Stupid sexy, powerful enemy

A professional gymnast migrant who makes a living by twerking at traffic lights wearing a lycra Spiderman costume (similar to that red ski suit that accentuated the buttocks of “stupid sexy” Ned Flanders). A housewife who dared to wear the Pikachu costume that her youngest son bought out of boredom from Ali Express with the credit card of his father on his smartphone. A street vegetable vendor in a harbour, disguised as one of those vegetables, but on a human scale. A bare-chested hooded man protected by nothing more than a STOP sign. Some people were already doing these things before, others started doing them as a result of the protest. Some were part of the protest because they belonged to the street, others went out for the first time in their lives to a demonstration. Some lived with an alter ego to put food in their mouths, others decided to use it so as not to be recognized even if they later gave interviews on morning shows. Centennials, Millennials, Xennials, Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers (or whatever works best in Latin America). But for the President of Chile there was only an indefinite, homogeneous mass, which consisted of “a powerful and implacable enemy who doesn’t respect anything or anyone.” Speeches that for the first few seconds serve their purpose of frightening us until our eyes dart away from the television screen to the cell phone or laptop screen. And we see our social networks turgid with these strange contents, uploaded by fan pages or directly by friends, with known, recognizable figures or those with whom we simply identify, because it can be our teacher, our partner, our father. And then we understand that the popular demonstration, when it takes place in an urban, mestizo and globalized context, is no longer so easily demonizable for those who differentiate a real explosion from one designed in After Effects. This new protest, on the street but with digital support, intergenerational but with Centennial / Millennial codes, intersectional in agendas from the Mapuche to the LGBTQ+ one, has the power to complain without fearing losing its eyes that, at the same time, blends with an absurd humour and brings these local superheroes of ordinary and diverse origins to life with the same storytelling as the Avengers, with powers, fans, iconography and googleable names: Stupid Sexy Spiderman, Dance Pikachu, Nalcaman, Stop Man or Captain Alameda. People living the so-called Homo Ludens (that is, the YOLO) to its fullest.

I don’t get too excited because I know that evolution is cyclical, that today we ask ourselves again if planet Earth is flat, if vaccines kill or if the Pachamama comes from the Devil. But I like to live in this moment when more and more people know that the powerful and implacable enemy is nothing more than -and is much more than- a man wearing a lycra Spiderman costume twerking on a flagpole in Santiago de Chile, or a crowd in Beirut singing Baby Shark to calm a frightened toddler in the middle of the protest. There is no longer a big, strange bogeyman because we have all seen each other.

Illustration by Erick Baltodano.


Gabriela Sialer