Disapproval is not a judgmental fusillade to be conveyed as a conclusive endeavor in order to change pragmatic artefacts carefully layered when plagiarism surfaces as an utmost stratagem for creativity. When it comes to Colombian spectators, in fact, any warm-hearted critique is somehow scarcely admissible by their culture and it can quickly backlash and escalate dramatically, invading your personal life instead of enduring at a professional degree. Truth be told, Rock Al Parque Festival has been of late, overwhelmingly targeted with dreadful criticism, mainly throughout social networks in which groups have surfaced against the selection of acts chosen for this year’s edition. Whence their official poster was publically published on July 22nd, both music enthusiasts and comic book aficionados snatched their Kusaris (name of the weapon Lobo carries) and publically exhibited their depicted discontent regarding the illustration appointed. Why all the calamity? The said poster sinfully portrays Greek Cthulhu with an iconic Lobo look alike comic book cover, most respectfully Lobo’s Back: Volume 1 – The Final Fragdown, published by DC Comics on May 1st, 1992.
For foreigners still unaware, Rock Al Parque Festival is an annual open air rock music festival that has taken place in Bogotá, Colombia, since May 26th, 1995. Entrance to the festival has always been free of charge, congregating an impressive 400,000 of different individuals during its 2004 edition, which led it to be proclaimed as the largest rock festival in Colombia, and one of the most far-reaching events of the category in South America. It was an initiative to amass the support from Bogotá’s Institute of Culture and Tourism, while fusing several avenues into a monolithic event, such as with the case with the occupancy of Teatro La Media Torta, the Simón Bolívar Park (the park is named after the Latin American Liberator Simón Bolívar), as part of Rock Al Parque Festival extensiveness.
Unfortunately for many, Rock Al Parque Festival synthesized its rock and metal formula that throughout the years has sustained its structural backbone, and gradually opened its acceptance to further musical methodologies, such as punk, reggae, ska, blues and supplementary electronic sonorities. Mostly due to the musical diversity now presented, the organizers felt ordained to schedule events in a process that would allow acts to perform alongside one another, as opposed to dispose acts by musical categories.
In recent years, the organizers’ careful choosing of posters through public contests have upthrust a loathsome controversy, as at their lone astuteness determines which class of visual approach thrives better than others when representing the festival, often regarded as a factor in evolution. Nonetheless, for the past six years, Rock Al Parque Festival struggled with an acute absence of illustrative creativity, aside from a proper and alternative set of acts that may vary from edition to edition instead of downfalling toward the tiresome.
The use of a renowned comic book cover, slightly rearranged according to modern techniques yet shamefully perpetuating the same concept and layered pose shown on Lobo’s Back: Volume 1 – The Final Fragdown, clearly ignites the firestorm that combusted in the past few years.
Lobo is undebatably one of the foremost psychotic metal crazes ever produced by DC Comics, an intergalactic bounty hunter that rides a futuristic version of a Harley Davidson while intersecting the galaxies stalking for his prey. In numerous occasions we have held Lobo comics in which he departs after Superman and takes him down to the soil, therefore, we are fully mindful of how tough he can be, and combining his fighting skills with his tempestuous craziness and devious disdain to achieve his purposes even if it implies destroying a whole planetoid, Lobo stands out as the archetypal comic book persona leeway by pervading the outer limits of restrainment.
Historically, the Lobo persona was created by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen, and first appeared on the third publication of Omega Men, on June 1983. Of alienish genesis, Lobo is a cold-hearted, ruthless mercenary, and a merciless bounty hunter. This anti-hero interstellar hardboiled persona that initially emerged as a villain named Lobo, was so violent during the 1980’s that he was soon sent to limbo due to his existence in an unprepared comic world that frequently disturbed youthful readers. In earlier 1990’s, DC Comics decided that he should be revived and thereafter produced his own comic miniseries, reintroducing Lobo as an anti-hero biker with a disordered perspective respecting life, including his own, and a threatening temper in his whole quintessence, savage to the core, I might affix.
Rock Al Parque Festival artistic team nonetheless absolutely abandoned the perspective what Lobo’s social grouping might be whence they earn the official poster, grotesquely bestowing their spectators with what intelligibly resembles closely to the notorious comic book cover, carefully repositioned with a Greek Cthulhu wearing a vest like Lobo does with his ‘Bite Me, Fan Boy’ phenomenal jeans jacket. Unintentionally, it is possible that the design conception was unconsciously inspired by Lobo, even thus the similarities lead me to think if the designers, in this case a phalanx of five, could be all heedless of the noticeable similarities when pinstriping this poster.
The official poster was conceived by Andrés Garzón, Daniel Roa, Raúl Díaz, Jonathan Cárdenas and Cristian Hernández from Instituto Distrital De Las Artes, Idartes, in cooperation with the team of Subdirección De Las Artes, and it appears at least to me, that this ensemble of “artists” merely focused on the visual impact other than the cultural end that would benefit the Colombian historical grandeur.
