Homies

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Homies are a series of 2-inch figurines based upon Chicano (Mexican American) characters in the life of artist David Gonzales.[1] They were first created in 1997, coming from a comic strip that David Gonzales created;[2] these plastic figurines initially sold in vending machines mainly located in supermarkets. Homies have become a highly collectible item among fans. Many imitation toys have hit the market following the success of Homies. The figures caused controversy after their initial release as members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), argued that the figures glorified gang life. Many stores stopped selling the toys after the LAPD complained.[2] Gonzales then created a story for each of the Homies' characters, each of which portrayed a positive view of the characters. For example, some of them became former jail mates who went on to educate children about how to avoid jail.[1] Homies also came around to helping adolescents with identifying who they are.[3]

Mainstream stores, such as Walmart, quickly returned the Homies to their stocks, and the toy branched out to include a line of die cast cars, among other things. By 2005, the Homies character line had women, Filipino, Japanese, and Puerto Rican, and even Evil Clown characters. The Puerto Ricans set, which includes twelve of the Homies, are nicknamed Los Boricuas. According to Gonzales, he has received orders from countries in Europe, South America and Africa requesting characters representing people from those continents. In 2004, the creators of Homies, created "Los Mijos" intended for a younger audience. They are solely Hispanic and are portrayed as kids, babies, and teens. In 2007, a show was made about the figures called The Homies Hip Hop Show. The show had many negative reviews saying the figures don't even move, all they do is stand there and shake. The show did make it to DVD.

Creator[edit]

Cartoonist David Gonzales created Homies in 1997.[1] Gonzales was one of five boys who were very close to one another; however, they each strived for different things. Gonzales lived in a rough neighborhood and went to a Roman Catholic school, begging his parents to put him in public school because the art program was better.[1] David attended California College of the Arts in Oakland and worked for the Lowrider magazine which was the birth of the Homies.[1] He has three children and currently lives in California.[1] Since the Homies were created, he had been questioned constantly by LAPD because they featured characteristics of members in a gang.[1] After 1997, Homies have brought Gonzales much closer to celebrities and national magazines.[1]

Media Aspects[edit]

Not only are they seen as little figurines, but also on other media templates. Gonzales has created a background for each Homie to have their own story. “His characters have adorned back-to-school folders, lunchboxes, breath mints, and beach towels." [1] An art museum in California even displayed an exhibit of the Homies. Not only are they seen on the streets but also on the screens of video games like Nintendo.[1] Homies have also been seen in “comic strips, on posters, stickers, and clothing, in drawings in Lowrider Arte magazine, in a Homie Rollerz video game and in Youtube videos”.[3] Images of the Homies have been spotted all over the web and other mass media.[3] Homies were a huge hit in the late 90’s due to all the media coverage. Gonzales made sure that the Homies were authentic because they were based on Latinos in his community.[3]

Negative Aspects[edit]

Homies depict characters from the barrio, wearing bandanas and baggy pants.[1] Gangsters are usually depicted by wearing these types of clothes, and police thought of the Homies promoting gang life.[2] These two inch figures are believed to show a negative image because they perpetuate gross stereotypes.[2] Homies are so close in detail to what a gang member looks like that a district deputy attorney mentioned they were going to use Homies as an example of what not to wear. People who were dressed as such Homies were going to be considered as violating probation.[4] Law enforcement even pressured retailers at supermarkets to stop selling Homies at the stores because it was considered negative publicity.[4] Gonzales was interviewed a number of times, and with each interview, he explained that he “did not create Homies to glamorize gang life.” [4]

Positive Aspects[edit]

Homies are also known to help the community. They have been known to help Latinos with their identities due to the different roles each Homie was given by Gonzales.[3] The personalities of the Homies may reflect a person which allows that person to identify themselves to that Homie.[3] This helps Latinos identify themselves in the communities who may be shy or confused about who they are. Another positive way the Homies have influenced society is through Gonzales’s brother, Robert. Robert ended up on the streets and getting into trouble, which led him to jail. He later wanted to turn his life around and asked his family to forgive him.[1] In 1996, Robert became an online priest, helping those looking for a way out of the bad life by using Homies. David Gonzales created Homies that weren’t gang related and started a new era of Homies. Robert suggested a homeboy in a wheelchair that is named Willy G, since Willy G was created the Special Olympics wanted to get involved and promote Willy G for the better.[1] Soon after the Padrecito (priest) was created, and resembles Robert; he was used to connect and help those looking for a route out of the ghetto.[1] Homies are now used to help people in the community through “El Padrecito’s Online Church.” This soon created religious figurines such as saints.[1] Homies have made it easier for society to connect to them and reach for help to getting a better life.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Becerra, Hector (18 Dec 2007). "Homies’ are where the art is". LA Times. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sanchez, George. "Toys in the Hood". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Wortham, Stanton (1 January 2011). "Homies in the New Latino Diaspora". ScholarlyCommon: 1–28. doi:10.1016/j.langcom.2011.02.007. 
  4. ^ a b c Alonso, Alex. "Homies Figures- The Original Homies". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 

External links[edit]