Culture

HBO’s New Spanish-Language Series Is Exploring Another Widely-Held Love Within Our Culture

There are certain universal similarities throughout the Latinidad that binds us to one another. We don’t mean stereotypes, but things that we honest to goodness all love. For example, our appreciation for cafecito and a rhythmic beat are accurate clichés tied to Latinx folk. Similarly, HBO’s new Spanish-language series is exploring another widely-held love within our culture.

On July 14th, the television network debuted its new series “Los Espookys” and it’s “horror” theme is very close to our hearts.

Twitter / @HBO

“Los Espookys” is a mostly Spanish-language comedy that includes a healthy dose of horror and camp. Created by Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega and Fred Armisen, the series takes place in an undisclosed city in Latin America. It follows a group of friends —Renaldo, Andrés, Úrsula and Tati — as they turn their hobby of horror and special effects into a business of their very own creation.

While the show’s mix of comedy and horror is completely engaging, “Los Espookys” is also groundbreaking. As mentioned, the series is mostly in Spanish with English subtitles. The portions that aren’t in Español utilize slang and English with Spanish subtitles to communicate to its audience. For a large network like HBO to carry a Spanish language series and air it in primetime is a huge deal. Even more, it reflects how much confidence the “Game of Thrones” network has in the new show.

The premiere of “Los Espookys” opens with a super intense quinceanera. If you think you’ve been to some scary quinces before, just wait until you see this spook-tastic party. As it turns out, everything from the entrails cake to the mutilated waiters is the work of Renaldo and his crew. The party impresses everyone, including Renaldo’s uncle, Tio Tico (played by Armisen). Expressing his support, his uncle encourages the spooky connoisseur to pursue his passion — even if that passion is monsters and mayhem.

The friends get the chance to do just that when the local priest makes an unusual request of the group’s special skills.

Twitter / @HBOPR

Episode One also reveals more about the group of self-proclaimed “horror technicians.” The black-clad unofficial leader of the group is Renaldo and his life-long friend is Andrés. The electric blue-haired Andrés is the heir to a chocolate company. Called the “Prince of Chocolate,” he is a genuinely intriguing dude with dramatic past. (Note the intense telenovela music that plays whenever he gets contemplative.)

Rounding out the group is a pair of unusual sisters. Úrsula is a dental hygienist with the soul of an artist who is happiest when she’s making something terrifying. Her sister is the odd and unintentionally funny Tita. We first meet Tita when she is hand-spinning the blades of an electric fan to cool down her boss, the priest. Fortunately for us, she only gets more bizarre as the episode goes on.

The cast delivers some great lines but that’s not the only thing that makes “Los Espookys” so entertaining. Improbable situations, subtle humor, and references to popular Latinx culture all add to the series’s appeal, too.

However, it’s the focus on the characters’ love of horror that will really resonate with Latinx viewers — and for a valid reason.

Twitter / WigWurq

Whether it’s the scary legends of La Llarona y El Cucuy or the movies of Guermillo del Toro, the Latinidad loves horror. After all, we have an entire holiday completely devoted to honoring the dead. If you need additional proof of this love, look no further than our children — the future of our culture.

In early June 2019, 3-year-old Lucia Brown went viral for her very scary birthday theme. The birthday girl insisted on a party that included Valak, the satanic sister from “The Nun.” It wasn’t just Lucia that enjoyed the theme; her friends also painted their face in black and gave into the darkness.

Yet, a love of horror isn’t something we simply grow out of; it grows with us.

Twitter / @BlairGuild

When we become teens and start to explore our own independence, we strike out towards our own styles. This often means we explore music and clothing to find what best suits us. In these two subjects, we still see marked examples of our cultural love of horror.

The Emo and Goth subcultures have been notably popular with Latinx teens and young adults since its birth. Both categories are usually associated with teens who are not of color and can appear to be at odds with the colorful traditions of the Latinidad. However, there’s something about the Emo and Goth lifestyles that resonate with Latinx folk.

These categories are often hard to describe but most people can place the look when they see it. Both Emo and Goth subgroups focus on self-expression by embracing dark fashions and the mentality of “the individual.” These subcultures also incorporate a healthy dose of horror — using zombies, monsters and the occult in their fashion and art.

Music is the heart of the Emo and Goth subcultures and is what most links the Latinidad to the lifestyle.

Twitter / @missbreton
Twitter / @_smromero

Emo and Goth music often explore dark and emotional topics in their lyrics and evoke feeling with their music. Bands like Morrissey, Joy Division and The Cure led the way for this type of music in the 80’s and 90’s. Later, groups including AFI, My Chemical Romance and The Used became the modern voice of their genre.

