ever at one of her aggressors:

Canalla ¿Qué pretende usted de mi? – Bastard, what do you want from me?

According to a Rolling Stone Magazine article, this phrase never actually occurred during the film. Paradoxically, nobody here seems to care and the phrase is still getting thrown around.

Do your local pals ever say stuff like “A comeeeerla”, “Pero si es una nena” or “Yo soy muy cagón”. If they do, you might want to switch to friends who don’t base their entire repertoire on the work of Guillermo Francella.

La Fuga

Not much to say other than this is the story of a boy who is imprisoned and one night some of the prisoners want to rape him. Is anybody else noticing a theme here?! Anybody?

The infamous phrase: “¡Guardia, Guardia! – Guard, Guard!” has been loved it since the first time we saw it on screen.

Ok, I couldn’t find the clip online, but this is pretty much accurate:

And this one:

 I think that I made my point clear, but this next one is too cute:

Ok. Only in Argentina would a kid acting out a scene containing sex crimes be considered cute, but cultural relativity is a thing and you have full permission to laugh thanks to the rules of productive cultural exchange.

9 Reinas

There are several ways to get punched in the face in Argentina. One is by cutting the line while waiting for a colectivo, another is to publicly admit that you didn’t see (or thoroughly enjoy) 9 Reinaswhich has to be one of the best films ever made in this country. Someday I’ll explain it to you in detail, but right now, let’s go for the quotes you need to know:

¿Te das cuenta? Putos no faltan, lo que faltan son financistas – Do you get it? There are plenty of f*gs, what we need are more financiers

So there you go. You are one step closer to passing for an Argentine.

You’re welcome.