Friday, August 29, 2008

Baby Giant Panda!!

It's Friday so nothing too heavy:

A giant panda cub has been born - the first in 20 years to be successfully bred in Japan through artificial insemination.

video

You know there is something wrong with my ass because I couldn't stop laughing for like 10 minutes after I saw this. That is the scariest baby animal ever! It looks like something out of Rosemary's Baby or something, I was rolling!

Enjoy the weekend mi gente!

*Tip of the fitted cap to Guanabee

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Los Republicanos: part tres (please make it stop!)

Somebody needs to stop him. Not only has it come out that Obama turned Daddy Yankee's sorry ass down and that's why he endorsed McCain (read the story from Politico here), but now he's continuing with the farce and performing at the Republican National Convention! Que Pendejo!

El Cangri is going to perform at the Fiesta Americana Concert as part of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 1st.

According to a press release from the Hispanic Leadership Fund:

Approximately 3000 convention delegates and special guests are expected to attend, including members of Minnesotas rapidly growing Hispanic community.

This event will showcase the Hispanic community and demonstrate a clear message of support for key issues such as tough, but fair immigration reform, free trade in the Americas and prosperity through ownership. This event will also allow for an opportunity to highlight sharp policy differences between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama regarding these issues, and will kick off Convention week in great style.

Headline artist Daddy Yankee, chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, is a rising star in Reggaeton a music genre he helped create. In 2008, he won Billboard Latin Music Awards for Album of the Year and Reggaeton Album of the Year.

Throughout his career, Daddy Yankee has been involved in philanthropic activities and shown support for key issues affecting the Hispanic population. At a recent event with Senator McCain in Arizona, Daddy Yankee said: I am here endorsing Senator McCain because I believe in his ideals and his proposals to lead this nation. And like I said before, he has been a fighter for the Hispanic community, and I know that for me personally, I chose him as the best candidate because he has been a fighter for the immigration issue.(Click Here for full release)

And now Fat Joe is weighing in on the matter and saying that DY is a SELL OUT!

"I opened the newspaper and got sick to my stomach," Joe continued. "I felt like I wanted to vomit when I seen that. The reason why I called him a sellout is because I feel he did that for a [publicity] look, rather than the issues that are affecting his people that look up to him. How could you want John McCain in office when George Bush and the Republicans already have half a million people losing their homes in foreclosure? We're fighting an unjust war. It's the Latinos and black kids up in the frontlines, fighting that war. ... We over here trying to take the troops out of Iraq and bring peace. This guy immediately wants war. If not with Iraq or Afghanistan, he'll start a new one with Iran. I feel real disgusted that Daddy Yankee would do that. Either he did that for a look, or he's just not educated on politics."

Say hello to the next boricua millionaire reggaeton/hip-hop beef. Check out the full story at MTV News

Damn, these are tough times mi gente. To many this only reinforces two things: 1) Latin@s are racist so they won't vote for Obama, and 2) the myth that all Latin@s are republican (and that is definitely a myth if you look at the Pew Institute's recent report)

Don't believe the hype like Raquel Rivera says: "Not all Latinos support Abuelo Yankee"


*Tip of the fitted cap to Blabbeando for breaking this telenovela worthy story!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Speaking of Homoeroticism...

I know this is a little old, but given the earlier post about "No Homo" and homosociality and homoeroticism in Hip-Hop it seemed appropriate. So I told you all about Laurance Ralph's panel presentation at the Race, Sex, Power conference, and one of the points he made is the fact that often hip-hop marketing will take play with homoeroticism in order increase profitability. He spoke about the fact that when you see 50 cent without his shirt on, that is marketing to men (gay and straight) as much as it is directed at women.

To demonstrate this point I present Lil Wayne's Strapped Condom ads...



This one eventually got pulled because of the way that it was being coded as queer. There are a lot of visual codes of queerness in this add from the cop bending Wayne over the hood of a car (a very common fantasy that Wayne actually talks about in "Mrs. Officer", but with a "lady cop" instead of a male officer), to the tag line "Go down strapped" (um, hello?).

On hip-hop message boards people were saying that they couldn't believe that the people that made these ads didn't catch the blatant homoeroticism in these ads, but whats to say they didn't? Yes the ad was pulled and replaced by a more benign ad (see below), but maybe that was part of it.



