Coco, Un Poco Loco

9 12 2017

By Abel Macias

A Chicano’s dilemma with the film by Pixar

I begin by saying, that I went to go watch the movie, not once, but twice and hope to watch it again, but this time in español.

My dilemma

As an educator, when I began to come across media advertisements for the film I thought it would be a good topic of discussion for my Chicana/o Studies classes. I showed the trailer for the film in my classes and I also shared the controversy around the attempt by Disney to copyright the former title Dia de los Muertos.

I allowed my students to decide whether they would watch the film and whether they felt that Lalo Alcaraz had contradicted himself when he signed on as a cultural consultant. This was an effort to promote discussion and critical thought.

However, after watching the trailer a few times, I actually thought this would be a good film to take my little nieces to. One of them being age one and the other age five. I knew both of them enjoyed watching the film Moana, another Disney film about a young Polynesia girl who turns out to be the hero. I thought to myself why shouldn’t my nieces enjoy a film about their own people and culture.161207_coco_miguel_14a435b7bb6824aba3954206a8ed8480.nbcnews-fp-1200-800

Realistically only I would know about what had happened a year prior with Disney and I was willing to put that aside, since it was only my politics that I was sacrificing in order for my nieces to have a good time. I knew this was just going to be a window into the world of their culture, but it would be a window on the big screen, one that they could identify with hopefully.

Rumble in the Jungle

There were some rumblings on social media about how Chicanas/os shouldn’t see the film, but I knew it wasn’t as simple as that. I knew this situation called for a different response.

My analysis was of the broader society and this decision warranted a more sophisticated approach that took into account many factors, not just a decision based on a blanket position against all corporations and their products. After all we use many products in order to function in our daily lives that are produced as a result of capitalism. We have to be able function in our daily lives and not get hung up on issues that are not going to prevent us from carrying out our work or ability to prosper as human beings. This film was definitely not going to harm us and actually did the opposite and gave me great pleasure in being able to witness a tradition that is related to my people and culture.

The Unfortunate Reality

Unfortunately, the bigger picture here is not whether we should see the film or not, but that we even have to be having this debate.  Chicanas/os can’t just go to the movies and enjoy themselves like “normal Americans”. We constantly have to be wary of what we are going to see when we go to the movies. The history of Hollywood has historically been bad for our people. We have had to endure decades of stereotypical portrayals of our community and culture. That is if we are even given a voice, many times we are relegated to the margins of a script and used only as props to support the heroification of someone else.

One day we will be able to just enjoy ourselves at the movies, but that day won’t come until we change society and until then, we have to extract the benefits from the dominant cultural productions that surround us, while at the same time trying to influence them, since these reach the broadest audiences.

By the way, the film has surpassed expectations and surpassed other box office hits and was number one in it’s second week and looking good going into its third week, the only thing that will stop it is Star Wars. dj-star-wars-the-last-jediMay the fuerza be with you and don’t forget to enjoy yourself when you soak in some scifi fun, because even Chicanos/as love Jedi’s and their crazy friends like Chewie. Oh another by the way if you hated on Coco, don’t let me catch you at the theater watching the Last Jedi, ‘cuz guess who owns Lucas Films now? Yes, Walt Disney cabrones.


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7 responses

9 12 2017
mexika.org

I just had Lalo Alcaraz on my podcast where we talk about all of these things. You may find it interesting. Thehardcorearchaeologist.com episode 1.

10 12 2017
Abel

Oh cool I will have to check it out when I get the chance. I did see an interview he did in New Mexico for a local channel, interesting comment he made concerning these questions.

9 12 2017
Roberto Rodriguez

Wait a minute, this read like an intro. Where’s the critique? It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with anyone. The point is you allude to something but you don’t actually get to thee crux of matter. Maybe I’m wrong but it sure felt like it was but an intro.

10 12 2017
Abel

I agree it was more like an intro. I really wasn’t interested in getting into a debate on what I thought about the movie, I will let people form their own opinions, but my point was more about the fact that we even have to take an either or position, when others walk into theaters with justice compass, they just walk in for pure enjoyment. I wonder why we Chicanas/os can’t also choose to do that in order to extract the benefits of a film we may find problematic in some ways?

10 12 2017
Roberto Rodriguez

Truthfully, this is not about agreeing or disagreeing, but this review sounds like an intro to a review. Not a review itself.

10 12 2017
Abel

Thanks for the reply, input.

10 12 2017
Abel

By the way, want to check out your book on Maiz, this winter and see if I can incorporate it in my class for the spring. Gracias por su trabajo.

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