Culture

Here Are 13 Cringeworthy Times That Gringos Totally Ruined Día De Muertos With Cultural Appropriation

First things first: Day of the Dead is a solemn tradition for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Although celebrating it in different ways is great, and culture should be shared rather than zealously kept for oneself, some traditions need to be treated respectfully. 

1. When this model wore this awful jacket and promoted this photo on her Insta.

Credit: Instagram / sophiecochivelou

Seriously, sugar skulls are not always the way to go. And, dear, your face is kinda hidden among all this mess of fabric. 

2. When this poor dog’s owners turned it into a catrina.

Credit: Instagram / izzy_the_chow

Some people just travel great lengths to turn their pets into social media celebrities. News alert: this is not smart, funny or cute. It is just plain weird. Does this classify as near-animal cruelty?

3. When gringos just assume that Day of the Dead is “Mexican” for Halloween…

Credit: Instagram / erin_grant

Dear Erin Grant: what on Earth is this strange melange of traditions? 

4. When they came up with the brilliant idea of making Día de Muertos pumpkins…What the?!

Credit: Instagram / chalkwithlove_insta

Yes, así como lo oyen. Gringos and some gringo-influenced-Latinos have started painting their pumpkins with what looks like a mix between The Nightmare Before Christmas and a sugar skull. Dude, at least make the effort to carve the damn thing! 

5.When they thought making catrinas sexy was cool.

Credit: Instagram / themodelgypsyrose

By eroticizing catrinas, gringos like this super-Anglo model, get it totally wrong. Mexican folklore does not mix sex and death… like, at all! Also, this type of cultural appropriation perpetuates stereotypes of Latinos being hypersexual and lusty (not that there is anything wrong with that…). 

6. When Pinterest and Etsy cultures discovered Day of the Dead and come up with kitschy and horrible ideas.

Credit: Instagram / curiousburrow

First of all, sloths are natives of Costa Rica, not Mexico (despite what some gringos might think, including people in government), Central America is not just an extension of Mexico. Well, we gotta admit this is kinda cute but as far away removed from tradition as possible. 

7. When these boots represented an affront to tradition and to any sense of good taste.

Credit: Instagram / mysugarskulls_com

Gringos tend to throw all non-white things in the same basket. These awful boots are a perfect example: yeah, just have a Native-American moccasin with some sugar skulls. Hey, gringos might even claim that these botitas have mystical powers, hey? Remember that time when white folk hung dream-catchers everywhere?! 

8. When Day of the Dead became Insta-ready.

Credit: Instagram / littlebongbaddie_

Don’t you miss those times when not everything was staged and ready to be photographed? Scenes like these are sorta tiernas, but so far removed from the more rustic and spontaneous spirit of Day of the Dead. Seriously, this looks like out of a Pottery Barn catalog y’all. 

9. When the James Bond franchise fabricated a parade that was full of every single cliche imaginable.

Credit: 007: Spectre / Columbia Pictures

Let’s get something straight: contrary to what is shown in the Hollywood extravaganza Spectre, Mexico City did not use to celebrate Day of the Dead with a huge parade that looks more like Mardi Gras (we love Mardi Gras by the way!) than a solemn celebration. But the city saw an opportunity for tourism and is now organizing a James Bond-style parade each year. Yes, Hollywood cultural appropriation at its peak! 

10. When some racist dudes hate Mexicans but love their best traditions

This tweet captures the sentiment perfectly. On one hand some gringos reject anything that is Latino or the idea of immigration. But if it has to do with colonizing a festivity and do so with low racist undertones, they are all there. Sounds familiar?

11. When brands just wanna make a quick buck.

Credit: Promotional shot / Old El Paso

As if Old El Paso didn’t have a long history of cultural and culinary appropriation, they often use Day of the Dead as a marketing ploy to lure unsuspecting customers. Look, we all love some good Tex-Mex, but let’s not forget that this food is not really Mexican. 

12. When slot machine companies want to fool paisanos into losing their money.

One of the most predatory industries in the world is the gambling entertainment complex, particularly when it comes to slot machines. The practice of including imagery that could trigger a cultural connection with gambling has been widely criticized, as it masks the fact that gambling is potentially dangerous when it comes to issues of addiction. Not cool at all. 

13. And seriously, we can’t get over the Día de Muertos pumpkins

What is this atrocity? Fuchi! At least make a bit of an effort, dude. 

Throwback: Remember When Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos?

Entertainment

Throwback: Remember When Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos?

shot_by_prum_ty / Instagram

Since Disney Plus launched on November 12, people have been swept up in all the family-friendly chaos, indulging in a long list of classic Disney favorites. While the streaming service also plans to offer new original content, the company is definitely taking advantage of our generation’s lust for nostalgia, providing exclusive access to the Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic franchises (and reminding us how much Disney dominated our youth with films like The Lion King, The Cheetah Girls, and Gotta Kick It Up). Honestly, the list of iconic feel-good films is outrageously long, and it’s easy to understand why everyone’s so excited.

But it’s no secret that Disney’s wholesome image has been blemished by a long, varied history of controversy and criticism. While Disney has been accused of sexism and plagiarism numerous times, one of the most notable topics of discussion in recent years has been the company’s tendency to racially stereotype its characters, a propensity that is  especially notable in early Disney films (though many scholars and film critics argue that this has carried into the 21st century, despite Disney’s attempts to be more culturally sensitive).