The ads have queer visual cues and innuendos that are very easily accessible to young queer men. Even the new ad still relies the physical interaction between Wayne and a male officer. After criticisms that the previous ad was "too gay" it would make sense for the male cop to be replaced by a female officer, but then the ad wouldn't be effective. The new ad is able to be read by multiple audiences and can be extremely effective in promoting safe sex among youth of different genders and sexual orientations. Bravo for latent homoeroticism.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

March for RBD?!

In the wake of the racist and inhumane ICE raids that occurred in Mississipi and resulted in the arrest of 350 people, people are taking to the streets...for RBD?!

What is wrong with people? The ICE raids are going pretty much unnoticed. And instead of mobilizing against the inhumane conditions that Latino/a im/migrants are subject to in this country young Latinos/as are marching to convince RBD not to break up.

I was almost sick with I saw this on Blogamole this afternoon. We are living in troubled times mi gente.

Los Republicanos: part duex

Okay, so I've had some time to think about this whole Daddy Yankee endorsing John McCain fiasco and my take is McCain might have just shot himself in the foot and here is why...

McCain is obviously trying to appeal to the Latino/a vote by appearing with El Cangri and accepting his endorsement, but chances are DY's endorsement will actually turn off some Latino/a voters, particularly the kind of Latino/a voter McCain wants to reach

Reggaeton is an extremely contested genre within the Latino/a community. More than any other musical genre, reggaeton truly highlights the the complexities of nationality, race, class, gender and generational division within the Latino/a community. Reggaeton is very often seen as something that is either strictly Puerto Rican, or more broadly Caribbean. Already there has been push back to having DY be the supposed voice of the Latino/a community because he is seen as representing Puerto Rican interests. Many people have also pointed out that DY can't even vote for McCain so his endorsement is irrelevant (which is true but it's bogus that people aren't talking about the fact that that's because Puerto Rico is a colony).

The reason why DY's endorsement might really hurt McCain is because of people's perceptions of El Cangri and reggaeton. Although claims over reggaeton's ownership are now fought over, during the 1990's reggaeton sparked a culture war in Puerto Rico over issues of race, sex, taste, and class. Reggaeton was seen as cafre, a term which is highly racialized and classed and denotes low culture. Reggaeton was seen as too Black and too American because of its close association to hip-hop, and therefore inauthentically Latino/a. It was seen as music that was devoid of culture and little more than a copycat of hip-hop when it first came out. It was also highly sexualized and suggestive with its visible trademarks being aggressive lyrics and perreo dancing. Not to mention, reggaeton was born out of the caserios (projects) and was initially funded by the drug game, which only added to the moral outcry against the genre. Reggaeton culture was immediately and vehemently denounced by the conservative and Christian segments of Puerto Rican society as crass and indecent. Although, it is extremely popular and much more sanitized today, reggaeton still maintains its association (real and imagined) to money, drugs, violence, and sex in the minds of many Latinos/as and Americans alike. It is that association that many Latinos/as, particularly those who tend to vote republican, are trying to distance themselves from. That is where McCain's plan backfires.

Daddy Yankee does not represent a performance of Latinidad, that many conservative Latinos/as feel comfortable with. I think the unease around Daddy Yankee's endorsement has to do with the fact that he actively and aggressively markets himself as de la calle and as a gangsta. Reggaeton and Daddy Yankee represent a version of Latinidad which is raced and classed that some Latinos/as want to distance themselves from. Rather than addressing the social realties that reggaeton speaks to and represents, it remains easier for certain segments of the Latino/a community to dismiss reggaeton and the culture around it as an abberation of Latinidad. It's crazy because in a way this whole Daddy Yankee - McCain thing made me think about the way's in which Latinos/as are climbing over each other for a piece of that Americano Dream. At whose cost are Latinos/as representing themselves as idealized American citizens?

Crazy as it may sound McCain is right Daddy Yankee is "an American success story" (ugh), but he may not represent "an American success story" that conservative Latino/a voters are ready to embrace. Guess McCain should have studied Leslie Sanchez's cringe-inducing Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other a little closer because now he has a "Reggaeton Problem".

Monday, August 25, 2008

Music Monday 8.25.08: El Cangri endorses McCain

Today is a sad day mi gente, it is official, Daddy Yankee has endorsed John McCain. Check out CNN.com's coverage of this absurdity...

video

I don't have anthing to say...I'm too depressed. Check out the my first post & comments about DY and McCain: Los Republicanos. Let me know what you think what this means for the presidential race, the Latino/a vote and reggaeton.

