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The merits of cultural appropriation? Guitar sales have spiked in Mexico post-Coco



Recently Gustavo Arellano Miranda, a well-known writer for Pocho and the LA Times, penned a very interesting column on the success of Disney-Pixar’s Coco. Gustavo essentially defended Lalo Alcaraz, the Mexican-American cartoonist who worked on Coco as a consultant, from a group of Chicanos who accused Lalo of selling out. Part of the argument stemmed from the fact that Disney was appropriating Mexican culture to make a buck while giving very little back.

The merits or demerits of cultural appropriation can be deeply examined some other time — or here, in the comments, go for it — but as of today we’ll be able to argue that Disney-Pixar’s culling of our culture has, whether naysayers like it or not, brought economic benefit to some Mexican residents, specifically, Paracho’s guitar makers.

According to El País, guitar makers from the little Mexican town, which is located in the Mexican state of Michoacán, and is renowned for its guitarreros, has seen an huge spike in its guitar sales post-Coco. Many of the local guitar makers have begun modeling their instruments after the movie’s white, skull-inspired design, and people are loving them:

“Guitarists and merchants can not keep up with the demand for the peculiar instrument. Behind the sideboard of her shop, María Eugenia Gómez says she was not ready for ‘Coco fever.’ ‘If I had 1,000 guitars, I would sell them all,’ says the 76-year-old woman, who loved the film and predicts that sales will continue for a long time.”

There’s some eerie similarities between Coco, who’s main protagonist works together with his family to make shoes — or is supposed to — and one Paracho guitarrero named Salvador Meza:

“Of the 50 guitars he used to produced weekly, he’s now up to 100. ‘Normally, I work in my house with my wife and a friend, but now we added my comadre, my nephew, and a cousin… ¡Todos quedamos locos con el Coco!'”

I really hate to sound like a Disney-appropriation-alt-right-tons-of-other-millennial-academic-terms apologist, but besides making our peoples some good dough, the Coco craze is also getting a new generation of Mexicans into playing music — so, you know, an actual art form.

As I argued before, Disney was going to make the damn movie with or sans the outrage, so Mexicans are making the most out of a no-win situation.

Now, trivia time: Apparently the Coco guitar was designed by a michocanano name of Germán Vázquez. The guitar maker moved to Los Angeles 25 years ago, where he manged to set up his own shop. At 64, Vázquez said he identified with Miguel, Coco‘s protagonist:

“[Miguel] wanted to be a musician and found a way to become one. He fought and struggled until he succeeded. I am also like Miguelito: A fascinated guitarist.”

You still haven’t seen Coco? Here’s what I think of the movie — but it has spoilers, so read at your own risk.


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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?

Shoot us an email with ideas: (@) gmail dot com, or use the contact form, or reach out privately is you follow us on social media.

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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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