On many occasions, Disney has acknowledged the racist nature of its older animated films, like Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats. In the descriptions for several programs on Disney Plus, there is a brief warning about the “outdated cultural stereotypes” contained within each film, and while several people view this disclaimer as a sign of progress, Disney has been criticized for making a bare minimum effort toward addressing the problematic elements of its past.

And speaking of the company’s past, how could we forget the time that Disney tried to trademark the term “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead”?

Credit: Pinterest / The Walt Disney Company

Back in 2013, Disney approached the US Patent and Trademark Office with a request to secure “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead” across many different platforms. At the time, an upcoming Pixar movie with a Día de los Muertos theme (read: the early stirrings of Coco) was in the works, and Disney wanted to print the phrase on a wide range of products, from fruit snacks to toys to cosmetics. Por supuesto, Disney received major backlash for trying to trademark the name of a holiday—what is more culturally appropriative than claiming ownership over an entire celebration? Especially one with indigenous roots?

“The trademark intended to protect any potential title of the movie or related activity,” a spokeswoman for Disney told CNNMexico at the time. “Since then, it has been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our application for trademark registration.”

But prior to withdrawing their application, Disney received extensive backlash from the Latnix community. Latinos all over social media expressed their disdain for Disney’s bold and offensive attempt to take ownership of the holiday’s name, even starting a petition on Change.org to halt the whole process. Within just a few days, the petition had garnered 21,000 signatures.

Although Disney didn’t acknowledge whether the online uproar had influenced them to retract their trademark request, they were clearly paying attention. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American editorial cartoonist, had expressed open disdain at what he called Disney’s “blunder,” creating “Muerto Mouse”—a cartoon criticizing said blunder—in response.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz / Pocho.com

This wasn’t the first time Alcaraz had criticized Disney with his cartoons. After the trademark fiasco, Disney definitely caught wind of Alcaraz’s position, and in an effort to approach the upcoming Día de los Muertos movie with sensitivity, the company hired him to work as a cultural consultant on the film.

Although several folks celebrated this development, Alcaraz was widely denounced for collaborating with Disney—many people called him a “vendido,” accusing him of hypocritically selling out to the gringo-run monolith against which he had previously spoken out. But Alcaraz stood his ground, confident that his perspective would lend valuable influence to the movie and ultimately prevent Pixar from doing the Latinx community a disservice.

“Instead of suing me, I got Pixar to give me money to help them and do this project right,” Alcaraz said. “I was let down because I was hoping people would give me a little bit of credit for the stuff I’ve done; to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

And, sin duda, Coco emerged as one of the most culturally accurate films that Disney has ever produced. Employing an almost exclusively Latino cast and crew, Coco seamlessly captured the beauty, magic, and wonder of Día de los Muertos, depicting the holiday with reverence and respect. And after becoming the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico, it’s safe to say that Coco helped Disney bounce back from its trademark mishap, even if more controversy is bound to emerge in the future.

There’s An Indigenous Fashion Week In Canada And OMG It Looks Incredible

Fierce

There’s An Indigenous Fashion Week In Canada And OMG It Looks Incredible

VancouverIndigenousFashionWeek / Instagram

A fashion week is a fashion industry event — pretty self-explanatory, we know. The event, as the name says it, lasts approximately one week. And it’s a platform where fashion designers, brands or “houses” display their latest collections in runway shows to buyers and the media.

These events influence trends for the current and upcoming seasons and they’re pretty notorious for being somewhat elitist, lacking in representation and inclusivity. Indigenous Fashion Week decided to take matters into their own hands and they’ve been hosting an event that presents the most progressive fashion, textiles and crafts by Indigenous artists.

At the intersection of art, fashion and culture, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, features works by Native Canadian women.

IFW presents Indigenous-made fashion, textiles and craft, and it’s committed to exploring the connections between mainstream fashion, Indigenous art and traditional practice through presentations for broad audiences and industries.

IFW is bold, inclusive and accessible.

This fashion week challenges perceptions of, and celebrates Indigenous people and their culture with integrity, innovation and excellence. Founder and producer Joleen Mitton says the event is about far more than just celebrating Indigenous clothing designers.

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week kicked off with a red dress gala in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The red dress has become a symbol of resilience for many, and Mitton says that during IFW it will be featured to raise awareness about ongoing violence against Indigenous women. “That’s why the red dress event still exists,” she says. “I wish it didn’t have to, but it’s something that we keep on needing to talk about. If we can somehow tackle any issue with fashion, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The former model says she hopes the event can help create deeper connections between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Mitton has spent years mentoring Indigenous girls who grew up in foster care in Canada and never knew much about their culture. She’s recruited some of them to be the face of the fashion show, and helped them reclaim their First Nations heritage through fashion.

The event encourages Indigenous people to openly celebrate their culture which has a long history of being subjugated in Canada.

For decades, the Canadian government banned First Nations potlatch — a traditional ceremony that included gift-giving, feasting and dancing. Today, Indigenous Fashion Week in Vancouver brings traditional regalia —from traditional patterns of blankets to capes displaying family animal crests— to the runway for all to see.

Mitton wants this Fashion Week to inspire young people and help them be proud of their culture and traditions.

“Indigenous fashion isn’t just about looking good, it’s about reclaiming parts of who we are,” said Mandy Nahanee, a First Nations storyteller and educator. “We can show our young people this is how beautiful, and amazing, and talented we are, that you should be walking down runways and standing tall with your chin up, being proud of who you are. We need everyone in the world to know that we’re still here.”