Movies

Chicano Yaktivists Be Damned; Regular Mexicans Are Wild for Coco, Disney

Coco is legit, which is why people are seeing it in droves.

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Pixar's Day of the Dead-themed Coco was the biggest movie in the United States over the Thanksgiving holiday. The CGI flick gets Mexican culture right yet crosses over to the mainstream with muy Disney messages about the importance of family and finding your own way—¡AJUA!

It's already the top-grossing film ever in Mexico, beating that other paragon of mexicanidad, The Avengers. But it also unwittingly reveals two inconvenient truths about "regular" Mexicans that the Chicano Left will never admit.

Regular Mexicans—that is to say, the vast majority of Mexican Americans, like my cousins who live and breathe Raiders and Dodgers and are too busy working to give a shit about cultural appropriation and other issues that obsess the political left—will gladly support corporations they feel do right by them. And the corollary to that is even when a complaint is legit, the masses won't get up in arms just because aggrieved activists tell them to.

For decades, the Mouse has been a cucuy (the Latin American version of the bogeyman) for Chicano intelligentia. Famous artworks have imagined Mickey as an Aztec sacrifice, as smiling witness to the genocide of Native Americans or as what the New York Times described as an "imperialist icon." Chicano Studies types have long griped over the 1944 live-action cartoon The Three Caballeros for its supposed "commodification of the Latina body" and its simplification of a Mexican rooster character as a "bandito" (never mind that Panchito Pistoles is Donald Duck's pal in the film). I remember a class at UCLA I took in the early 2000s that taught us that the following scene in Pixar's A Bug's Life was a dog whistle for Americans to freak out about the Reconquista. Why? Because it happened in a mosquito cantina!

Disney in the Chicano Left imagination stands for everything evil about the United States: corporate, capitalistic, ignorant of Mexican traditions at best and blatantly racist at worst. The company has deserved such criticisms: In 1994, when Disney donated money to then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, legendary Chicano cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz imaged Mickey as "Migra Mouse" because Wilson had campaigned on the xenophobic Proposition 187, which sought to do all sorts of bad things to illegal immigrants.

More recently—which brings us to Coco—Disney tried to trademark Dia de los Muertos in 2013, in anticipation of their then-untitled film on the subject. A furious online backlash (one that I helped to promote along with Alcaraz, who did a great parody of Mickey as "Muerto Mouse" coming to "trademark your cultura" ) rightfully forced Disney to back off, because their move was tone-deaf and just plain pendejo.

But then Disney did what any smart corporation would do: They hired someone to teach them how to do things right. Better yet, they hired Alcaraz as a cultural consultant for Coco. That led armchair Aztecs to accuse Alcaraz of being a vendido—a sellout. Even allies of Alcaraz engaged in a lot of Facebook hand-wringing and asked Alcaraz why he decided to help his Moby Dick try and tackle a Mexican holiday.

But regular Mexicans gave Disney the benefit of the doubt with Alcaraz on board—or, most likely, never even heard about the controversy. His help proved crucial to ensure Coco's success. And because it's a legit product, Mexicans have supported the film in droves, armchair Aztecs be damned.

This isn't the first time the Chicano Left have swung and missed on Disney with regular Mexicans. For most of this decade, UNITE HERE Local 11 (which represents hotel workers at the Disneyland Resort, the collective name for the Happiest Place on Earth and its low-rent cousin, Disney California Adventure) have aired their complaints to the public, sometimes even dressing up as Disney characters for the camera-friendly spectacle of having Mickey getting taken away in handcuffs after a protest. It's a cause célèbre with progressives in Southern California…and hasn't landed one bit with regular Mexicans, who have openly wondered how bad can a job really be if it has union representation.

Those same activists and fellow travelers have tried to rally the public around the issue of Disney's dealings with Anaheim, the city where Disneyland and California Adventure stand and my hometown. They're right on this subject: For decades, various Anaheim city councils have made el Ratón Mickey happy with subsidies, redevelopment schemes and other favors, few more egregious than a gigantic city-owned parking lot that Disney rents for a dollar a year yet keeps all the revenue.

Alas, that real outrage hasn't impacted Disneyland's standing with regular Mexicans at all. Although the 2016 election ushered in a council majority that's more skeptical of Disneyland, Alcaraz recently revealed that the company's numbers show half of the theme park's attendees are Latino. Hell, I beg and plead with family and friends to boycott Disney over its City Hall shenanigans…yet they all own season passes and tell me if I want to meet up for drinks at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar for one of their stiff, union-made cocktails.

