State of Affairs

MOVIES

It’s a sad state of affairs for Raza in film these days. Shit is bleak y’all. I went to the Blockbuster on 16th street after work to rent some Blu-Rays but instead was tempted by two movies on DVD starring my people. I’ve got a soft spot for films in the probably fucked up direct to DVD movies starring Latinos genre. It took all the willpower I had not to rent the copy of Hoodrats 2 staring at me.

Hoochie Mamma Drama
The first movie up is Hoochie Mamma Drama. The story centers around Guera, a sharpied chola who tries to maintain her relationship with two-timin’ Lazy, the local cholo drug dealer. Of all the things done wrong in the movie the scenario is pretty realistic: two homegirls battling it out with each other for the same man without even questioning his responsibility in sleeping with both of them. If there’s anything to really be offended about  it’s that it actually reinforces this logic instead of subverting it.  One of the last lines of dialogue spoken by one of the cholas is “This is stupid, we’re not getting anywhere” and that sums Hoochie Mamma Drama up perfectly.

The most ridiculous part of Hoochie Mamma Drama is gay rapper turned actor Deadlee. I know it’s hard out there for LGBT performers but this is the worst straight-for-pay acting job I’ve ever seen. The only time I actually laughed during Hoochie Mamma Drama was when he busted out with gay porno moves during the first sex scene. Even worse, despite the fact that one of the lead actors is gay the film is stacked with homophobic caricatures and language.

There’s no doubt that Hoochie Mamma Drama is a chola coon show but there’s something almost endearing about its reckless hyperbole. My hat goes off to actress Monique La Barr who stars as Guera. Her performance is so over the top and energetic she’s like a Latina Bruce Campbell (circa the Evil Dead films).

The Cell 2

Next up is The Cell 2. The sequel to the Jennifer Lopez film, The Cell 2 follows psychic investigator Maya Casteneda (Tessie Santiago) as she tracks a serial killer named the Cusp. The killer is infamous for killing his victims and resurrecting them until they can’t stand it any more and beg for a final death. There’s nothing scary or suspenseful about The Cell 2, just the horror of the Cusp’s victims being tortured with misogynistic glee. Watching The Cell 2 is torture in and of itself, you’ll be asking for a mercy killing after a few minutes it. As  Bruce Campbell once said, “You didn’t just commit a crime against me, which was pretty frickin’ huge, you committed a crime against art itself.”

The only real connection this bullshit flick has to the original Cell is that they star Latinas who are tracking down serial killers. The film tries to establish continuity with the first film by starting out with footage from it. This is the biggest mistake The Cell 2 makes, the contrast between the movies is so huge that it sticks with you the whole time you watch it. Being reminded of how slick the first one looks while watching the broke-ass second just makes you want to see Jennifer Lopez do her thing.

There’s just no imagination in the design of The Cell 2. Even on a small budget the visuals are just terrible. Check out this comparison of what it looks like inside the mind of the killer in the first and second films. The backgrounds used in The Cell 2 look like they’re almost all static Photoshop compositions so there’s no excuse for not making it more engaging.

The saddest part of The Cell 2 is that it’s a star vehicle for Tessie Santiago. During the turn of the century Santiago was one of my favorite actresses. She was the star of Queen of Swords, a syndicated television show that was in the spirit of Xena: Warrior Princess. She played, essentially, a female version of Zorro. I always thought it was subversive that a Latina was playing a Spaniard and not the other way around. Alas when the show was canceled her career stalled, The Cell 2 is her first starring roll since Queen of Swords. Sadly she’s not even imitating J-Lo here, Santiago acts and is made to look  like a bootleg Eva Longoria. I just felt sorry for her, she goes through the whole film looking tired and bored. Heartbreaking.

MUSIC

On her twitter feed Julieta Venegas posted a photo of herself with Mala Rodriguez and Nelly Furtado in a studio. According to her tweets, this holy trifecta is making a song for Furtado’s forthcoming Spanish language album.

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This better be one of the best songs of all time or I’m going to be hella disappointed.

On the free download tip is the latest and greatest mixtape from electro hip-hop band Hyper Crush. I’ve written about Hyper Crush and their Latin American singer Holly Valentine before . This new mixtape is a free download so check it out! Click on the image below and “save link as”.