Special thanks to Obed for passing along the clip!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Brief and Wonderous Life of No Homo

Dipset's Juelz Santana coined the ubiquitous term "No Homo" in 2003's "Santana's Town" when he proclaimed "no homo but they cocking them/Four-fos and glocks and them." 5 years later and "No Homo" is still going strong and is practically a movement onto itself (especially if you've been around teenage boys at all in the last 5 years). People have been trying to understand the "No Homo" phenomenon and now Hip-Hop blogger Jay Smooth of illdoctine.com is weighing in on the matter. Jay recently released a new clip called "A Beginners Guide to No Homo" where he attempts to breaks down the origin and meaning of the phrase "No Homo," for those who may have been living under a rock. Check out the clip...


As always Jay Smooth is funny as hell and does an excellent job pointing out just how stupid and out of control the "No Homo" phenomenon has gotten in both hip-hop culture.

While I agree with Jay Smooth's points, I definitely think that their is more to the "No Homo" phenomenon than meets the eye. The phrase is often used to demonstrate hip-hop's rampant homophobia, and while I agree that saying "No Homo" every five seconds might qualify as homophobic, I think it is more complex than that and deserves serious scholarly interest and attention. I think it is interesting to consider the time frame when the phrase "No Homo" really gained popularity in hip hop culture. In 2003 and particularly 2004 with the release of J.L. King's On the Down Low, black men and their sexuality became subjects of national inquiry. Perhaps, "No Homo" gained momentum as a form of backlash against this inquiry. That doesn't make "No Homo" any less homophobic, but I think it gives us an appropriate context in which to consider the popularity of the phrase "No Homo" among young Black and Latino men involved in hip hop culture

Oprah and J.L. King basically set up a witch-hunt to smoke out brothers on the DL, offering paranoid girlfriends, wives, and causal observers 10 ways to spot a man on the DL. Check out J.L. King's website, breeding suspicion and fear is his bread and butter.


At the height of a cultural moment when anything could be used to prove that you're on the DL, the development of a defense mechanism like "No Homo" seemed almost inevitable. Throw in all the time, money, and marketing going into creating hypermasculine imagery, and the almost exclusively male atmosphere in hip-hop and there you have it..."No Homo."

There are actually some scholars doing interesting work on homoerotism and homosociality within hip-hop culture. I saw two excellent panel presentations at the Race, Sex, Power: New Movements in Black and Latino/a Sexuality conference at University Illinois-Chicago this past April.

Antonia Randolph, Assistant Professor of Black American Studies at University of Delaware, presented a paper entitled “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”: Managing Homosocial Intimacy Through Speaking Homophobia In Hip-Hop Culture, that explored hip-hop culture's possessive investment in Lil Wayne and Baby's heterosexuality and (hyper)masculinity.


Randolph argued that despite evidence that might point to a homosexual relationship between rappers Lil Wayne and Baby, the hip-hop community and segments of the Black community cannot afford to cast aside these two successful young Black men from New Orleans and are actively attempting to recoup the duos heterosexuality and masculinity. What is important is not whether Baby and Lil Wayne are or are not in a sexual relationship, but the way that the hip-hop community, more so than the two rappers, are invested in protecting Baby and Lil Wayne's heterosexuality in order to deploy them as "positive" and "successful" role models of Black masculinity.

Laurence Ralph, a Ph.D. student in the department of anthropology at the University of Chicago, presented a conference paper entitled Out of the Closet, in the Club with Kells: Homophobia and Homoeroticism in Hip-hop.


Ralph's presentation explored homoerotism in R. Kelly's lyrics particularly in his song "I'm a Flirt," featuring rappers T-Pain and T.I. Ralph argued that what the song demonstates is a climate of oneupmanship and male compitition in which men are the objects of attention and women serve as the conduits for that attention. For instance, he argued that T.I.'s lyrics where he describes how and what he will do to another man's woman serves as a homoerotic moment where T.I. is inviting other men to recognize and admire his sexual prowess. T.I. is demonstrating that prowess not for the benefit of his female sexual partner but for an unknown male spectator. Many times in hip-hop's more sexualized lyrics we see that women are not the targets for those lyrics, but instead they are often directed at other men.

I think that by moving away from a position that solely critiques hip-hop for being homophobic, misogynistic and heterosexist, we can see the ways in which alternative gender norms and sexualities are performed in hip-hop. Randolph and Ralph's work make way for productive conversations and analysis of queer agency within hip-hop while also allowing us to critique the things that need critiquing.

Does anyone else know anybody who is doing interesting work on queerness, homoeroticism, or homosociality in hip-hop?