Fact is, they—like the masses in general—know a good product when they see it and resent yaktivists who tell them they should give up real pleasures to score nebulous political points. Disney knows who butters its tortillas, too: All the ride instructions at its Anaheim parks are in English and español. They still air Handy Manny on Disney cable channels for the little ones. The recent DuckTales reboot reimagined Gizmoduck as a Latino (voiced by Puerto Rican Lin-Manuel Miranda, but Mexicans will take him). Coco came out to be a great movie.

And it'll continue to dominate the box office until December 14, when another Disney product pops up: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Chicano activists won't dare protest that film, even though it's even more commercialized than Coco can ever hope to be. Why? Because they'd have to deal with Mexicans who have long remade Star Wars in our image, with everything from a Day of the Dead-esque Darth Vader to the Star Wars theme played by a mariachi to this cholo-fied family. You might even say they appropriated it.

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  1. “…Wilson had campaigned on the xenophobic Proposition 187, which sought to do all sorts of bad things to illegal immigrants.”

    Like not give them tax money?

    1. Came here to say the same thing.

      1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

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    2. Yeah leftists only speak in terms of feels because they can’t win on facts. So instead of explaining what about prop 187 was so bad… nah lefts just say its all xenophobia. Fucking idiots.

      Yeah, not going to trust a single damn thing that person says, since he’s a lying ideologue.

      1. Prop 187 turned every law enforcement agency in CA into immigration enforcement, which undermines trust in the cops and clogs up the already overcrowded prisons.

        It also barred the children of undocumented immigrants from public schools, which they are required to attend, and which their parents property taxes pay for. Which is an odd choice since the kids didn’t have a choice of which side of the imaginary line they were born on, nor did they have a say in their parents travel plans.

        1. Prop 187 turned every law enforcement agency in CA into immigration enforcement, which undermines trust in the cops and clogs up the already overcrowded prisons.

          You mean the LEOs that we don’t exactly want people to trust in the first place and turns them into immigration enforcement by imprisoning them locally?

          And your second point kinda skirts the actual statement that was made, let alone the fact that it fails to address any actual issue with the law and just assumes a clearly delineated or understood good/bad dichotomy.

          Nothing says libertarianism like importing poor people from the countries where we fight our drug wars and ingratiating them to our LEOs.

          1. No one’s “importing” anyone. They are moral agents that come across the border on their own volition. The children maybe, but all children are net negatives to society in the short term. Nothings to say that their children will not contribute more than the parents.

            Also I don’t think being libertarian necessarily means anti-cop. Libertarians are against police abridging freedoms or using unnecessary force. It’s nit a libertarian ‘win’ for people to distrust the cops so much that they fail to report crimes in their community.

            1. The use of “importing” in this context always bugs me as well. Except for refugees, it really is not an accurate way to talk about immigrants.

            2. No one’s “importing” anyone.

              I cede the point with regard to a significant portion or even a majority of immigrants, however it is a rather wide gray area. The H1B Visa program is arguably as much if not more ‘importing’ as the refugee program is and, along the lines of my point, if you’re using or fueling the drug war that forces people out of their native country while simultaneously raising wages locally to attract and naturalize politically monetize them it’s a bit unfair to just act like they are some noble nomadic tribe here for a visit or who just happened to be looking for a place to call home.

        2. It also barred the children of undocumented immigrants from public schools,

          Well, A) it didn’t affect US citizen children at all, and B) the section that banned illegal aliens from public schools was DOA, as SCOTUS had explicitly declared that unconstitutional 12 years earlier/

      2. Feels, not stats, like the feel “they take our taxes” without any supporting facts and ignoring all the contrary facts, like the property taxes and sales taxes they can’t avoid, and the SS and other deductions a lot of them pay?

        Yeh, feels FTW!

        1. I suspect that the illegal immigrants pay less into the school funds than they withdraw. For the obvious reasons.

          1. I really have no idea what to think about that. And it’s a difficult thing to determine since a lot of the taxes are paid indirectly (like property taxes paid by way of landlords) or can’t be precisely tied to particular payers (like sales taxes and excise taxes).

