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

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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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María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career

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According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.

Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.

Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:

“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”

Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:

“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”

If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:

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Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”

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I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.

I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”

I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”

She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”

I wasn’t following her logic.

Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.

“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.

“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”

I stared at her in disbelief.

She stood up and walked towards the doorway.

Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.

From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.


Felix III – Journeys the cosmos via Holy Hands Vol. 2. Rents a one-bedroom on Neptune. IG: @Futurefelix / Twitter: @thefuturefelix


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