TOYS

Culture Clash’s Herbert Siguenza recently sent me an image of a toy with his likeness that will be coming out to coincide with the movie Ben 10: Alien Swarm. I can’t think of another Latino who’s had an action figure created in their likeness and even though he’s a sneering villain I think it’s a huge step forward. Orale Herbert!

herbert

You can see Herbert in Ben 10: Alien Swarm airing on the Cartoon Network in November of 2009.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My favorite performance artist Ask a Chola has posted a series of photographs from a recent trip to Disneyland. Check out her subversive shenanigans here.

Peace,

Rio

In Shock

I’m stunned an speechless. Michael Jackson was one of my childhood icons and this is a profound loss. Do you remember the time? is my favorite Michael Jackson song but Wanna be startin’ something was my favorite as a kid.

captain eo

While most people point to Michael in his Beat It jacket or Thriller as their favorite incarnation of him, I always loved Captain Eo. My Captain Eo 3D comic book is a childhood treasure of mine. The first time I watched Captain Eo it was with Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya, the show was so magical to me but Richard got motion sickness and threw up afterwards.

There are so many images and sounds that he has left us with and it’s going to take some time to process all of them. I’m still just floored by all of this. Rest in peace, Michael.

Rio

The Art of Ferry Gouw

After reading recent posts at the Mad Decent blog about Major Lazer I’ve become totally enamored of the art of Ferry Gouw. He’s been doing the visual branding for Major Lazer which so far has included album covers, promo graphics, and music videos. On Gouw’s website he describes himself and his work as:

I was born in Indonesia but I’ve lived in London for the past 10 years. I did Art & Design BA at Central St Martins, n did my Masters in Filmmaking at London Film School. I read comics, sometimes try n make em. I make n watch films. I also make music with my band Semifinalists.

Check out some of my favorites below.

Animated gif love!

and finally this dope Yelle piece. I would kill for a print of this one:

If your haven’t seen it already here is the video Gouw directed for Major Lazer’s Hold the Line:

Peace,

Rio

Melanie Cervantes and Dignidad Rebelde


I got a chance to hang out and interview artist Melanie Cervantes about her work, opinions on Post-Chicano art, and her upcoming exhibit Dignidad Rebelde – Art in Action at Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco. The video clip above is Melanie talking about the exhibit. The opening reception takes place tonight and I’ll be there in full force to support it. Come by and say hi.

THE INFO

Contrabando (Smuggled Goods) is a fresh new three-part exhibition series that invites individual artists or artist collectives to “move into” the gallery space to create a dynamic studio and public meeting place. Part 1 will feature Dignidad Rebelde, a Bay Area artists/activists collective composed of Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes. Based out of a print collective in Oakland, Dignidad Rebelde is committed to producing and distributing screen-printed political posters and fostering a resurgence in the screen printing medium for social change.

Exhibitions Dates: Sat, June 20th – Saturday, August 15th

OPENING RECEPTION
Date: Friday, June 19, 2009
Time: 7:30pm – 10:30pm
Location: Galería de la Raza
Street: 2857 24th St
City/Town: San Francisco, CA

The Unbearable Silence of Sabrina Perez

sccchola01

My most recent Blu-Ray purchase has been the first season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I’ve been really digging the series and I think Summer Glau is a brilliant actress in it. As much as I like the series it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the monolithic portrayal of Latinos throughout the first season. Every single Latino male has been shown to be a lying, backstabbing cholo. I mean that literally, our ONLY onscreen depictions are as ruthless cholos in the show. The message of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is clear: Latino men are good resources for illicit goods and contraband but can’t be trusted. Even worse, all but one of them ends up killed by the end of the season. There’s only one Latina in the first season and her role in the show is just as simple but her context is a lot more complex.

