Sunday, December 3, 2017

Disney Pixar's "Coco" on Borders and Building Bridges


Disney Pixar's "Coco" has been a tremendous box-office success -- and for good reason. It's a compelling, emotional, family-friendly film. And it tells a story of Mexican characters and Mexican culture in a way that resonates with Latinx and Mexican audiences and critics, even causes them to rejoice and celebrate.  See, e.g., NPR: "'Coco' Makes Moviegoers Proud to be Mexican;" Voice of America, "'Coco' Draws Audiences with Celebration of Latino Culture,;" Remezcla, "What Latino Film Critics are Saying About Pixar's 'Coco.'"

Of particular interest to readers is the existence of the border checkpoint in the movie and its relevance to the topic debates over immigration taking place today. As Michael Cavna writes in the Washington Post:

In “Coco,” the path to and from the afterlife involves a border checkpoint, and those trying to cross illegally — including Hector (voiced by Garcia Bernal) — are quickly scooped up by “immigration” guards. The moment is played for laughs, but the Day of the Dead scene is especially resonant because of the real-world political climate, including President Trump’s promises to build a border wall to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico, and his comments such as, “The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”

Cavna's WaPo article suggests that "Coco" speaks to audiences otherwise sympathetic to Trump with its broader themes of family and memory.

The film also speaks to the heartbreak that is inherent in family separation, and the role of borders in facilitating that separation. Of course, in Coco, borders are an inevitable function of death, and the possibilities are arguably far more promising than the political realities currently at play in America. 


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