In the meantime, enjoy this clip from Boondocks, that lampoons the unspoken homoeroticism in hip-hop ...

video

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alegría bomba e' at Centro Gallery

Alegría bomba e'
An exhibition by Carmen Ayala

On view Monday, August 4 to Friday, October 17, 2008

Reception on Thursday, September 4, 2008 6 - 8pm
Gallery Hours:
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday, 9 am - 6 pm
Wednesday, 9 am - 8 pm
Friday & Saturday, 12 pm - 5 pm

For more information check out the Centro Gallery website

CALL FOR PUERTO RICAN ARTISTS - COMITE NOVIEMBRE

2008 POSTER DESIGN

PURPOSE
Each year, Comité Noviembre commissions a Puerto Rican artist to design the annual poster to promote and inform the public about Puerto Rican Heritage Month and to create an artistic expression of the annual theme. The poster is distributed throughout New York, New Jersey and the tri-state area and it is the cover of the annual Journal Calendar of Events. The CN poster is in high demand by teachers and educators and the community and become collector’s items because of it limited edition status.

THEME
The annual theme is developed with the understanding that beyond celebrating our heritage, it must help to motivate, mobilize and empower our community around critical concerns. This year’s theme: Live your Culture?!Vive Boricua!, challenges us to take ownership of our culture and heritage. Being Puerto Rican is not just on special days, or months, but every day of our lives. Everyday as a community, we contribute to the fabric of this city, state and nation. The theme addresses the importance of our achievements as a community and the impact it has had and will continue to have on society. The theme seeks to challenge us to learn about our pioneers, feel proud of who we are and where we come from and commit ourselves to promote and teach others about our culture, traditions, heroes and the great contributions Puerto Ricans have made to this country.

ELIGIBILITY
• Artist must be Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent.
• Artist must be able to work with members of CN towards the creation of the final piece.
• Artist must be able to work under tight deadlines.
• Artist must be present at unveiling of Poster at CN kick-off event in late October
• Artist must write a description of the poster connecting his visual concept to CN’s theme

GUIDELINES
• Artist must submit the following information:
• A complete full color, 24? x 36? concept portraying artistic expression of the theme for the poster.
• Bio/Resume
• Address, phone, cell and e-mail address
• Examples of previous work. Please do not send framed work. Work will NOT be mailed back, but you can arrange for pick up.
• Emailing/Electronic submission of work is preferred.
• All information must be submitted at the same time by: Wednesday, September 10, 2008
• Finalist will be notified by Friday, September 12, 2008.
• Finalist will be interviewed on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 between the hours of 6-8 pm., at El Museo del Barrio in Manhattan.

COMPENSATION
• $1,000 stipend for work selected by Comité Noviembre
• The artwork and biography of artist will be printed in the annual Calendar of Events, and other venues such as El diario la prensa and Daily News, if available.
• Poster design will be distributed to schools and organizations for Puerto Rican Heritage Month in November.

PLEASE SEND COMPLETE PACKAGE TO:
LILI SANTIAGO-SILVA, COMITÉ NOVIEMBRE C/O: EL MUSEO DEL BARRIO
1230 5TH AVENUE (AT 104TH STREET) NEW YORK, NY 10029, (212) 660-7132, LSSILVA@ELMUSEO.ORG

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Judd Apatow and the Art of White Masculinity

“That shit is SO fuckin’ homo”

So I finally saw Pineapple Express this weekend and throughout the whole movie the men around me were constantly expressing how “fucking gay” the movie was. I left there thinking about the two very different displays of masculinity I had just witnessed in the movie theater. The men in the audience, who were mostly young men of color in their late-teens/early-twenties, were attempting to (re)affirm their masculinity through homophobic and sexist comments in response to the perceived lack of masculinity they saw on the screen. On the screen however the cast of Pineapple Express (most of whom are white men with the exception of Craig Robinson) were celebrating their homosocial (but not homosexual) affection for each other and their outsider status as members of the informal economy. I thought about the ways that homosociality functions not only in Pineapple Express but in Judd Apatow movies generally as a comment on the state of contemporary white masculinity in American society.

For those of you who might not know who Judd Apatow is, he’s the writer and/or producer of many of the successful “Frat Pack” movies including: Pineapple Express, Step Brothers, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Superbad, Knocked Up, Talladega Nights, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Anchorman. He’s was also the Executive Producer of the cult TV show Freaks and Geeks on NBC.


Yeah, he’s that guy.