            1. This isn’t hard to figure out. 3 kids at $12,000 a year times 13 years. Almost half a million dollars in taxes.

              Average illegal alien household income of $36,000. Multiply it by, say, 40 years. They’d need a 33% effective tax rate just to pay for school. And that’s not including another $150,000 or so for Medicaid, and then you can add WIC, food stamps, etc which most of them wind up using.

              So do you think they are paying 50% of their incomes in taxes?

              1. Then why is it such a contentious topic? I think you are leaving a lot out and making a lot of assumptions.

                What’s the average income of the US citizen children of illegal immigrants over those 40 years and how much do they pay in taxes? How many illegal immigrants stay permanently with their families?

                1. Also, this means the vast, vast, majority of people aren’t paying anywhere near their keep on that. So once again this sounds like a general issue with the education system and taxation in general, but you don’t call out the American’s who don’t pay their “fair share”, you call out illegal immigrants.

                  1. Once again you force me to state the incredibly obvious point: our poor are our poor. We’re stuck with them, no matter how you feel about them.

                    We choose to allow the illegals to live here.

                    1. … the incredibly obvious point: our poor are our poor.

                      No, actually they’re not our poor. They are “poor”, relative to the standard of living in the 1st world, but that doesn’t make them our responsibility. They very best thing we can do is to stop regulating them out of the labor market, stop regulating the productive market out of prosperity, and stop regulating charities out of their chosen field. Of course, that means illegals will benefit from that too, but what can you do, right?

                2. Then why is it such a contentious topic? I think you are leaving a lot out and making a lot of assumptions.

                  Let me put it like this: when was the last time you saw Reason or any other media source do even a small breakdown like this? It’s contentious because one side has the microphone and the other side has the facts. And yes, I was leaving out a lot of expenses. The actual effective tax rate would have to be higher than 50% for them not to be tax drains

                  What’s the average income of the US citizen children of illegal immigrants over those 40 years and how much do they pay in taxes?

                  That I don’t know. Never been able to find numbers on that, presumably mostly because illegal immigration wasn’t a big thing until about 40 years ago.

              2. Local, state, and federal governments spend roughly $8T a year. That’s roughly $25K for every single person in the country, children included. Is the typical family of four paying $100K in visible direct taxes every year? Are you pulling your weight?

                Income taxes, SS, Medicare don’t even come close to paying all that. The vast majority comes from hidden invisible taxes, and all immigrants pay them one way or another.

                Stop whining about the miserable few thousand dollars you think immigrants aren’t paying in SS, Medicare, etc. It’s peanuts and an excuse to be a xenophobe.

        2. If they’re net taxpayers, then a ban on tax subsidies wouldn’t hurt them all that much, would it?

          1. I mean, they come here illegally to contribute to the economy, right? So really barring them from tax subsidies is a non-issue, they’re too busy making an honest buck to turn to the government! So Prop 187 was a purely hypothetical question and not worth getting worked up over.

            At least that’s how I understand your point.

            1. If you’re born on US soil, you’re an American.

              1. Right, alcibiades, and that has literally nothing to do with 187

            2. They come here to make money. Helping the economy is just a happy side effect. Barring illegal immigrants from using welfare programs and other tax funded subsidies sounds like a fine idea.

              1. Just an slight correction, there.

                Barring illegal immigrants from using welfare programs and other tax funded subsidies sounds like a fine idea.

        3. Many illegals are paid in cash under the table, thereby exempting them from paying into social security and all of the other taxes that WE pay. In addition, their forged IDs and documents allow them to tap into social services, which we also pay for.

          Most also purchase goods second hand, for cash. One of my colleagues used to flip cars and he stated that his best customers were Mexican illegals because they always kept several hundred in cash on hand. Once again, no sales tax paid or collected.

          In CA and other states in which illegals are farm labor, housing is provided by their employer. So the employer is paying those property taxes, not the illegals.

          So where are the “feels” here? These ARE facts.

    3. You mean all that tax money they donate tp the state, the sales tax, property tax, SS, Medi-* tax, all those other taxes?

      1. I’m curious if you can explain to me exactly how undocumented workers who it is illegal to employ still manage to pay income taxes, SSI, Medicare, etc., insofar as they are, by definition, undocumented workers.

        1. Well, about half of them are stealing SSNs to work on the books, and they are at least paying payroll taxes. It’s not nothing.

