Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix

A Venezuelan satire duo takes on the 2016 race in an animated series

By Janell Ross

February 17, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Have you ever wanted to just send all the 2016 presidential candidates into space together? Well, a new cartoon does it for you.

"Heads of Space," which premiered online Tuesday, is an occasional animated Web series and accompanying daily Web-based newspaper (distributed via Univision's digital platform), created by a Venezuelan political satire duo and produced with the help of people in three countries and several U.S. cities.

It aims to bring whatever clarity that comedy can provide to the United States's increasingly raucous presidential campaign, by placing animated versions of the real-life characters -- err, candidates -- in an absurd Armageddon-like situation that can only be rectified by colonizing a planet largely believed to be inhospitable to human life.

The fact that "Heads of Space" enters the already-crowded American political satire space sans the faux newsman, in a suit, behind a desk, on a cable network format that's come to dominate American political comedy is, of course, in and of itself a kind of commentary. But that really is not all.

Think of "Heads of Space" as Spaceballs-meets-Armageddon-meets-Archer-meets-the-Daily-Show in English with Spanish subtitles. All of that too is a kind of reflection of and read on American life and culture.

In fact, one of the creative minds behind "Archer" is directly involved. So too are creative types affiliated with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and Los Angeles, Web producers in Colombia and Venezuela, and voice actors, writers and animators in several cities around the United States. This is a production that would not be possible without the Web, available to the public via the Web. And it's made with all the Internet era's demanding efficiencies. There is one guy in Detroit, for example, providing the voice of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Donald Trump and former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R). But see if you can tell.

By some estimates there are about 50,000 young Latino Americans who turn 18 and become eligible, but not necessarily registered, to vote in the United States each month. Univision, the nation's top-rated Spanish-language network, is eager to boost the share of its audience that is a part of this young, multi-cultural, multi-lingual but often English-dominant group of Americans. So, every word, wry joke and bit of biting but, what the creators say is non-partisan, humor on "Heads of Space" happens in English with Spanish subtitles.

And while that, of course, makes business and even cultural sense in a country where the population is changing like that of the United States, the series's co-creators -- Oswaldo Graziani and Juan Ravell -- also told The Fix that creatively, they had little choice.

How precisely would one do a deep-Brooklyn accent (Bernie Sanders) or convey the word "yuge" (Donald Trump) in Spanish? There is no equivalent.

And Graziani and Ravell likely know of what they speak. Gaziani serves as a creative vice president at Plop, the Latin American digital production company which created "Heads of Space" and a long-running satirical website and political parody series lampooning Latin American leaders so popular that it was as much a part of passing conversation in that region as the "Daily Show" is in the United States.

Now, you can judge the humor level for yourself. But, we're just telling you that this take on the many takes of the American presidential candidates is out there, in the cultural and political ether, and set in outer space.

Do with that what you will.


Janell Ross covers race along with the social and political implications of the nation's rapidly changing demographics. Janell's Emerging America beat is part of the Washington Post's National Desk.

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