Yesterday, immediately after writing about how Disney will only be showing Coco to Spanish audiences in Mexican Spanish, a first in over 25 years, my neighbor asked me to go watch the movie with him. He’s also Mexican, so I figured his presence would make the experience extra-Mexican.
So Coco is fine. Some people hate it, apparently, but the flick has been grossing insane amounts of money here in the States, and it’s already the highest-grossing movie in Mexico ever. I’m not writing a review, just a bunch of observations, and warning: You may not want to read the following if you haven’t seen the movie.
1) I might be Walter Mercado
I initially made fun of Miguel, the protagonist, when I said he wanted to be a reggaetonero, but my dumb joke turned out to be almost true: Coco is about a boy’s ambition of becoming a musician, and his family’s stifling reaction towards his dream.
Walter Mercado, GTFO. I love you, but from now on I’ll be the one dressing up in fabulous outfits and predicting shit.
2) Coco is good, but…
Coco is well-written, the story is engaging, and half of the characters are funny. I say half because, with the exception of the narcoleptic great-grandma and Frida Kahlo (we’ll get to her in a bit), the rest of the women are super bitchy and in constant consternation. They’re characterized as being hard workers and luchonas, which is fine, but they’re also sourpusses. The abuelita character offsets some of that grouchiness by being caring and kind, but most of female characters in Coco are essentially sufridas and abnegadas, states of mind which have long hunted Mexican women.
3) We’re easy pray
It’s scary how well Coco preys on Mexican nostalgia. Everything from shots of exquisite pan dulce, alebrijes (colorful and fantastic mythical creatures, see above), to the beautiful colonial town. It’s safe to say that at least half of Mexicans in Mexico don’t celebrate Day of the Dead, yet this movie makes a very strong case for one to pick it up.
(I compared notes with my Mexican-raised friends, which hail from Mexico City, Coahuila, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Baja California, and Michoacán, and only the michoacano was privy to the holiday.)
4) Language barrier (wall?) #trumpjokeorsomething
I watched the movie in English, and I can tell some of the jokes, songs, and other bits probably worked better in Spanish. Still, I wanted to watch Coco in English because I’m far more interested in what the American public, and other English-speakers, are going to pick up from the movie. I was still surprised by the amount of Spanish that was left in the English version, but, really, no part of the dialogue falls flat because it’s not in Spanish.
In short, English-speakers are not really losing out on anything major.
5) Kill your idols
Gael García Bernal voices Héctor, one of the main characters, and I don’t love it. Gael was obviously attached to the project so his name would give Coco more Mexican cred, but he doesn’t have a great speaking voice. It’s passable, sure, but Gael’s voice is not colorful. And don’t get me started on his singing. *Blow your brains emoji*
6) Again, kill your idols, even in the afterlife
Frida Kahlo is portrayed as a wacky, silly artist, and it’s actually funny. I had a feeling she was going to be shoehorned because Americans love her, and she was. (Side note: remember when Madonna wanted to play Frida in a movie, but Salma Hayek cockblocker her?)
Listen, Frida is great, but it’s time to give other Mexican artists the spotlight. Even a Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz cameo would have been more novel. The same goes for the “Llorona” song – I mean, it’s a good song, but damn, find yourselves a new weepy ranchera, people. Juanga’s “Muerto en vida” would have been excellent alternative.
7) We’d like to wake up now, please
Circling back to #3, I can’t help but feel that it’s still weird that American media won’t portray Mexico in a modern setting. Listen, Coco is not offensive, but it seems that every time an American company makes a movie or a reference to Mexico, positive or not, it’s always old-timey Mexico. It’s my great-grandma’s Mexico – with kitschy cantinas, cobble stones, haciendas, donkeys, etc – but never modern Mexico, where a lot of
hipsterism modernism has been running rampant for decades.
The fact that Disney-Pixar decided to play up the old-school angle makes monetary sense. A lot of the Mexicans who live in the US – Yours Truly included – come from small towns that look like the town in Coco. However, even the residents of those towns know these portrayals are extremely dated, so nobody would be fooled if a modern Mexico was suddenly portrayed.
Unfortunately, old-timey Mexico is the Mexico everyone – even snooty, upper class Mexicans – cherish, so I’m not sure any of this is going to change anytime soon.
8) Coco really is good, but stop overanalyzing, maybe
Coco is meant to be a children’s movie, so a lot my observations might be way too intense for its intended purpose. I’m aware of that.
In fact, since Mexican culture is being treated with respect by Disney-Pixar, I genuinely hope it encourages a new generation of children to be curious about not just Mexican culture, but other colorful cultures in general.
When I was 5, I came to America fascinated by its technology, food, language, and it was all thanks to American cartoons. Hopefully Coco will inspire a similar curiosity in other children.
It’s a thankless job, but would you like to rant for Rictus?
Are you Latino, Latina, or Latinx? If you’re not, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you lived in Latin America, or know Latino culture well. More importantly, do you have a funny, witty, dumb, eye-opening, or virgen María-blessed insight about something? A personal story, a political view, groundbreaking analysis, or dissenting review about a movie, record, city, art show, or something nobody cares about?