          1. So they are “illegally” paying payroll & SS taxes, and therefore can’t expect to get any of it back? Sounds like a sweet deal for Americans; what’s the objection?

        2. It’s probably because Scarecrow doesn’t think that identify theft is a crime with a victim, right?

          1. More like you don’t have a clue what you are talking about are are just pulling wild guesses out of your ass.

    4. Simply calling Prop 187 “xenophobic” is not exactly fair, but it’s also not exactly fair to pretend it was just about “not giving them tax money.”

      There was a pretty open “look the other way” policy regarding illegal immigration from Mexico to CA in the 70s and 80s due to the need for migrant farm labor from Baja. In fact, IIRC, there was a certain amount of actual incentivizing of illegal immigration for the benefit of agribusiness in the Central and Imperial valleys.

      Wilson was largely trying to make a name for himself in the national Republican Party in the hopes of running for president, and he waged a fairly loud and xenophobic campaign in favor of Prop 187, which then effectively destroyed his chances at re-election in CA after failing to achieve a presidential nomination.

      1. and he waged a fairly loud and xenophobic campaign in favor of Prop 187, which then effectively destroyed his chances at re-election in CA after failing to achieve a presidential nomination.

        And effectively doomed the Republican party in CA and gave the party an anti-hispanic reputation that hurt it nationwide.

    5. My understanding of Proposition 187 is that it decide who the state gave money it received from the federal government to and the federal courts said that any state the receives federal money has to obey federal rules regarding how they spend it.

  2. You mean the prop that passed with 58% of the vote and was overturned by a leftist judge 5 years later? Not giving money to illegal aliens … Xenophobic my ass.

    1. Right, and 58% is majority rule, so why would any honest libertarian object to any other majority rule? I mean, it just feelz so good, taking away other people’s rights at the stroke of a pen, amiright?

      1. Rights to other people’s stolen money isn’t, ‘rights’. Seems an odd thing to have to point out.

    2. Really? It’s leftism for a judge to say that a state has to obey federal rules regarding the spending of federal money? Also, do the people of a state have the right to decide how the state is allowed to spend federal money?

  3. I just wish Book of Life had done better a few years back. I can only hope the success of Coco leads to someone throwing money at Jorge Gutierrez again.

    1. Personally, I didn’t care for Book of Life. And, for the record, I do believe Coco has been in production longer – Book of Life is essentially a rip-off of Coco that was rushed through production to get it out first.

      1. No, Book of Life was in production a long while as well. They’re ultimately not very similar other than being based around the day of the dead. I did like Book of Life though, it had a lot of charm and I like Gutierrez.

  4. asked Alcaraz why he decided to help his Moby Dick try and tackle a Mexican holiday

    Try to not try and.

    1. I couldn’t glean any meaning whatsoever from his sentence because he failed to adhere to strict grammatikgesetz. Sad!

      1. It would’ve helped if Alcaraz had helped Captain Ahab try to tackle a Moby Dick of a Mexican holiday but grammar, analogies, literature… it’s all American patriarchy… fuck it.

    2. The “try and” construct is very common, frequently used, and absolutely accepted English. You know this because you understand it and you’ve surely seen people use it frequently.

      If you need an authority figure to justify language usage for you though, here’s a dictionary talking about it.

      1. OH NOES! A GRAMMAR SOVIET! Quick, man the Grammar 88s!

      2. *Still confused about how you try and help a whale tackle a holiday.*

        1. cause you should only whack a mole?

  5. “But then Disney did what any smart corporation would do: They hired someone to teach them how to do things right. Better yet, they hired Alcaraz as a cultural consultant for Coco.”

    The shade of Adam Smith salutes you.

  6. It disgusts me that Gustavo Arellano continues to have a voice at Reason. The man is a smug, elitist, condescending racist. Sure, he comes across glib and likable in his columns. But I’ve heard many first-hand accounts of what an insufferable prick he is in person.

    1. …what an insufferable prick he is in person

      Does that get you kicked out of the Libertarian Club now?

      1. Depends on how their ‘prickness’ manifests itself. But someone who harangues a bunch of librarians (publicly and in print) for not knowing about an obscure, Spanish-language bookstore in a neighboring town and attributing their ‘ignorance’ to their skin color and ‘privilege’ does not deserve to be labeled a Libertarian. Still don’t understand why so many people here defend this asshole.

