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  • Byron Ellington

How to Enjoy Coco Without Committing Cultural Appropriation

(Written by an actual Mexican-American from Texas.)

white person watching coco

As Halloween comes to a close, many Mexicans of both the Mexican and American varieties will now be putting up ofrendas covered in food, family photos, and other decorations for el Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead, for the crackers). During this time, some people, including white non-Mexicans here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., will likely engage in the spirit of the season by watching Pixar’s 2017 classic, Coco. And while this fun, family-friendly film is for anyone and everyone to enjoy, here are some things that white viewers might want to keep in mind to avoid committing cultural appropriation this Day of the Dead:

  1. As tempting as it may be, do not wear brownface and claim to still be celebrating Halloween by dressing up as Miguel without his calavera face paint (that means “skull,” obviously).

  2. Avoid singing along to “Un poco loco” despite its catchy nature. You will mispronounce everything, and that is a sin greater than any.

  3. Do not speak any of the characters’ names, nor the title of the movie, for you will mispronounce those too. Simply describe the character’s traje (“outfit,” but don’t try to say it in Spanish) every time you wish to refer to them.

  4. Upon finishing the film, do not undergo a sudden and inexplicable shift in personality in which you truly and wholeheartedly believe yourself to be Mexican, to the extent that you are studied in multiple scientific papers and your condition is ultimately chalked up to the rapid onset of a serious mental condition.

  5. If you eat Tex-Mex while watching the film, do not go on long tangents, either talking over the movie or while it is paused, about how culturalmente auténtico (“culturally authentic,” you nitwit) you feel to be eating the characters’ own sort of food. Remember that, though Tex-Mex is delicious, the characters are not Texican-Mexican. Furthermore, this all applies doubly so if you prepared the food yourself and did not get it from a genuine Texstraunt-Mexstraunt.

  6. Even though this is about a completely different (and much less important) holiday, just make sure that before you watch the movie to vow that you will never use the phrase “Cinco de Drinko.” If you don’t, you may find yourself far more overcome by the natural white desire to commit the above crimes; taking the vow will weaken the early European-American colonist on your shoulder, at least for a time.

And there we have it! Obviously, every item on this list is of completely equal gravity, and all would reflect exactly the same on your character. Have fun watching and ¡feliz Día de Muertos! (That means “happy Day of the Dead!”, to any of you who are scratching your heads right now. Yes, that includes you, Charles.)


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