The most fascinating aspect of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the presence of Chola; a (what else) chola who comes to the aid of Sarah Connor on multiple occasions throughout the first season. Chola is no ordinary chola though, in the first season she is totally silent and easily the most mysterious figure in the first season. There have been a lot of discussions online speculating that Chola’s stoic silence means she’s a terminator. In the commentary track of the season finale the episode’s Director implies that Chola is not a terminator by stating her motivation is simply to “avenge her homies.” Ultimately her silence serves to exoticize her. A silent, nameless Chola is more mysterious than Sad Girl talking about what nail salon she got her ghetto claws done at. Chola is the twisted, idealized antithesis to the portyals of Latinas and Black Women on reality television shows: silent, friendly, and doesn’t react to or question the violence around her. It’s different, I’ll give the series that much, but just as harmful and stigmatizing.

Chola is played by actress Sabrina Perez. Looking at Sabrina Perez’ IMDB page reveals that she’s been cast in five roles thus far in her career. Three of those five roles don’t even give her a name and simply refer to her as the archetype she portrays; they speak for themselves: Chola, Gang Girl, and Assassin.

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The question is: Are Latino and Latina performers who continually play these roles victims or villains? Is Sabrina Perez simply paying her dues while following her dreams to be a successful actress or is she a “Good German” not willing to question the implications of the roles she takes? At what point do we hold performers accountable for taking the meager roles that are offered to them by the mainstream entertainment industry?

The only other critical writing I’ve been able to find on Chola is this insightful post by a writer that goes by FengLiAn. I really am enjoying Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and I do hope Sabrina Perez can break through the glass ceiling she is being crushed against, for the sake of everyone stigmatized by her roles if not her. Keep ya head up Ms. Perez.

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Peace,

Rio

9th Anniversary

9th AnniversaryToday marks nine incredible years of love, lovin’ and everything in between. When we met I had just turned 20 and Mariela was 19 years old; we were both students at CCSF. Now we’re both 29 year olds navigating life as professionals in fields that we both feel passionate about. *Whew* the times they are a changin’! As Nelly Furtado once said, my love grows deeper every day.

To commemorate the occasion I created the above graphic. I’ve also been experimenting with animated gifs recently in Photoshop. The images below represent my first baby steps in making my own animated gifs. They’re labors of love that will give you seizures if you stare at them too long. Enjoy!

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riosheadanim

Peace (and love),

Rio

Comics of Anniversaries Past

To mark every anniversary Mariela and I have had, I usually make some sort of graphic work for Mariela to commemorate the occasion. To be honest, each of those graphics from anniversaries past have fallen into the category of “old work” that makes me cringe when I look back at them. I’m really happy with my recent work but now my art from the recent past is not holding up like it once did.

Regardless of how I feel about my graphic work I am still really proud of the various comics I’ve done to commemorate our love. Below are a few highlights from the last two years

A tribute to our love (and Pinky & The Brain)

A tribute to our love (and Pinky & The Brain) Click to see full size

Click to see it full size

Click to see if full size

Click to see it full size

Be awesome to each other,

Rio

Ask a Chola at the Chicana/o Biennial

The opening reception of MACLA’s Chicana/o Biennial was a great success.Thanks to all my peoples who made it out. To see my photos from the event click here.

Once again the info on the show is…

2009 Chicana/o Biennial

Exhibition: June 5 – August 8, 2009

Address:
510 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113

tel: (408) 998-2783
fax: (408) 998-2817

Gallery Hours:
Wednesdays & Thursdays 12 noon —7pm
Fridays & Saturdays 12 noon—5pm

There’s an artist talk that I’ll be a part of on Friday, August 7th at 7:oopm. Hope to see you all there.

Peace,

Rio

The 2009 Chicana/o Biennial

A print of my most recent portrait of Ask A Chola will be included as part of the 2009 Chicana/o Biennial at MACLA in San Jose, CA.

Exhibition: June 5 – August 8, 2009

Opening Reception: Friday June 5, 8:00 – 10:00pm

Book signing: Friday June 5, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Join us in celebrating the second publication of the A Ver: Revisioning Art History series, highlighting the artistic contributions by Yolanda M. López.

Artist talk: Friday August 7, 7:00pm

Join selected artists for a gallery walkthrough and an engaging conversation about their work.

MACLA

510 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113

tel: (408) 998-2783
fax: (408) 998-2817

Gallery Hours:

Wednesdays & Thursdays 12 noon —7:00pm
Fridays & Saturdays 12 noon—5:00pm