Nevertheless, their official statement is that it was encouraged by the world of horror fiction stimulated by American author Howard Phillips Lovecraft, known as H. P. Lovecraft, most respectfully regarding his work involved on ‘The Call Of Cthulhu’, a short horror story written in the summer of 1926 and first published in the pulp magazine, Weird Tales Magazine, in February 1928, two years after its initial writing.
Writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft created a number of fictional deities throughout the course of his literary career, including the ‘Great Old Ones’ and the ‘Outer Gods’, with sporadic references to other miscellaneous deities, and Cthulhu was one of the ‘Great Old Ones’ amidst the pantheon of Lovecraftian cosmic entities, an entity since then encrusted into popular cultures. Still, Cthulhu would be later delineated as a colossal creature, a token of devotion by cultists. Cthulhu’s anatomy is often described as part octopus, part man, and part dragon. Cthulhu is a subterranean creature, of Greek Chthonic and mythological origins that in nothing can be concomitant to Colombian culture, predominantly because it was often referred by the Greeks as a spirit from the underworld, an epithet of chaos, disorder and destruction, which contradicts this year’s illustration of Rock Al Parque Festival, which claims to appraise the cultural upright of Colombia in a peaceful manner.
Notwithstanding, regardless of the fact that Rock Al Parque Festival organization avow that the illustration portraits an enigmatic concept that symbolizes both culture and peace, it remains quite questionable. Colombian cultural equality on said poster is somehow diverge and antithetical, as it seems that the illustrative quintessence clash in favour of internationalization rather than nationalization, this not to mention that the leather vest is completely abstained and merely a vogue to be seen amongst Rock Al Parque Festival enthusiasts. If we take into consideration that most commonly, jean jackets are weared in concerts, and that the adornment of studs and spikes only incites to violence, then again, the poster mirrors controversy.
The clothing associated with heavy metal has its roots in the biker, rocker, and leather subcultures, and unlike the intent to portray it, or not, as a cultural adornment on Rock Al Parque Festival, it truly relates to the earlier 1978’s, popularized by Judas Priest when Rob Halford took the stage when promoting their ‘Killing Machine (Hell Bent For Leather)’ album in the United States. It is indeed a United States culture, later adopted by other countries such as Colombia that sees the United States as an exemplar culture to follow, even thus at a second-rate, and fails to portray its own indigenous characteristics that somehow, would benefit more a poster that should, by all means, reflect the Colombian culture toward international borders, instead of sinfully remaining as “just another metal poster” with little substance to be held, or due importance.
“Cultura De Paz” (translation reads: Culture Of Peace) takes over the lower back of the jacket in a time that Bogotá is siding a serious complication with security, this ironically when lately videos are published at an immense scale by apprehensive Colombians on social networks showing their dissatisfaction regarding local authorities, and their deficiency to provide safety measures to make their peace of mind. In whatever way, the political objective here shows signs of an attempt to instigate metalheads attending the festival, to be more tolerant and respectful toward one another. If that is the case, from a personal perspective, I wish them the best of luck conscientizing those that attend the shows not to be entertained with the music.
The overall poster is layered in crimson colors, again contradicting in full the “peace” motive, which in ancient Rome red symbolizes blood and courage, and in modern times, it also sometimes represents sin, death and war! Unless the artists are more entwined into the imperialism set by the Spanish in 1499, the use of a color that stands for conquest and colonization by many nations, including my own country, Portugal, should have been completely alienated from the artistic concept. Even thus, I must admit that the color red can be interpreted in an entirely different manner, such as the sacred in both western and eastern cultures.
Nevertheless, I am very unapologetic about keeping the roots of a country as a part of anything proposed to be cultural. The use of a more Paleoamerican approach would resound more neo-cultural than a Greek mythological creature, thereafter reflecting the country in a more indigenous and respectful concept that would certainly appeal to everyone with a deep passion for Colombian history. In a way, it would instigate an educational purpose as well, by educating metal heads rather than following Euro-American tendencies that merely serve to commercialize an event that claims to represent Colombia.
The aforementioned calamity regarding the poster coming from Colombians and not all, as fellow Europeans of mine also healy criticized the visual abstraction, regrettably echoes loudly mostly due to Lobo similarities, other than incorporating a Greek mythological creature that is representing a South American event of such grandeur toward the world.
In which regards with the selection of acts set to perform at Rock Al Parque Festival, I totally agree that better alternatives could be picked. For instance, some of the acts performing at Rock Al Parque Festival have already been in the country months prior to the incoming edition, which prompts a feeling of unfairness to those that beforehand paid to see Behemoth. As for the opportunity to support local acts, it remains questionable, as I became conscious that many Colombian acts often perform on Rock Al Parque Festival repetitively while others are drastically unshadowed by the proposition of the organizers. Yet, I will not lengthen my article any further, and bid my farewell while leaving avid and open-minded individuals to reflect upon all which has been written, otherwise, “bite me!”