New Moon Chicano Scorecard

First and foremost, I just want to say that I’m not a Twilight-hater. Mariela and I spent hours huddled under an Edward & Bella blanked waiting in line to see a midnight premiere of New Moon. As I get older though it’s getting harder and harder to turn off my critical lens when I watch a film like New Moon. And to be clear: this is a critique of the film New Moon and not the book.

-Representin': Christian Serratos as Angela Weber. While the character of Angela isn’t Latina, Serratos is Mexican-American. Sadly she gets less screen time in New Moon than she does in Twilight.

-Disputed: Taylor Lautner’s ethnic makeup. I have found nothing but contradicting reports and fierce debate on the internet about how (if at all) indigenous he is. Is Taylor Lautner Latino? Partially something that could justify his casting? Good luck on trying to find a definitive answer.

-Gone: Honduran actor Jose Zuniga as Mr. Molina. I was actually relieved not to see this character return. It irritated me that the one Latino character in the first Twilight film was so cheesy and corny. Instead we are left with, uh, no Latino characters.

-Gone: Gregory Tyree Boyce as Tyler Crowley. Tyler was mainly used as comic relief in the first Twilight film and sets up the plot device of Edward rescuing Bella from being hit by a car. All of Bella’s other school friends are back but they decide to dump the one friend that happens to be Black?

-Speaking of which: Let me get this straight, there’s only one Black character in the entire film AND HE GETS KILLED?…For threatening a White woman no less. That shit is ridiculous.

-Face Punch the fake movie-within-a-movie features its characters engaged in a Mexican standoff. Does that count for anything?

-What the fuck is up with Gil Birmingham as Billy Black? In the first Twilight film he broke the stereotype of older indigenous men being stoic and sage and turned the character of Billy Black into a wise-cracking dirty old man. In New Moon he loses all his charm and is back to being stonefaced and stoic for the 30-seconds he is on screen. A damn shame.

-There’s a lot to be said about the different relationship models presented  in New Moon. Of all the questionable shit that goes down in New Moon I was most disturbed that the various acts of patriarchal relationship violence were explained away as being motivated by supernatural urges. Edward being compelled to kill Bella, Sam disfiguring Emily, and Jacob menacing Mike and Bella were all justified as things that come with being a vampire or werewolf. I hella call bullshit; an abusive boyfriend is an abusive boyfriend even if he can turn into a wolf or suck blood. Don’t get it twisted.

-Conclusion: New Moon was a more competently made film than Twilight but a definite step back for Black and Brown peoples alike. I am stunned that Director Chris Weitz violently cleaned house of the only two Black characters without adding anyone to fill the void. I’m not saying it was racist…of fuck it, that shit was super-racist. I said it.

No amount of blatant social injustice will keep people from seeing New Moon or its inevitable sequels. I know I’ll probably be back for Eclipse, if only I didn’t have to look the other way on so many things. Christian Serratos, you’re my beacon of hope, don’t let me down.

"Keep ya head up"

Rio

Skulls of Oakland

The artwork above is by the fascinating and amazing Denise Silva Cortes. I came across it while dropping artwork off for Rachel-Anne Palacios’ Ofrendas Para los Muertos-from Oakland, with love exhibit. I love that as playful as her portrait of Frida is, there’s still a hint of mortality with the skull forming in the smoke of her cigarette. I’ve been following Denise’s work and writing for a while and I’m really looking forward to meeting her at the opening of the exhibit. I’ll be showing four pieces of my own in the show, portraits of my homegirl Rachel.

The reception is next Thursday and I’ll be all up on the scene dipped in Vaseline just like Mickey Avalon. The details are below (and peep the work by Lupe Flores). Hope to see you all there!

7327_190988474255_610344255_3980230_1097298_nAfter dropping off my artwork I met up with Mariela and we wandered the nearby Oakland City Center in search of some lunch. After eating some corporate Mexican food we took some photos before parting ways to go to work.

Now that my own Day of the Dead exhibit is down there are a lot of exciting projects that I can resume working on. Just tonight I’m making new plans with Maya Escobar to continue our Acctiones Plasticas Purikura series. Stay tuned!

Peace,

Rio

Late Nite Swoon

I’m in the midst of writing of a late night session of writing an artist statement, framing prints, uploading photos and mentally preparing to finish deinstalling my Day of the Dead exhibit tomorrow.  I’m throwing a buncha photos up on my flickr page at this very moment, check them out here.

Lately Mariela has been honing her makeup skills and making me sit through countless youtube makeup tutorials. As a result I’ve picked up a good appreciation of creative makeup artistry. That’s why I’m hella fo’ sho’ swooning over youtube user toffeeappleleaves for her makeup tribute to my favorite superhero and comic book character of all time: Rogue.

*Le Sigh* If you know me, you know how iconic and special Rogue is to me. The yellow and green color palette that toffeeappleleaves uses is based on Rogue’s 90’s era costume color scheme (created by artist Jim Lee). This popular look for Rogue was immortalized in Fox’s X-Men the Animated Series and that’s the show she references in the clip above. Her tutorial for creating the look is below.

Okay, enough slacking, I’m gettin’ back to work,

Rio

Beginnings and Endings

It’s four in the morning and I just got home from working a 16-hour shift at work in the service of two different exhibits. If I didn’t love my job I wouldn’t feel as inspired as I do at this very moment. It’s been a great past week; as crazy and exhausted as I am at the moment I feel really good.

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Tonight Acciones Plásticas プリクラ, my collaboration with the amazing Maya Escobar, will be exhibited as part of Cultural Disjuncture at MACLA in San Jose. I’ll be cold lampin’ at the opening alongside Jaime Guerrero and hope to see you all there. The details are below:

CulturalD_placed:Layout 1The Day of the Dead exhibit I co-curated at SOMArts is also having it’s closing reception this Saturday. Our closing reception will take place on Saturday, November 7th at 6:00pm. Admission is free and this will be the last chance for anyone to see the show. More importantly, the night will be a celebration of the life and work of Day of the Dead artist Virginia Benavidez. Virginia was one of the artists in this year’s exhibit and a good friend to many of you. We will have music, food, and a chance to say a few words about Virginia in our theater.

Peace,

Rio

Halloween Report

Halloween 2009 was on a crackin’ this year in the Mission District. Thanks to some last minute makeup and wardrobe assists from Mariela and my Mom, I became Zombie Frida. Even for a flesh-rotten member of the undead community I was quite the hot mess.

Mariela on the other hand looked great as a vampire. We hooked up and haunted the streets of the Mission in search of blood, brains, and candy.

Zombie Frida herself was a character I created a couple of years back for a series of comic strips that I did about raising the undead.

Since I’ve been doing so much about Purikura these days I think I’ll leave you all with something from the motherland. Here is infamous multi-ethnic Japanese adult-film superstar Maria Ozawa taking part in some Halloween Purikura which she posted on her blog.

Peace,

Rio

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mom’s birthday. It’s hard for me to believe sometimes but when my Mom was born we were still in the thick of World War 2.

Above is a photograph of my Mom circa 1978 (I think) taken by her friend Susan Mogul.

Happy Birthday!

Rio