Superamas Sep 19, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

We found our seats near the front. A beautiful woman in tight fitting jeans and red heals took the mic. Downstage, a man started strumming a guitar. I started tapping my foot to a song I thought I knew, but couldn’t quite remember. A few minutes later the whole cast came downstage to sing the refrain, coaxing the audience to clap along to the uplifting beat. My sister turned to me and whispered,  “I’m not clapping, they’re fucking with us. ” What followed is a series of satirical variations on scenes we know: incestuous drama at band practice, competitive dance-off in a club, confident babes gossiping about sex in the locker room, a spiritual support group for lonely schmucks dedicated to releasing personal anxiety, a self-conscious video montage documenting Superamas’ successful run in New York. While splattered with titillating scenes of half-dressed, gorgeous women, a sophisticated sound design and seamless transitions between video and live action, Big, 3rd episode (happy/end) only seems interested in making one simple point: in a media driven, commodified culture we are under a constant deluge of images. Whatever the medium, whether it be music, television, print, or film, the intention of the producers is to distill our base desires, repackage them and sell them back to us. All pop culture is a manipulation in order to sell us something. And the more we struggle to assert our individuality through the available mediums, the more we become part of the club. Most of us know this already, but I will admit that in the daily routine, it’s easy to forget. Superamas is here to remind us what’s really going on, by repeating recognizable scenes over and over again with slight variation, stopping occasionally to catch us watching, or accenting a character through light and sound to hammer it home--we are all self-consciously created individuals, presenting ourselves in a calculated way in order to mask our deep insecurities. Repetition with slight variation is a device that can subtly shift the mood and tone very effectively when infused with an inventive imagination (I’m thinking of the inspiring piece from Dorky Park a few years back and the way they made similar points through a mash of repeated movement, and pop culture iconography, then shattered our expectations in deliciously chaotic ways), but unfortunately in the case of Superamas, a dull, satirical cleverness takes precedent. The group is definitely successful in what they set out to do, but I think this piece is pretty slight and obvious in what it wants to say—it’s slick, and stylistically unified, but lacks genuine physical grace and guts. I felt Superamas’ creative impulse was sort of cannibalized by its own mission of exposing our collective artificiality. Still, I encourage you to go to the show this weekend and decide for your self. - Braden