Critics and audiences alike have wondered whether the characters in Apatow’s films, especially Superbad, might be gay. In Superbad, Seth is so obsessed with dicks that he used to compulsively draw them as a kid and talks about them non-stop throughout the entire film. Towards the end of the film Evan and Seth share a "tender moment" where they exchange “I love you’s” and Evan says he wants to go scream from the rooftops that he loves Seth. Those “tender moments” have become a staple in Apatow’s films and Pineapple Express is no exception. At one point in Pineapple Express Danny McBride’s character tells James Franco’s characters that he’s happy they’re best friends and continues by saying “I want to be inside you.”

I don’t think Apatow’s films say anything about sexuality that is specifically homosexual or homophobic, but I do think his films rely on homosociality to demonstrate the ways in which white masculinity has been “wounded” by the feminist, gay, and civil rights movements. In Apatow’s movies we see an entire generation of white men who rely on each other for a sense of validation and understanding, a generation of men who in many ways by refusing to grow-up are able to avoid facing the reality of changing power structures in American society.

In a New York Times article on Apatow Jon Kasdan, who also worked on Freaks and Geeks, said:

“The culture in the last 5, 10 years is one of shame and humiliation, and Judd gets that. Part of the experience of being a man in this postmodern life is humiliation, and wearing it as something to be proud of. This is a true frustration that Judd is expressing in his work, almost a romanticized version of being a schlub.”

What is interesting is that in Apatow movies arrested development is presented as the solution to dealing with the frustration of being a “schlub.” People of color, women and gays (particularly white gay men) have more visibility, if not power, in contemporary society – the question that Apatow’s character are trying to work out is “where does this leave me?” While Apatow’s films don’t directly say it, they certainly show us that white masculinity ain’t what it used to be for the groups of white male friends that the stories center on. Apatow’s characters exist in a universe that is almost completely male and almost completely white, their existence in this world of their own making is like an attempt to recreate the “old boys clubs” of their father’s and grandfather’s generations.

Think of AMC’s critically acclaimed TV show Mad Men, I think it is no coincidence that a show that literally portrays that “old boys club” has generated so much attention and ratings. In Mad Men and Pineapple Express you see the trajectory of white masculinity, Mad Men presents us with the cracks beginning to show in white masculinity’s façade, while Judd Apatow’s movies ask “How the fuck did we end up here … but since we’re here lets get high and play Guitar Hero.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

Music Monday 8.18.08

Talento De Barrio Premier in Puerto Rico
video

Khriz & Angel - Behind the Scenes of "Na de Na"
video

Jay-Z f. Kanye West "Jockin' Jay-Z"

video

Kanye West "Champion"
video

NERD f. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Pusha T - "Everybody Nose Remix"
video

Daddy Yankee "Pose"

video

Crooked Stilo "La Charanga"
video

Daddy Yankee f.
Arcangel, De La Ghetto, Cosculluela, Chyno Nyno, Baby Rasta, Ñejo, Guelo Star, Julio Voltio, Mc Ceja - "Somos de la Calle"
video

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trans Representations on Reality TV

Yesterday US Magazine broke the story that one of the 14 contestants to compete in the new season of America’s Next Top Model is transgender. 22-year old Isis is from Prince George's County, Maryland and will be one of fourteen women competing to become America’s Next Top Model. When asked by US if she wants to be a role model she replied "I like to help people, but I'm here to follow my dreams." GLAAD is already all over this with the president of GLAAD, Neil Giuliano, saying "We applaud Tyra Banks and The CW for making this historic visibility of transgender people possible." The new season debuts September 3rd on the CW.

I haven’t really been following the VH1 show I Want to Work for Diddy, but I certainly have been following the talk about Laverne Cox, a transgender woman competing for a chance to become Diddy’s assistant. Diddy’s reality show also features and openly gay black man named Rob Smith. In a piece he wrote for AfterElton.com he says:

Like they say here, visibility matters, and for both myself and my transgender competitor Laverne Cox, I know that it was very important that we represented who we were openly from the very beginning. But let’s not get too serious. We‘re all aware of how absurd reality television is, and I plan on both injecting a little humor into these recaps and taking every opportunity available to laugh with and at everyone onscreen, not least of all myself.


Smith’s quote brings up interesting points about both Queer visibility and the nature of reality television. The question I have is about the precarious nature of advancing queer visibility through a vehicle such as reality television. At this point it is fair to say that there is nothing real about reality TV. It is pretty well established that most shows are scripted so some extent and I’m sure that I Want to Work for Diddy and America’s Next Top Model are no exceptions. My question is will reality television allow queer folks to represent themselves in a complex and multidimensional way? I’m thinking about the way that the so-called “non-traditional” models in America’ Next Top Model are paraded around like diversity show ponies. The plus-sized models and models with disabilities are defined solely by the factor(s) that sets them apart from the “normal” models, the “real” models.

