Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Arturo Perez Torres and Super Amigos! Stand back, make way!

Arturo Perez Torres just released the very cool new film Super Amigos. The film has zealous, yet low key activists donning their alter-ego personas in the form of the Mexican wrestlers (lucha libre) in their masks to fight for social justice. What makes the film either ironic or a bit surreal (I haven't figured this part out yet) is that the characters are real life activists who project a mundane demeanor while appearing in public to advocate for social justice. Imagine someone like Al Gore speaking intelligently and passionately about global warming while wearing a Superman suit and keeping a poker face. Not only that, imagine him intervening into a corporate world in costume confronting the evil-doers and winning the argument because he is right and has the truth on his side. There you have Super Amigos; they are based in Mexico City and are a fellowship of five super heroes, united to fight evil.

There is Super Barrio vs unjust gentrification that elbows out the poor. Ecologista Universal wages war against pollution. It is noted that Cairo recently surpassed Mexico City as the most polluted city in the world. Did Ecologista Universal kick butt to make this happen? We have Fray Tormenta, a priest who gave up on traditional Christian practices in favor of being an activist on the streets, saving children from the evils of abandonment. Super Gay's crusade to make Mexico City safe for gay's takes a fearless stand in the midst of a kind of almost manic homophobia that is ubiquitously oppressive in a culture that prides itself on its machismo. Super Animal takes on the bullfighters who cruelly slaughter bulls in the ring, challenging them to fight him instead. None of the cowardly bullfighters take him up on his challenge and he openly ridicules them with a bullhorn in front of the arenas during their bullfights.

The comic book art adds another layer of mockery in that it gives a narrative of the details of each Super Amigo's fights against a specific brand of injustice. I have a secret trickster radar screen that picks them up a mile way when everyone else is still trying to identify them and figure them out. Five glowing dots made distinct 'poink' sounds when they blipped onto my screen. Ahhh. What do we have here? Tricksters in our midst? One of the cool characteristics that a trickster possesses is the ability to move around with impunity where others cannot exist. The authorities still can't figure out what to do with tricksters, which is why they're so relevant and effective in various cultures. What are the police going to do? Arrest Super Barrio for intervening for the poor? The joke will be on them, which allows the Super Amigos to continue their work, which is what a couple of critics missed in their reviews (I don't fault them, they lack the secret trickster radar that quite a few of us have stashed in our basements).

Here is a comic strip rendering of Lenny Williams (one of the good guys from the staff of All Roads), Arturo Perez Torres, and none other than Super Barrio himself! They were having an intellectual discussion on a panel at the All Roads Festival in Washington DC, and it seemed appropriate to present them in cartoon form.

I had the honor of seeing Super Barrio in person at the All Roads Film festival in Washington DC this past weekend. It was humbling to be in the presence of such a great crusader. Mother Theresa would have been proud to stand by him. I sure was, especially as I watched our own hazy sky. Where is Ecologista Universal when you need him? He's got some serious butt kicking to do here in America. He can slam through that moronic Border Wall on his way up here, but maybe that's another Super Amigo story?

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