For these bands, Morrissey especially has become beloved to Latinx Goths and Emos. Maria Hinojosa’s exploration of this love — entitled “Goths: Latinos on the Dark Side” is an interesting episode of Latino USA that explores this topic.

In it, a guest explains, “For whatever reason, Latinos love Morrissey and no one really knows why. I think it’s the melodrama.”

It could be argued that melodrama is also the reason the Latinidad loves horror.

Many have expressed a sense of community in finding these subgenres so maybe that’s the real reason Latinx folk feel so at home with them.

Twitter / @llavvves

Often times, Latinos and Latinas feel excluded from the larger communities we’re a part of. Sometimes we’re marginalized by income level. Sometimes it’s our nationality or citizen status that isolates us from others. We can even be excluded from others within our own Latinx community.

However, a shared appreciation of the Emo and Goth subgenres and all things horror unites us in a mutual love. In a world where we can feel so alone, we can go to a Guermillo del Toro film and feel connected. When feeling as though no one understands us, we can listen to Morrissey and hear our feelings in his words.

In this way, “Los Espookys” also has the potential to unite our Latinidad with something we’ll love. Though we’ve only seen one of the six episodes of this season, the response online has been more than positive. Obviously, the hilarious script combined with the characters’ love of horror makes for a combination that audiences relate to. We can’t wait to see what spooky surprises “Los Espookys” has in store for us still.

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‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

Entertainment

‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

It’s 1970. Groans of discomfort permeate a Los Angeles County Hospital hallway as a Mexican-American woman is in labor. This is going to be her first child.

Little does she know that it’ll also be her last.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

“This is an example of erasure,” director Kathryn Boyd-Batstone told mitú.

For Rosa, details a harrowing reality for many women of color in 1970s California. Inspired by the 1978 Madrigal v. Quilligan case, the story follows Eva, a mother faced with the pivotal decision to join the Madrigal Ten after discovering she was unknowingly sterilized.

Wanting to highlight each individual experience, Boyd-Batstone described her heroine as “a fictional composite character” inspired by multiple plaintiffs from the Madrigal Ten.

At first glance, Eva’s story prominently resembles the experience of plaintiff Melvina Hernández.

Hernández, at 23, signed a document that allegedly consented to an emergency C-section. Fearmongering by doctors and nurses highlighted a perceieved risk of mortality, pressuring her to sign a document she couldn’t read.

Four years later, she was informed that she had actually signed for a tubal ligation.

The history of eugenics is an ugly one, acting as a form of silent genocide.

In Eva’s case, medical professionals take advantage of her. Doctors and nurses took advantage of her language barrier and the pain of child labor.

The story, while historical, is relevant in the current context of the Trump era’s immigration policies.

Last year, an ICE nurse whistleblower reported the nonconsensual mass hysterectomies of migrant women detained at the border.

In the U.S. and Canada, Indigenous women have continuously been sterilized despite pro-sterilization policies ending in the 1970s.

“Although the court case happened over fifty years ago, we are still in a time where reproductive rights are not respected,” Boyd-Batstone said. “This is not an issue of the past, and so the fight continues.”

California’s eugenics laws disproportionately targeted Latinas.

California was one of the leading states in eugenics-informed practices.

After passing a law in 1909 that allowed medical practitioners to sterilize patients, the motives of cultural erasure became clear.

Hiding behind “good medicine” were racist and xenophobic incentives aimed to eliminate potential “welfare” cases.

Under this discriminatory pretense, Latinas were 59 percent more likely to be forcibly sterilized.

The United States has an extensive history of nonconsensual medical experimentation on Black and Brown communities.

Studies like the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” which lasted over 40 years, in part, shaped the mistrust between the Black community and the medical industry.

A mistrust that remains prevalent in the 21st century.

The Madrigal Ten is a testament to the fight for reproductive rights and women of colors’ autonomy.

In 1975, Dolores Madrigal alongside nine other women filed a class-action lawsuit against L.A. County-USC Medical Center for the nonconsensual tubal ligations that occurred during child labor.

A complicated ordeal that received little funding, 26-year-old Chicana Civil Rights attorney Antonia Hernández impressively took on the case. Boyd-Batstone who read the court documents said, “it became obvious that at the time the hospital did not have adequate steps in place to make sure their patients could give informed consent.”

Dr. Karen Benker, the only physician to testify against the hospital, told the New York Times in 2016 that “voluntary informed consent” didn’t exist in the early 70s.

That is until after the National Research Act of 1974 following public outcry from the Tuskegee study.

Following Roe v. Wade, the Madrigal Ten case sought to end the forced sterilizations of women of color, define informed consent and provide consent forms in Spanish at a reading level individuals could understand.