Increased visibility for marginalized people always presents itself as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, media visibility is incredibly important in terms of its ability to alleviate feelings of alienation and invisibility by creating characters who challenge racial, gender, and sexual norms. On the other hand, marginalized people often remain marginalized on television, never shown or allowed to be fully realized individuals. These portrayals as much as they might knock the door down can also reify the boundaries between normative and non-normative behaviors and people.

I don’t think that there is an easy solution to an obviously complex problem, nor am I trying to take away from the importance of those who are going out on a limb attempting to increase the visibility of marginalized groups. (Let’s be real, you know I’m going to be rooting for Isis and Laverne!) I do think, however, that we need to be aware of the ways in which the media industry shapes how we see our identities reflected back to us. In many ways media and popular culture mediates our understandings of ourselves and others (which is obviously why I think Pop Culture Studies is really important). What do these representations mean to trans people and queers in general? What do they mean to people of color? What do they mean to women? What do they mean to everybody else?

What do you all think? Is there a way, perhaps even a socially just way, to increase the visibility of disenfranchised and marginalized populations in the entertainment industry? Or are we stuck with a Catch-22?

In the meantime check out the Laverne’s amazing website, she is definitely one beautiful and intelligent women and the one to beat on I Want to Work for Diddy according to this clip...

video

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PETA and Oppression on the Border

People who know me know that few things on this planet irk to the extent that PETA does. The tactics that PETA deploy to get their point across are dubious at best and some are downright deplorable. I wrote off PETA after a campaign they ran called “Animal Liberation” where they juxtaposed images of animals in captivity and images of the racial terror that people of African decent in this country faced including chattel slavery and lynching.


A few years prior they ran a series of ads that they had to publicly apologize for that juxtaposed farm animals and Holocaust victims. People of color and Jews have fought to be recognized as humans with dignity after centuries of being compared to animals and PETA has repeatedly disregarded those efforts. PETA has continuously trivialized the effects of racism on people of color and Jews by comparing it to the experience of farm animals.

Instead of talking about the ways that the food processing industry exploits and dehumanizes the people of color and im/migrants who work in plants, PETA chose instead to go the media publicity route and ask the US Border Patrol if they can advertise on the Wall. WTF!?




According to the PETA blog this is how they rationalize their decision:

No matter what your stance is on the highly controversial U.S.-Mexican border fence project, everyone can agree that those who decide to come to the U.S. should be warned about the downside of our nation's meat and milk consumption habits. PETA is warning immigrants that there's much more to worry about than proper documentation. We've written a letter to the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection asking to buy space at each of the nine southwest border sectors for our new ad. Those considering entry will then read this message: "If the border patrol doesn't get you, the chicken and burgers will. Go vegan" (or, in Spanish, "Si no te agarra la migra, te atraparan el pollo y las hamburguesas. Sé vegano"). By leaving behind a far healthier staple diet of vegetables and grains—like rice, beans, corn, peppers, and tortillas—Mexicans and other immigrants will likely find themselves fattening up on the fiberless, fatty, cholesterol-laden U.S. diet, which is linked to heart disease, various types of cancer, and strokes (our nation's three biggest killers) as well as impotence (internationally recognized killer of the mood). PETA's placement of these colorful ads would certainly offset some of the tax dollars that fund the fence. It's a winning solution for the folks at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, immigrants, and farmed animals alike!

After a stunt like this I don’t know how anyone can still say that PETA is a social justice organization. How can they actually offer to help fund the construction of a border wall that is the epitome of American racism and hypocrisy? Obviously, PETA cares more about what im/migrants are eating than their safety or ability to cross in order to alleviate economic conditions in their home country. The fence is a sign of oppression and should not be treated as an advertising and marketing opportunity. Maybe next we can have Coors target the Latino/a im/migrant market with a billboard that proclaims “el cuerpo te la pide!”

I need to stop before I start foaming at the mouth. What do you all think?

via/ Vivir Latino

Raquel Rivera Alert: Two Reggaeton Docs to Watch Out For

One of my favorite scholars, Hip Hop/Reggaeton feminist Raquel Z. Rivera, makes an appearance two new reggaeton documentaries being released this summer.

