You see cultural representations in movies, television, books and elsewhere. But have you ever considered how those artistic representations shape real people’s perceptions?
In 2017, moviegoers were enamored with Disney’s animated film Coco, which celebrated the beauty of traditions surrounding Día de los Muertos through the adventures of young Miguel as he discovers his family’s history and the origins of his musical talent.
Ohio State Professor Frederick Luis Aldama teaches courses on Latinx and Latin American cultural phenomena. (“Latinx” is a term inclusive to all, whether they identify as Latino, Latina or prefer not to be identified as a specific gender. It also marks the wound of a shared colonized legacy of exploitation and oppression.)
Coco might have finally gotten the Latinx story right, Aldama said, in terms of both content — creating a complex range of characters that make up the Latinx familia — and also in its shaping: Adrian Molina helms as co-director; Latinx creators such as Lalo Alcaraz and Octavio Solis serve as cultural consultants; and Latinx voice actors give life to the characters.
“Coco killed it at the box office, largely because our Latinxs in the U.S. and Mexico are hungry for these carefully crafted stories, buying tickets over and over again, and for all the family,” Aldama said.
For every Coco, unfortunately, there are examples of missed opportunities — where negative stereotypes are reinforced. In this Minute Professor, Aldama explains why it’s important for media consumers to be aware and vigilant.