As soon as Mildred Patricia Beana was publicly identified as the mother of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate son, there was one place news organizations and curious gawkers could go for a glimpse into the housekeeper’s previously-private life: Her MySpace page, seemingly set up in October 2008 and replete with photos of her, her son, and various unidentified others.
In the days after, as the press brouhaha grew, commentators wondered why, unlike other private citizens thrust into the spotlight, Baena didn't shut it down or at least lock it from prying eyes.
Not the least among those doing the wondering: Latinos who are making the page a gathering place where they can go to defend the erstwhile Schwarzenegger-Shriver staffer, and offer her—in English, Spanish, or sometimes both in a single post—words of encouragement or advice.
It’s impossible to tell, of course, which of the MySpace pages’ hundreds of thousands of visitors are definitively Latinos.
But comments on MySpace often are accompanied by full names, self-portraits and links to the comment-makers’ own MySpace pages, and judging by these, those posting are disproportionately Latino—and very, very protective.
When someone calling herself “The Happy Newlywed” wrote, “I cannot believe that with all of the beautiful women in Hollywood, he slept with THAT creature,” commentors were quick to defend. Some complimented her looks (“El sabor y encanto latino no se puede comparar con ninguna otra raza”), or sent soothing messages about not listening to the negativity. Others returned fire with fire.
“Its his father thats the pig!,” wrote someone going by the name Sade.” I'm sure Arnold is lying about how it all went down as he has been lying for 14 years! He was probably forcing her to have sex with him to keep her job!”
To another, similar post by someone going by SKR, a poster by the handle Claudia Fernandez wrote, “Get life SKR LOSER!! and Arnolds ex would never even look at you. this lady seems down to earth and nice.”
Of course, there were some recriminations by Latinos, at least one in Spanish. But overall, the tone was of a community protecting its own, despite her transgression.
Accusations of gold-digging were returned by socio-economic commentary about the relative position of a maid to her employer. “She was a maid, from another country,” wrote ‘Diana.’ “How he must have made her feel to think that a man of his stature would sexually desire his hired help.”
Posters were especially virulent in responding to the inevitable intimations that Baena was undocumented and looking to cement her citizenship with Arnold’s child (never mind that an undocumented housekeeper in the California governor’s house is one of the few scenarios more unlikely than the present one--and that it's Arnie who may have once been undocumented).
Many others offered advice, from the financial (Oscar I. Lopez: “write your own book HAUNTING TERMINATOR and you will be rich!”) to the spiritual. “One thing I would do is apologize to Maria,” wrote ‘Diana’ after suggesting a tell-all book. “She deserves an apology and she deserves to hear it from you. After all, you remained in her home while you were carrying her husband's child. Ask for forgiveness.”
Many others implored her to stay focused on her son, and “be the great mother you’ve always been.”
The last oft-repeated piece of advice? As ‘Ana’ wrote: “Patty close your page and your pictures you are giving the world.”
Sometime between yesterday evening and this morning, someone finally paid attention.