The first is Straight Outta Puerto Rico: Reggaeton's Rough Road to Glory, a film that traces reggaetons emergence from Puerto Rico’s caserios to becoming one of the most profitable genres in music. Straight Outta Puerto Rico premiered on MUN2 on July 31, 2008 and is now officially on sale at retailers like Amazon.

video

While the documentary is not with out its flaws, mainly the way it sensationalizes the hyper-masculine and sometimes violent atmosphere that birthed the reggaeton movement, I do appreciate the films attempt to historically contextualize the genre. This documentary is also one of the few public venues where the influence of the drug game on reggaeton is given attention and examined, albeit in a very exploitative way. The tag line for the film was basically drugs, sex, and violence, which is why reggaeton comes under so much fire and criticism in the first place. The film is a good starting point but I’m waiting for a documentary that is going to critically examine the economic and colonial realities that affected the development of the genre in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. Please check out Reggaetonica for Raquel Rivera’s take on Straight Outta Puerto Rico.

Rivera, along with another one of my favorite scholars Juan Flores, also appears in the upcoming reggaeton doc U.S.-Latinos: the Reggaeton Factor. Reggaeton Factor, obviously focuses on the impact on the development of U.S. Latino identity and development so it takes a radically different approach to the genre than Straight Outta Puerto Rico. U.S.-Latinos: the Reggaeton Factor was slated to come out this summer but it appears as though it might have been pushed back. I can’t wait to see it when it comes out, in the meantime enjoy the trailer.

video

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Idiot Watch: Spain's Basketball Team

Spain's Basketball Federation released this "good luck" advertisement which depicted the team in their Olympic uniforms pulling at their eyelids in a slant-eyed gesture. Although only photos of the men's basketball team have surfaced the women's basketball team also took similar photos.

The Olympics has always put forth a rhetoric of world unity and understanding as the reason for its existence (rather than acknowledging that it is little more than a global commercial event and sports competition). The Beijing Olympics, and particularly the conduct of the Spanish Basketball Federation, have exposed the hypocrisy of the "Olympic ideal".

Spanish sports have been marred by racist antics like this for the past few years. In November 2004 black English soccer players were subjected to racial slurs and monkey noises during a match in Spain. Before the World Cup Spain's former soccer coach called player Thierry Henry a "black shit." Last year racer Lewis Hamilton was also subjected to racial slurs during the qualifiers for the Barcelona grand prix.

I wonder whether the Spanish Basketball Federations behavior and the continued racist incidents will make the Olympic committee realize that maybe Madrid isn't the best place to host the 2016 games.

Source: The Guardian via/RaceWire

America Ferrera Gets Gangster with Gossip Girl

America Ferrera got caught rolling her eyes at Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 co-star and Gossip Girl Blake Lively on Good Day LA. The two were on the show promoting Sisterhood whe the talk turned to Gossip Girl. Lively started to babel about Gossip Girl and Ferrera had a visible wtf moment. I have to say it was truly priceless.

video

Steven Soderbergh's Che Coming to Lincoln Center

Steven Soderbergh's Che will make its American debut at the The New York Film Festival. The film will be screened in all its four-hour glory.

Tickets for the festival go on sale Sunday, Sept. 7, at 12:00 noon at Avery Fisher Hall, corner of Columbus Avenue and 65th St.; Monday, Sept. 8, online at filmlinc.com; and on Saturday, September 27 at the Ziegfeld Theater, 141 West 54th St.

46th New York Film Festival
September 26 - October 12, 2008
NYFF official website

Monday, August 11, 2008

Music Monday 8.11.08 (The Late Late Edition)

Fido de Alexis y Fido Ties the Knot!













Pitbull "American War"
video
Cubano Pitbull flips Estelle's hit single "American Boy" into a song about Bush and the war in Iraq.


Behind the Scenes: "No Existen Detalles"

video
Last week I brought you Naldo's leaked single of of his forthcoming solo effort Lagrimas de Sangre, "No Existen Detalles" featuring Los Mas Sueltos del Reggaeton Jowell & Randy. Here is a behind the scene look at the making of the video. The video and the song both have a heavy rock influence. Could this be the rise of a new genre...Punketon?


De La Ghetto "Es Facil"

video

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bitch Slapped by Satire

A friend of mine from college recently sent me a link to an AfterEllen.com article about the movie Bitch Slap coming out in December 2008. She asked me for my thoughts and here they are…

I think I might be the wrong person to ask.