        1. Spanish-language bookstore in a neighboring town and attributing their ‘ignorance’ to their skin color and ‘privilege’ does not deserve to be labeled a Libertarian. Still don’t understand why so many people here defend this asshole.

          And I’m not sure if he identifies as libertarian himself. That being said, what government action did he call for against the librarians?

    2. So no libertarian ever has been smug elitist condescending or racist. Good to know you aren’t one of them either.

      1. A TRUE Libertarian would never mock or judge people based on superficial qualities that are determined at conception and we have no control over. I don’t understand how this controversial.

        1. How about a true Scotsman?

    3. Time to shut down the comments!

    4. I find he comes across as a smug, elitist, condescending racist in his columns too. And I find them to be informative, occasionally infuriating, and always entertaining

      He’s by no means a libertarian or anything close, but a smug elitist calling out smug elitists on how out of touch they are with the working class is still doing God’s work

      1. In what way am I smug or elitist? This should be good…

        1. I was talking about Gustavo the entire time. He calls out smug Latino elitists in this column despite being one himself. Please work on your reading comprehension

          1. Ah…OK. Sorry for being so defensive.

    5. Well, good thing they are only publishing an occasional column and not inviting him to your house.

      If someone I don’t know writes something that I enjoy reading, I don’t really care what they are like in person.

      1. I despise phonies and hypocrites. I have more respect for people who are upfront and honest about their beliefs (especially when I don’t agree with them) than people who publicly pretend to be something they’re not.

        1. Gustavo came out in support of Bernie Sanders. He is openly not a libertarian

          1. Then why does he continue to have a platform at Reason? He already has a regular column at the OC Weekly. He has nothing of value to contribute here.

            1. His OC Weekly column is gone now. He doesn’t even own the name. As far as I know he mostly freelances at the moment, and none of those Latino websites would probably touch a column like this. He’s also friends with Matt Welch, and occasionally takes some liberty-friendly stances on things like cultural appropriation

              There’s also the easy joke here that Reason barely publishes libertarians anyway

              1. Thanks for the insight, Chip. Now that I’ve ranted, time to get back to work. Peace…

              2. Liberty-friendly stances on cultural appropriation? The man wrote an article 3 weeks ago about how Americans are horrible for appropriating Mexican food culture, stealing credit for nachos, and explained “it turned out they were outright lies created to feed into American preconceptions of Mexicans as stupid, lazy beaners”

                1. That’s not really what the article was about, if you read past the headline.

                  Arellano is no kind of libertarian, but he has a pretty reasonable perspective on all of the cultural appropriation nonsense from what I’ve seen.

                  1. We’re Americans, we “steal” from best and that’s why we’re the best..

                    1. To repeat Zeb, that was not what the article was about. The article was about the media repeating easily dispelled myths that encourage certain stereotypes rather than doing any footwork to determine the truth of the matter.

            2. Heh yeah why does Bernie supporter have a voice here?

  7. Also, Disney Junior recently came out with Elena of Avalor, a Latina Princess.

    1. Shit’s crazy popular too. One reason you’re seeing a lot of this is that Latinos have become one of the bigger consumers of traditional media.

  8. Is Mexican Coco the kind with cinnamon in it?

    1. They were originally going to call the movie “Mickey Mouse Meets Coca Cola” but medical advisors suggested that this might give chicano activists strokes.

      1. I will never forgive Micky for not taking advantage of that opportunity.

  9. That cholo-fied star wars cosplay was frickin’ awesome.

  10. Even allies of Alcaraz engaged in a lot of Facebook hand-wringing and asked Alcaraz why he decided to help his Moby Dick try and tackle a Mexican holiday.

    So what you’re saying is a whole bunch of people were trying to…

    Escape from Alcaraz?

    1. Moby Dick escaped from Alcatraz using a very clever disguise.

  11. Knott’s is better.

    1. Knott’s is probably the most ghetto amusement park these days. You’ll get your ass shanked at Knott’s.

      1. You are mistaking Knott’s with Magic Mountain.

  12. Can I still hate Disney because they peddle cartoonish reality that makes people dumber?

    1. It’s not only your right, but your responsibility!

  13. It’s the same people who complain there isn’t enough cultural diversity Hollywood then complain when someone in Hollywood makes a culturally diverse movie like Coco or Moana.

    They have no logic, principles or coherent thoughts, they are just raging meat bags of anger, resentment and isolation.

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