Machete, Archie Comics, Smigly and More Yes List Culture Picks
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, Machete bloodies up the box office, Archie Comics gets its first gay character, and Smigly is the new cartoon poster boy for the recession.
‘Mexploitation’ Invades the Movies
Summer wouldn’t be complete without a gratuitous bloodfest—and Machete, by Grindhouse director Robert Rodriguez, certainly fits the bill. Danny Trejo jumps in the titular role as an undocumented immigrant caught between Mexican drug lords who are after him in the south and American politicians who want to deport him in the north. Machete’s a “ baaad-assss,” as Trejo calls him, an ex-Mexican federale who goes on a killing spree in this sort-of satire that touches on the recent immigration crisis, complete with Robert De Niro as an overeager politician who calls immigration “an overt act of terrorism.” The Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis writes that director Robert Rodriguez “takes America’s panic over its southern border—the jitters that historian Ricardo Romo once called a ‘Brown Scare’—and runs wild with it.” It’s racking up good reviews across the board and may just be the first film ever to subtly combine politics and AK-47s.
Archie Comics Goes Gay
A teenager has come out in Riverdale, and no, it's not noted "woman-hater" Jughead Jones. Archie Comics, long a bastion of wholesome Middle American values, introduced a new character this week and—gasp!—he’s gay. Kevin Keller was announced last April, but comic book aficionados finally got their first glance at the heartbreaker on Wednesday. Veteran Archie artist Dan Parent described Kevin to Daily Beast writer Barbara Spindel: "He's well-dressed, but I didn't want to make him too flamboyant. He can be metrosexual, but I didn't want to play up to the stereotype.” Veronica starts chasing after him and Betty doesn’t stop her, despite knowing that he’s gay, because that means she gets Archie all to herself. Gay friend as plot twist? It’s very Will & Grace circa 1998, but we’re glad to see the stereotypically guy-friendly genre get a little more gay-friendly.
YouTube’s Rising Cartoon Star
Meet Smigly, a lovable Average Joe who’s the perfect mascot for the Age of Recession. The cartoon series sprung from the mind of jazz musician Allen Mezquida after he decided to shore up on a fallback profession more suited to the digital world. Now, Smigly makes his home on YouTube, going about with his sad-sack life despite all the obstacles in his way. An “average guy who dreams of making human contact, but finds that nobody remembers how,” poor Smigly is a saxophonist who finds himself on the outs with corporate America, and his rather touching sense of humanity has already resonated with over 100,000 YouTube viewers. BBC even reaired the episode titled “Shitcanned.” James Gavin spoke with Mezquida about throwing his hat in the online ring and the struggle to turn creative ideas into advertising dollars online.