Reason being I love gratuitous sex and violence in movies, within reason of course. I loved Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse movies. A woman with a gun for a leg killing military created zombies – count me in! Sexy ladies exacting revenge on a psychopathic-misogynistic-vehicular-homicide-loving Kurt Russell – more please! I loved these films so much that after returning them to Netflix I promptly ran out and purchased them, and then made all my friends watch the films with me repeatedly.

I know what you’re thinking that I’m a horrible queer feminist of color, right? Well, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. And here’s why…

While I hate the way that closet racist and annoying hipster elitist try to use satire to reinforce their supposed superiority and avoid being called bigoted while doing it, I think satire when it’s done right, or at least when it’s read in a critical way, can be extremely subversive. Smart satire can often effectively challenge concepts of power, race, sex, and gender among other things.

There’s a famous example of effective satire that is brought up in Charles Ramirez Berg’s Latino Images in Film: Stereotypes, Subversion, Resistance, known as “stereotypical reversal.” Stereotypical reversal occurs when a movie plays on and invalidates a well-known stereotype by making the viewer confront their own prejudice and bias. The example that Ramirez Berg uses is from the film Flying Down to Rio, when Roger and Belinha are stranded on an island and a bare-chested black man emerges from the surrounding bushes and confronts the couple. Audiences are trained to expect a danger scenario given the location and the fact that the man is black, the viewer might wonder if this “native” is going to kidnap them or harm them in some other way. When the man steps away from the bush it becomes visible that the man is wearing golf slack and shoes, carrying a set of clubs, and when he opens his mouth has a British accent. Turns out they landed in Haiti right next to a country club and the gentleman was looking for a lost ball in the brush when they stumbled upon him. Everyone is made aware of their ignorance and as a result the stereotype is deconstructed.

Satire by its very nature is something that disarms you, most often through comedy or ridicule, and makes you take a hard look at yourself and your fears and biases. The ultimate purpose of satire is to bring about improvement by bringing ones flaws to the surface. So how do B-movies and neo-exploitation films bring about improvement? Well, often they don’t, or at least they don’t at first glance. We’re trained to be passive viewers, but if you’re willing to do the work as a viewer and think critically you’ll see that even the most seemly inane of movies like Death Proof are a comment on systems of power and hierarchy in American culture.

I think a really good recent example is Harold and Kumar. Although on the surface it's your basic stoner buddy comedy, if you scratch below the surface its actually a very intelligent commentary on masculinity, race, sexuality, and leisure time in American culture. That is not to say that the film doesn't have its problems, but I think there are moments in the film that are very smart and valuable

While, I can’t conclusively say whether Bitch Slap is a clever neo-exploitation or just stupid and offensive since it hasn’t come out yet, I’ll leave you with what the Co-writers and directors Eric Gruendemann and Rick Jacobson to say. They call Bitch Slap a “feminist, thinking-man's” exploitation film with a mysterious female narrator who “comments periodically on the folly of humanity, the plight of the human condition and the vagaries of life and love through quoting the likes of Dostoevsky, T.S. Eliot, Sun Tzu and even Buddha.”

Sounds promising.


Check out the trailer and AfterEllen.com article for yourself and let me know what you think.

video

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beyonce's Blanqueamiento

Exhibit A: Beyonce at last night's Kayne West Glow in the Dark Tour concert at Madison Sq. Garden in NYC


Exhibit B: Beyonce looking damn near transparent in her new L'Oreal ad


Now since it is obvious that Beyonce has not undergone a radical skin bleaching procedure from last night's photos (courtesy of Bossip.com) can someone explain to me why the hell L'Oreal photoshopped her to make her look whiter?

I have no problem with Beyonce rocking blonde hair in a L'Oreal ad, but I have serious issues when a cosmetics and beauty conglomerate like L'Oreal deems it necessary to digitally alter her skin tone in order to make her look "appealing."

People have been attacking Beyonce but I don't think it was her decision I think that this was something that L'Oreal did. L'Oreal has denied the allegations, saying to the Associated Press: "We highly value our relationship with Ms. Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L'Oreal Paris altered Ms. Knowles' features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color." They can deny the allegations all they want, and who knows maybe it was some freak accident that occurred at Elle Magazine's printer, but the message and its impact is the same: whiteness is still the benchmark for what is considered beautiful. Someone who views the ad, regardless of whose fault the photoshopping was, will be reminded that women of color will always be expected to conform to hegemonic white conceptions and standards of beauty.

People need to stop blaming Beyonce and focus on the fashion and cosmetics industries who perpetuate heterosexist and racist constructs of beauty.