Monday, November 29

‘The age of anger’: adolescent luminosity against the homophobic wave in Spain | TV

Nando López, a former high school professor turned prolific and successful writer, published Age of anger in 2010, five years after the Zapatero government approved the same-sex marriage law. He did it because “he needed to vomit the violence” that he was attending at that time in class, he explains one afternoon in mid-October, during the filming that he adapts his text to television.

“I wanted to say that homophobia continued to exist then, despite the fact that the legal framework seemed to say otherwise, and that it shares roots with sexist violence. 11 years have passed and we should be able to say that these things no longer happen, but not only do they happen, but they are legitimized by political parties ”, he laments.

The homonymous series that Atresmedia TV prepares in collaboration with Big Bang Media (The Mediapro Studio) and Masficción is starring Manu Ríos (Elite) and can be seen in early 2022 on Atresplayer Premium. It shows in four chapters the difficulties that adolescents currently experience to face their sexual identity and the obstacles they find in the educational system and in their own families.

The plot, adapted to today’s Spanish youth, begins with the brutal murder of a man, presumably at the hands of his son Marcos, a popular teenager with no apparent problems. Throughout the episodes, the viewer will learn more about the young man and his environment: his best friends, his life in high school and his complicated family situation. Issues such as LGTBIphobia and harassment hover over the story, but also the luminosity of adolescence, through the friendship forged by a group of friends played by Ríos himself together with Amaia Aberasturi and Daniel Ibáñez. “There is something in the series that adds a point of hope to the social criticism that I wrote,” López celebrates about this adaptation of a text that La Joven Compañía brought to the theater in 2017 and amplified its pedagogical potential.

For Jesús Rodrigo, director of the series, one of the objectives of this story for all audiences is to generate conversation between parents and children and that “the viewer does not remain seated on the sofa, but is involved in the story, among the characters, ”he says. “We want to show the poetry of that time of life, but also provide large doses of realism,” he continues. He himself surprised his 14-year-old son by watching a series like Breaking Bad, “That it can educate you visually, but that I was concerned about the issues you were dealing with. I sat down to talk to him and saw that he understood what was being said in it, ”he says.

The weight of the plot of 'The Age of Wrath' falls on Manu Ríos, who plays the adolescent Marcos.
The weight of the plot of ‘The Age of Wrath’ falls on Manu Ríos, who plays the adolescent Marcos.Olga Martin

Regression in classrooms

Although he is no longer a teacher, López continues to go to classrooms to give talks about his books. In them he has continued to notice the regression experienced in them since he wrote the novel, including teachers who censor LGTBI + texts because they consider them a gender ideology or students whose parents forbid them to attend their colloquia.

Only in recent months, the death of Samuel Luiz has been chained at the doors of a nightclub in A Coruña, (the investigation is open and the victim’s environment denounces that it was a homophobic aggression) the Nazi demonstration held in Chueca and the detention of several minors for assaulting a homosexual couple in Elche. In 2019 there was a significant increase in crimes for sexual orientation and gender identity. There were 278 cases, 8.6% more than the previous year, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior. In 2020, only one less case was registered, despite being a year of confinement and restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The age of anger like Poison and Cardo, it comes at an exact moment, presenting a very timely reflection of reality that stirs the viewer ”, says Montse García, fiction director of Atresmedia TV about Atresplayer Premium’s commitment to this type of content.

Jesús Rodrigo (with his back turned) directs Manu Rios (center) and Eloy Azorín during the filming of 'The Age of Wrath'.
Jesús Rodrigo (with his back turned) directs Manu Rios (center) and Eloy Azorín during the filming of ‘The Age of Wrath’.Olga Martin

In the scene that the team of Age of anger is filming in an institute in the north of Madrid, during one of his last working days, a very intimate conversation takes place between the protagonist and his Literature teacher, who offers to help him beyond school hours. The adult character, played by Eloy Azorín, serves as a metaphor for Nando López’s past experiences. “It reflects the impotence that teachers feel, saturated and without means, in the face of such serious and everyday situations as that of Marcos,” says the writer.

“A book or a television series can do much more than a thousand reports or a thousand messages on Twitter. We have so much over-information, that it is very difficult for things to affect us. And a story like this, told in such an honest way, can hit the key necessary to achieve it ”, explains Azorín. Manu Ríos, on whom the weight of the whole plot rests, at 22, admires the “evolution that the character of Marcos experiences, who begins as a very lost adolescent.” Due to his not too distant experience as a high school student, he believes that awareness of issues such as harassment and homophobia “begins in high schools and in homes,” he says just before filming his scene with Azorín.

“Adolescence has always been a complex and profound age that marks us forever. But before it was counted from the prejudice of the stereotype ”, remembers López. Azorín, who was already appearing on the screen at the end of the nineties, before he turned 20, admits that Ríos’ work in embodying young people today is more complicated than in his time: “Now there are more layers when it comes to representing a teenager. You have to be very respectful with issues such as physicality or sexuality, which we previously passed over ”.

“I feel that there is a commitment from the team to tell the story from a place that moves, but at the same time makes you think. If there was a time when it was necessary to roll Age of anger it is now ”, assures its author.

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