I was channel surfing in my usual brain dead procrastinate want to reach a light alpha brain wave mode to wind down from a busy day at campus and the name Caprica caught my attention. I read the description and saw avatar, Esai Morales and apocalypse and I was piqued enough to set the DVR to watch it and fast forward through commercials.
Esai Morales, the Boricua by birth, icon of Chicano themed cinema as seen with Mi Familia and the mimetically racist NYPD Blue, and the vato loco brother in Ritchie Valens among others, is back with the brand new series of Caprica (a type of prequel to Battlestar Galactica that starred an even more iconic figure in Chicano themed cinema, Edward James Olmos in recent seasons).
So in a not too distant future 58 years before the Battlestar Galactica flees man made cyborg annihilation, we first see Esai, a Tauron, in a turn of a century Italian mafia style suit with black dainty gloves and Stetson fedora with hints towards the Godfather working as a lawyer. His fellow Taurons are morenos and mestizos and have tribal markings, and Esai (his characters last name is Adama, if it had the L in the name it would be a full narcisisstic moment) plays a subdued and assimilationist figure, trying to blend in and be low key as he defends his fellow Taurons in the court sytem. The judge, an African-American women, lets off his client who is smugly guilty only to find that she was happy to be bribed. (So I guess folks of color in positions of judicial are untrustworthy—hmm?) The future is more interpellated with a growing consumer use of military grade artificial intelligence, the coloniality of power between white Eurocentric controllers of technology and capital and the Taurons like Chicanos continues to play itself out at all levels. Taurons deal with and in some cases reinforce the imposed baggage of criminality: savage, untrustworthy, deceitful, stoic, folkloric, and simplistic. So what remains in city scapes that look like white washed and only upper class Seattle and Vancouver (no homeless folks and no evidence of abject poverty, a type of Starbucks fantasy of happy bourgeois consumers enjoying the hustle bustle of clean living city life).
The tropes of Eurocentric privilege remain, applied cognitive science and capitalism create new markets and desire remains strictly Freudian and repressed. People maintain their surface lives living as consumers of the coloniality of power and act out their ids in a full avatar sensorium with hacked holobands. Rather than the digital anime like avatars we see in current gaming circles, these avatars are identical human replicas of their users with sexy SM like couture. They enter into a type of Caligula like night-club with stages, lofts, and reserved lounge areas seen in most mid to high end clubs in most cities. Teenage group sex is rampant, unfettered drug use, the hard stuff, real time virgin sacrifices to one of the few African American women who transmutes to a demonic figure, and literal shoot to kill fight clubs, and bare knuckle brawling with orgiastic religious fervor crowds. Sex and violence is the mega church of repressed desire.
The terrorist tactic liberators from the moral outrage of these avatar Freudian pits of unfettered sexual violence are now bomb carrying messianic evangelical disciples of the one god who blow up trains to prepare for the coming. So far in this episode they are deeply privileged kids, mainly white, and the only E. Indian and/or Pakistani kid is the actual bomb detonator on a subway train.
The tropes of Freud and his now famed incest taboo complex is given even deeper rein in the avatar worlds where fathers (a highly successful biomedical technocrat with a house that looks like Bill Gates’ on the Seattle environ shorelines and Esai who as a good stoic Chicano in the colonialist gaze eschews technology and prefers old school ways of power, bribery and knifing for honor) can act out their repressed desires for their teenage daughters. Grieving the loss of their “real” daughters because of the one G..d bombing, they work towards embodying their Avatar daughters and making what will be a Stepford wife version of the teenage chicas. Where they will, I imagine always want to hold the remote control on their daughters brain chips. It is interesting that the “forbidden” and “repressed” gets full holographic range in the avatar nightclubs and state racism towards to Taurons is still considered part of respectable above ground society? Hum? Muy interesante?
So in the grand Puritan traditions of the American Empire, public culture represses desire to the forbidden and the grotesque, and is released without filters in avatar pits. Racism, capitalism, privilege and Freud seem atemporal, Latinos if that is what Taurons are, the state defined others, are, are not only atemporal but stuck in 1910 America with the great waves of immigration and values from the old country: we continue to exist in different chronotopes.
Can’t wait to see the next episodes as Freudian desire becomes cyborg revenge on their literal patriarch creators. I wonder what would Freud would say about that?
2017 Bread Loaf School of English Awards
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