Well-meaning laments about violence in the media usually leave me wanting to bash someone upside the head with a tire iron. To begin with, the reformist spirit is invariably aimed down the rungs of cultural idioms, at cartoons, slasher films, pornography, rap music and video games, while the carnage and bloodletting in Shakespeare, Goya and the Bible get a pass. Low-culture violence is literal, while high-culture violence is symbolic or allegorical and subject to critical interpretation. Low-culture violence coarsens us, high-culture violence edifies us. And the lower the cultural form, or the ticket price, or — let’s just say it — the presumed education level of the typical viewer, the more depictions of violence are suspected of inducing mindless emulation in their audiences, who will soon re-enact the mayhem like morally challenged monkeys, unlike the viewers of, say, “Titus Andronicus,” about whose moral intelligence society is confident.
The popular Mexican imagery of Day of the Dead flavors my perception of the human toll that gentrification and displacement has wreaked upon the formerly Latino neighborhood of the Mission, San Fancisco, where we lived and raised our son.
Carmen D. Meléndez was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, “the most important colony in the world”, in the words of popular reaggaetón group Calle 13. After graduating from UPR, Río Piedras campus, I decided to move to San Francisco, CA, to pursue studies in drawing, painting and printmaking. Life happened instead and 27-years-later, I am finally following up on that while juggling survival in this expensive city, from where i’m not evicted yet, together with my husband and college-student son.