Maybe nobody cares about whatever you’re interested in because you haven’t written about it. Share your thoughts with strangers! You may get even some virtual likes on social media, and that’s how people count happiness in 2018, right?
José and I have a lot of fun here at Rictus, but it’s fun to publish contrasting voices. We don’t make any money, so neither will you. This is really just about you loving the written word, as we do.
Some shit to consider:
- Can be as short as 300 words, or as long as you think you can hold people’s attention with your awesome wordsmithery.
- It’s a lot more important — to us, anyway — that you’re funny, insightful, or engaging about whateverthefuckyouwriteabout than a being a super professional writer, so don’t be shy.
- In English, please. We may add a Spanish section later, but, yeah, English werds, for now.
- You can use a pen name. Maybe you work at some conservative think tank and and don’t want to be found out. That’s fine. Use your superhero name.
- You should already have a good pitch. What do you know, or have strong opinions about, that others don’t? Are you mad about something you recently saw in the news? Does your aunt drive you crazy? Have you noticed an interesting pattern in penis owners? Are you a media geek? Do you love celebrities, but hate their dumb looks?
Broke, youthful & repressed: Things you’re too dumb to appreciate in your 20s
Are you trying to get through your 20s gracefully? Then you’ve come to the wrong place — and I don’t mean this website, I mean this planet. But this website too, maybe.
Listen, you will make horrible mistakes during your existence because #youth. But pay attention because, even if you don’t get past your 20s with some grace, you may be able to get by with some dignity.
1) You poor, endearing bastard
Ah, to be young, dumb, and full of cumulative social issues. As a broke twentysomething, you’re usually too self-conscious to realize that your youth, in a strange way, sanctions your destitution. You realize you’re poor — that’s obviously not the issue — but instead of making it your warcry, and finding strength in a nothing-to-lose attitude, you burden yourself attempting to portray the opposite.
Maybe you’re still trying to prove to society — and your parents, most of all — that you’re an independent, responsible, adult-ass person. You really want that vindication, especially if you spent tons of money on getting edumacated. Yet, you’re between a precious little window of time when society is still willing to forgive your poverty, access to influence, and lack of experience.
Ah, but once you reach your 30s? Let’s just say the Eye of Sauron has nothing on people’s judgemental gaze.
There are exceptions, of course, and if you come from money, none of what I just wrote will make sense to you. But in short, youngsters tend to misuse the grace period their youth affords them.
2) Foooreeever young. You’re gonna be, foooreeever dumb.
So you’re a young blood under the impression that your physical and mental machinations will go on forever because you can, like, totally wake up in the middle of the night with tons of ideas and inspiration, even if you got wasted at a party the day before.
And, whatever — you still have a baggie full of coke in your coat, even if it’s 60% baby formula. You can snort it at any point to get an extra kick, but why not save it for the next party? Because your work ethic is just unstoppable, and the thought of physical deterioration seems incredibly foreign.
Little do you know that nature is maniacally cackling behind a crystal ball in a deep lair within your body. It’s waiting to play a cruel joke on your dumbass, and when it’s time — in your 30s — it will begin by sabotaging your stamina.
That’s only the first part of nature’s cruel plan. The second phase is a lot more sinister because, although you’re left with a portion of the physical energy you used to have, a psychological hangup will turn all of your unfinished, half-realized ideas into regrets.
Suddenly, when you’re in the middle of a Netflix ‘n chill session, half-watching the 25th episode of some stupid show you don’t even like, nature will bitingly turn to your formally unstoppable will to say: “Where’s your messiah now?”
Its grim, I know. The point is, if you come to terms with the fact that age will physically slow you down, and you do so when you’re still young, it may push you focus on whatever you think is truly important.
3) Unlike complicated emotional bonds, sex stupid, but fun.
Sex is fun, but incredibly stupid. Stripped of all of the symbolism polite society instills on copulation, either through romcoms, music, books, or coming of age parties (see quinceañeras), the physical act of rubbing genitals with another person is messy and mundane. Conceptually, cooking chilaquiles is a lot more complicated than getting your gross body to secrete fluids.
I hate to go all Sex at Dawn on you, but modern culture has done a number on everybody. Current social taboos still conflate sex with all emotional sensations. A person can be sexually attracted to another while not being intellectually stimulated by them, and that’s fine. But most people still expect every sexual partner to be a perfectly-matched significant other, and that’s dumb.
Very few youngsters internalize a sexually-positive outlook. Their hormones are out of control, just like their clouded, repressed judgement, and too much emotional stock is placed on what could be a fun, pleasing, but ultimately near-meaningless experience — just like cooking chilaquiles.
Deep, rewarding, emotional, or enlightening bonds can be had with just about anyone — your aunt, a garbage man, or even a piece of clothing. You probably can’t have rewarding sex with any of those three — maybe the garbage man, if he’s hot — but you can have good sex with a dumb stranger.
Do it, and don’t feel guilty about it.
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