In 2016 PBS released a documentary on the case called “No Más Bebes,” which greatly inspired Boyd-Batstone to create For Rosa.

“The main feeling that stuck with me after watching the documentary was how much strength it must have taken these women to face someone who tried to take their identity and demand accountability,” she said.

Validating women of color’s experiences was essential for Boyd-Batstone. While the film mirrors the malpractices of the medical industry, brought upon by systematic racism and bias, she also hopes that women who have felt “diminished or uneasy around doctors” find the courage to speak out.

For Rosa, sheds light on traditional themes of womanhood and Chicana feminism.

“Stop Forced Sterilization” poster by Rachael Romero, 1977. // Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Simultaneously, the lawsuit took place during the rise in Chicana activism.

As tensions between mainstream white feminism and women of color peaked; Chicana activists put legislative reform and reproductive justice at the forefront. Furthermore, they brought awareness to discrimination as it intersects race, class, gender, and immigration.

Though on the sidelines, the case also harbored on the cultural question of defining femininity.

Worried for the state of her marriage, the correspondence of fertility with femininity felt dense. Heavily ingrained in machismo culture; the pain and frustration of no longer being able to conceive are palpable.

But the strength and courage to speak out defies all odds.

“As women, especially Latina women, I don’t think many stories show us how to do this,” Boyd-Batstone said. “So it was important to me to, one, honor the Madrigal Ten’s bravery but [to also] show young girls what it looks like to stand up and fight for your rights.” 

Though it has been nearly 50 years since the Madrigal Ten case, the fight for women’s autonomy and reproductive rights is ongoing.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

On June 7, 1978, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the USC Medical Center. Judge Jesse Curtis stated that miscommunication and language barriers resulted in unwanted sterilizations.

Nonetheless, the lawsuit’s impact was potent. The California Department of Health revised its sterilization guidelines to include a 72-hour waiting period and issued a booklet on sterilization in Spanish.

In 1979, California abolished its sterilization law after 70 years.

More than 20,000 people of various races and ethnicities were sterilized during this time.

For Rosa ends with archival footage of Dolores Madrigal and Antonia Hernández announcing the lawsuit. Nevertheless, its timely release is indicative of the continual demands for justice today.

Now more than ever we must remember the narratives of the Madrigal Ten, and other Black and Brown activists who continue to pave the way for change.

“My hope is that For Rosa humanizes the women so that whatever culture or race or gender you are, you can empathize with the women as human beings,” Boyd-Batstone said.

“My hope is that every person who watches understands that these Latina women are deserving of respect.” 

Para Rosa (For Rosa) is available to stream on HBO Max.

READ: Joe Biden Says ‘Healthcare is Not a Privilege, It’s a Right,’ Donald Trump and the GOP Disagree

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Jenny Solares Is One IG Creator Everyone Needs To Follow

Culture

Jenny Solares Is One IG Creator Everyone Needs To Follow

A year in quarantine has led so many of us to doom scroll and get lost in social media. As a result, some people are getting more recognition and one person who should be getting your attention is Jenny Solares, or @es_jenny_solares on Instagram.

Jenny Solares is here with the relatable content we all want.

The Guatemalan content creator knows what the people want to see. How many times have you heard someone say that they like a woman who can eat? Well, as Jenny urges, prove it, y’all. Take your lady out and get her all of the food that she wants. Let’s go!

Now, that’s how you add salsa to someone’s food. If you didn’t already think this way when adding salsa to your tacos, you definitely will now. It’s just impossible not to.

We also love seeing her collaborating with Estefania Saavedra, a fellow Latina creator. A rising tide lifts all boats so we appreciate seeing these Latinas working together.

Solares is even creating brand new identities.

Cholas will forever have a place in our hearts. We know cholas. We love cholas. We are related to cholas. Solares’ creation of the glola is truly a work of art. Just because you’re a chola doesn’t mean you can’t love glitter and colors.

She’s even got some of the Covid humor in check.

There are going to be so many school assignments about this year in the coming years. Kids will be learning about the time the world stood still as we battled an out-of-control virus. It is going to be us having to tell the little ones about that time and it’s going to be rough. Get ready to reliving everything we have been dealing with for the last year.

On top of all of the comedy, Solares is ready to show her fans some real love for their support.

“Thank you all for letting me be me. Thank you for appreciating my silliness, my craziness, my songs, my dances, my imperfections,” Solares tells her fans in a year-end video. “Thank you for letting me be myself. This year was full of so much sadness, uncertainty, frustration, and, for a lot of people, loneliness. Thank you all for not letting me feel that loneliness.”

Thank you, Jenny. Your comedy has been a bright spot for so many during an incredibly hard and sad year.

READ: Instagram Fitness Gurus To Follow For Your 2021 Goals

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