Disney-Pixar Animation Studios’ new film “Coco” has been introduced with great fanfare in both sides of the border. The movie has done well domestically. It made a little over $70 million in the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And it was an utter success in Mexico, and it made almost $50 million. Enough. I will leave to others to write more about how great this movie is.
I want to laser-focus on another story that has been utterly ignored. Disney shouldn’t be telling our story. This corporation doesn’t have a good history with Latinos in Calfornia, from refusing to pay its fair share in Anaheim, home in where the majority are Latinos, to joining Pete Wilson back in the 1990s in attacking our communities. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I dislike Disney with a passion for the obvious reasons.
I dug up information, wanted to know how the Coco, the film was first conceived. It was in 2010 when a non-Latino filmmaker, Matthew Aldrich first thought about taking on this animated endeavor. Most of the interviews and reviews that I have read give this director all the credit for the success of the film. You wouldn’t know that there is another Latino director there, Adrian Molina, unless it is a Latino network with a Latino audience. It seems that most of the Latinos added to the crew are being used just to sell the movie to our community.
I also unearthed that Disney back in 2013 stupidly filed an application with the Patent and Trademark organization to have ownership of the phrase “Dia de Los Muertos.” There is a lot that can be extrapolated about this stupidity, for starters it is clear that Latinos have yet to gain the needed power to protect their interest in this society. No corporation will ever dare to do something like this against another group in this country.
Pushing back against Disney for trying to trademark our culture, Cartoonist Alcaraz published an iconic poster (the one below ). It was widely published, and our community was agitated and forcefully demanded Disney to stop the stupidity in trying to have ownership of that phrase. These disgusting corporate forces want to trademark “tu cultura,” he told all his followers who admire him and who are receptive to his messages display on his cartoons. Disney eventually realized its stupidity and withdrew the trademark application.
It was not the first time that Cartoonist Alcaraz sparred with Disney. Back in the 1990s, when Disney supported Pete Wilson the most anti-Latinos/immigrants in California. I vividly remember Mr. Alcaraz’s “Migra Mouse” that he published to reject Disney’s support for an anti-immigrant politician and governor for California,
After that fiasco, Disney/ Pixar wised up and wanted to avoid being accused of exploiting ethnic folklore out of willingly or unwillingly ignorance. So they started seeking for Latino consultants who were willing to attach their names to the film and selling it to our community.
Now, I wish one could have told me to brace for this. Disney reached out and asked Lalo Alcaraz, its biggest foe at one point to join the company for this Coco movie. Everyone extrapolated that Disney had no chance to persuade Mr. Alcaraz to join them in light of how ruthlessly disrespectful Disney had been toward Latinos. He couldn’t resist and he joined them.
Everyone was speculating as to what Chicano writer in Orange County was going to say about this film and Alcaraz working for Disney. It was common knowledge that both Arellano and Alcaraz are close and that both like to promote each other. Gustavo Arellano finally wrote a piece (click here for link). Arellano swung and missed. He pathetically ended up marketing the film for Disney. I was dumbfounded to read Arellano’s piece. Since Arellano knows firsthand how the happiest place on earth is bleeding dry the city of Anaheim. Evidently, speaking truth to power to our oppressors is easy speaking truth to power to our friends requires strength
Really, how and why our community’s artists and leaders have no qualms about selling out like that? Alcaraz became the marketing mouth-piece for Disney/Pixar and he might have used his reputation to appease or silence other Chicanos who are usually skeptical of being too close to the corporate power. The Chicano revolutionaries, the anti-capitalism, and anti-corporate power are nowhere to be found. Yes, how does one transform from being a firebrand Chicano activist fighting for the ‘”cause” with his art to become a servant to the plutocracy? This man should be a case study in the lecture halls at UC Santa Barbara’s Chicano Studies Department. A place that is known as the epicenter of Chicano/a Studies.
