Excerpt: Politics365 On The Rise Of The ‘Mexican Spring’

Courtesy: Los Angeles Times

Less than ten years after losing control of the executive branch, and by extension, the country, the PRI won effective control of the lower house of the legislature, a broad swath of the country’s largest cities and five out of six gubernatorial races. The PRI’s electoral success automatically converted their most elected official and party leader, Enrique Peña Nieto, a front-runner in the 2012 presidential campaign. Polls demonstrated voters believed the PRI had not changed.

But they didn’t care. Millions of Mexicans felt nostalgia for the “functionality” of the old, antidemocratic regime, and still do.

As of last week, a Mitofsky poll confirmed that Peña Nieto remains comfortably in the lead. And as such is predicted to win the presidential election, returning the PRI to Los Pinos (Mexico’s White House).

But Mexico’s young people are especially incensed that victory by Enrique Peña Nieto on July 1 is often portrayed as a fait accompli. Thousands of students have poured into the streets of Mexico City for the second time in a week to protest the way the nation’s upcoming presidential election is being run and, more specifically, covered in the Mexican media. The young people taking to the streets come from a wide range of schools—public, private, leftist, rightist, and Catholic. They are decidedly anti-Peña Nieto, an unmistakable, unifying sentiment expressed by the banners and signs they carry. Nevertheless, these manifestations, like the Occupy movement erupting from Zuccotti Park, go beyond partisan politics, and represent a broader questioning of the status quo.

- From “Yo Soy 132 and the Mexican Spring,” by Unai Montes-Irueste

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Bolaji Badejo

By Andrea Plaid

Who?!” you may be asking.

A somewhat fair question, though, like last week’s Crush Kevin Clash, you may know him by the creation he brought to on-screen life:

Bolaji Badejo. Photo: Eve Arnold

 Yes, that was a Black man in the original Alien suit. (And a cute one, too!)

Badejo got into the suit by pure happenstance, like latest-white-starlet-found-at-an-eatery chance. In his case, a casting team member from the original film approached the Nigerian graphic-arts student at a London bar and put him in touch with Alien director Ridley Scott. The reason why Scott thought Badejo could work the costume (and won the role over Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca): Badejo stood at 7 feet 2 inches and had a “slender” “erect” frame which, being so long-limbed, could “give the illusion that a human couldn’t possibly be in the costume.”  Stuntmen also got into it for certain scenes. (For more on how Badejo worked the suit. check this out.)

After this–his only acting role, and this flick came out in 1979–Badajo disappeared from the movie life. What happened to him, according to the ‘net…well, some people (as of 2010) state that he passed away, yet his Facebook page has him alive and living in the States. (I sent a friend request on Facebook. We’ll see.) Nothing has yet confirmed about him.

Looking back on the experience, Badejo said in an 1979 interveiw that, in light of Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and other Hollywood stars who gained their fame from playing monsters, he regretted that no one knew it was him in suit, however, he commented, “The fact that I played the part of the Alien, for me, that’s good enough.”

Whenever I watched the Alien movie–and for all of Sigourney Weaver’s woman-with-a-gun girl-power rocking the flick (though the second film basically made it a weirdly racialized Mommy War, with Weaver protecting the orphaned white child as her real reason for getting all gun-happy with the dark-skinned creature–I found my empathies with the Aliens. On the real, Weaver’s crew rolls up on their territory (and if I recall the movies correctly, this is on purpose) and are protecting and trying to feed their offspring. However, whatever the intentions of the crew for being in the Aliens’ side of the universe, the flicks portray their survival as worthy (“don’t let them eat us top-of-the-food-chain types”) and the Aliens’ survival is seen as unworthy, if not outright deserving annihilation. (“That’s what you get for using us top-of-the-food-chain types as your food!”) The fact that the Alien is played by a Black man adds a certain frisson and texture to the original film for me, considering it’s these flicks where fears about colonization, race (and racism!), community, and resources often play out.

Wherever he may be, Badejo is not forgotten. And that’s good enough for me.

Race + Burlesque: Dita Von Teese Dons Yellowface

By Associate Editor Andrea Plaid, The Shanghai Pearl, Chicava HoneyChild, Essence Revealed, and ExHOTic Other

Burlesquer The Shanghai Pearl tipped off the R to one of the latest offensive acts, this one done by renowned burly-q entertainer Dita Von Teese at her ::sigh:: “Opium Den Show.” (Video NSFW)

Latoya asked me to cover the controversy with my burlesque mentor and one of the R’s favorite burlesque experts , Chicava HoneyChild. Chicava reached back to Shanghai Pearl as well as asked Brown Girl Burlesque performers ExHOTic Other and Essence Revealed to join the conversation. Here’s what we all had to say about it.

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The Friday Mixtape – 6.1.12 Edition

Starting us off this week are Portland’s own The Slants, who are giving fans an interesting incentive for pre-ordering their latest album, Slants! Slants! Revolution. The band is looking to raise $10,000 via Kickstarter to pay for a new tour bus, and, if they meet their goal, anyone who contributes $50 or more will be memorialized on the bus with their name, location and a custom message, on top of other swag like exclusive content. And as the band explains on their fundraising page, for a group that’s played more than 350 shows around the U.S. and in Europe in just four years, new wheels are definitely a priority:

We’ll be able to purchase an older shuttle bus and renovate it for the tour. This would mean that we wouldn’t need to tour with a trailer anymore, be much safer on the road, break down less often, and have a little more space on our house on wheels.

Among the group’s stops on the road thus far have been anime conventions (Spoilers: they’ll be playing a gig this July during the San Diego Comic-Con), and that gets reflected in the video for “You Make Me Alive,” where some cosplayers get to shine alongside the band.

This next track is one of those asides that makes late-night web searches worth your time: a few years back, members of Tijuana’s Nortec Collective – a group of DJs who blend beats from Northern Mexico with techno – decided to cover Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down” with the backing of a brass band. The ensuing cultural collision packs a punch worthy of the original.

Speaking of collisions, here’s a mash-up from DJs From Mars pitting Rihanna’s “We Found Love” against “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” by Coldplay. It’s okay, Coldplay doesn’t bring the mood down this time.

Our friends at Bold As Love turned us on to this track by Brooklyn-based Maya Azucena, whose music has been featured on shows like The Wire and 30 Rock, and has performed – by request, even – at the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals Summit in 2010. If you’re not familiar with her, “The Half” is a great introduction.

We take to the stage for our final track, what with the trailer for the new film adaptation of Les Miserables hitting the web this week, with the only voice you hear being Anne Hathaway’s take on “I Dreamed A Dream.” The film will also feature Samantha Banks as Eponine, a role that Lea Salonga brought to life on Broadway. This fall, Salonga is scheduled to star alongside George Takei in Allegiance – A New American Musical set during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Here’s Salonga as Eponine during the 10th Anniversary show for Les Mis, with “On My Own.”

Finally, with summer kicking off, let’s open this thing up a bit: we are now taking requests! If you’ve got a track or an artist that you want your fellow Racializens to know about, drop me a line at arturo@racialicious.com and we’ll give you some shine.