This was a major league sell-out. It truly illuminates with startling clarity the status of our community. Our leaders in non-profits, in elected offices and business they all appear to have a price. A note on another sell-out, recently, Los Angeles Times published a piece in which highlighted all the greedy corporations that former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa works for (click here for link). The former mayor is now a millionaire. He consults for Herbalife, a corporation that bilks poor immigrants. It has become the norm not the exception for our leaders to engage in this unethical and repulsive behavior.
It is vastly evident that corporate America is corrupting all ways of life in this society. The Websters Dictionary defines Plutocracy as a government of the wealthy. Indeed, It is difficult not to argue that for the last three decades this country has fallen into this system in which the levers of power have been hijacked by corporations.
Intellectuals and academics fret and warn us that our liberty is not sustainable when the captains of industry are in charge of our democratic institutions. The abundance of resources that the corporate sectors enjoy give them the power to control institutions of our democracy. That control is vital for the protection of the corporate interest. The game is rigged, and all those advocating for anything that would conflict with corporate power will have no chance. Our leaders are incapable of resisting to advance their economic interest and end up objectifying and commodifying our people’s struggle.
There is that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life where the film’ protagonist, George Bailey rejects to be bought out by a greedy pig banker who was continually seeking to enrich himself on the back of the poor in this town. The aggressive slumlord and evil banker, Henry Porter failed to buy out the young idealist, George Bailey. The honest and dedicated family man who runs a small community bank from Bedford Falls, N.Y, refused to sell out. Any individual who advocates for the masses must learn a thing or two from George Bailey. Selling out must feel good in a short term but in the long run, it might not be sustainable. Our community is hungry for more George Baileys with steely spines who reason that the collective interest should always exceed one’s personal or financial interest.
Finally, I was surprised to learn that in the afterlife, as being presented in the ‘Coco’ film, might very well be a class society. Based on the images of the places shown in the movie, one might surmise that there is poverty there. So, we now know why true progressives and socialists are in tears while watching this corporate film. Or maybe our people cry because they are being forced to watch that stupid 21-minute Frozen short film at the beginning. Long live capitalism!
Thank you for reading.
Arellano, Gustavo. “How Disney Redeemed Itself With ‘Coco’ After the Dia De Los Muertos Trademark Fiasco.” 16 Nov. 2017. Web. Nov. 24 2017.
Crump, Andy. “Why ‘Coco’ Feels Like an Act of Defiance.” The Hollywood Reporter 25 Nov. 2017. Web. 26 Nov. 2017.
De La Fuente, Anna Marie. “Pixar’s Coco Moves Morelia to Tears.” Variety 21st Oct. 2017. Web. 26 Nov. 2017.
Garrity, Shaenon K. “Why Disney/Pixar Hired One of Its Biggest Critics to Work on Its New Movie. io9 gizmode 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2017.
It’s a Wonderful Life. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore. Liberty Films, 1947 Film.
McNary, Dave. “Box Office: ‘Coco’ Topping ‘Justice League’ With $70 Million Over Thanksgiving Weekend.” Variety 22nd Nov. 2017.
Miller, Daniel. ” Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim.” Los Angeles Times 24 Sept. 2017. Web. 23 Nov. 2017
“Plutocracy.” Entry 1. Merrian-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed. 1988. Print.
Robison, Joanna. “Pixar’s Coco is a ‘ Love Letter to Mexico’ in the Age of Trump.” Vanity Fair 6th Dec. 2016. Web. Nov. 23, 2017.
Scannell, Herb. “Neglecting the Latino Community Is Hollywood’s Multibillion-dollar Missed Opportunity.” Addweek-Voice 16 Nov. 2017. Web. 26 Nov. 2017. Spiegel, Josh. “What Disney Finally Gets Right With Coco.” Hollywood Reporter 23rd November 2017. Web. Nov. 25th, 2017.
Tagliani, Herna. “6 Reasons Corporate America Misses Out On Trillions of Hispanics Dollars.” Entrepreneur 1 June 2017. Web. 26 Nov. 2017.
Ugwu, Reggie. “How Pixar Made Sure ‘Coco’ Was Culturally Conscious.” New York Times 19 Nov. 2017. Web. 23 Nov. 2017.