Entertainment

Pixar Hired Cultural Consultants To Help With ‘Coco’ And It Looks Like They Definitely Helped Shape The Movie

Several years ago, Disney sparked a bit of controversy when they attempted to trademark “Dia de los Muertos.” Although they weren’t trying to trademark the holiday itself – the filing was for the title and related merchandise for an animated film – the move was seen as an attempt to cash in on a holiday that is sacred to many. After a backlash from the Latino community, Disney/Pixar withdrew its trademark attempt and eventually hired one of its vocal critics, cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, as a consultant.

“My first reaction was ‘Wow. Is this for real? Should I do this? It’s pretty risky. Are they going to ask me to just rubber stamp stuff, or are they going to listen to what I have to say, cuz, you know, I have strong opinions,'” says Alcaraz. “My second reaction was, ‘PIXAR WANTS TO TALK TO ME.’ A combination of joy and terror.”

Pixar

Fast forward to today, and Disney/Pixar is just a little over a month away from the release of “Coco,” a Dia de los Muertos-themed film that appears to honor and respect the holiday as it is celebrated in Mexico.

After viewing the first 30 minutes, it’s clear Disney/Pixar worked hard to create a film that authentically captures the feel of Dia de los Muertos.

Co-director Lee Unkrich hopes the film resonates with those who celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

“We hope that our audience in those communities feel like we got it right,” he says. “That we spent the time to get the details right. That we dove deep and really did our best to come to understand the traditions and the intricacies of the holiday, and communicate it in a way that spoke to those communities but was also accessible to everyone in the world.”

Pixar

As important as telling a story that resonates with both Latino and non-Latino audiences is to co-director Adrian Molina, he also understands the importance of representation for Latinos.

“One really beautiful thing about this film, in particular, is to be able to feature a Mexican family, to be able to feature Mexican protagonists,” he says. “I think there’s something really beautiful and necessary about being able to see yourself up on screen – see yourself as the hero. For a Mexican-American or Mexican family to be able to go together and have that experience, I think that would be a unique thing that they could share in watching this film.”

Marcela Davison Aviles (President and CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corporation in San Jose, Calif.), playwright Octavio Solis and political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz were brought on by Pixar as cultural advisors for “Coco.”

When asked how big of a role Pixar’s cultural advisors had in shaping the film, director Lee Unkrich revealed Pixar did something they’ve “never done on any other film” by inviting the team of cultural advisors as well as other figures in the Latino community from across the country to every one of their screenings.

Pixar

Alcaraz says each advisor brought something different to the table: “We each gave individual notes, we each have different strengths, so it was good to feel like between all three of us, the team members had it all covered. Marcela is a musical expert and writes extensive notes like a lawyer (because she is a Harvard trained lawyer) and makes me feel like I am a lazy slob. Octavio is a playwright and performer, and is really good on the theatrical aspects of the production. Me, I’m the cynical angry cholo whose strength is sometimes looking at things literally and catching what most people might miss. What a motley dream team!”

Unkrich, who co-directed “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2,” says the cultural advisers were an integral part of the filmmaking process.

“Some of them were very wary about what we were doing and not sure about what our intentions were and how seriously we were taking it, but I think we put them at ease pretty quickly,” he says. “But [we] also made them feel comfortable giving us, sometimes, big notes. We made some big changes in the story based on the input that we got from the advisers.”

Alcaraz says they wanted to film to feel authentic but not didactic.

“I looked for elements of the film and story that could be misconstrued as stereotypical or racist. I looked to include more Mexican elements in the film when possible, like additional Spanish in the dialogue, and made suggestions on specific words. I listened for pronunciations of Spanish words to make sure they didn’t sound off. I think we struck a good balance on giving comments that helped the cultural authenticity of the story without bogging it down as if it were some kind of Dia de los Muertos documentary.”

Pixar

Alcaraz believes that Pixar’s hard work on the film will lead “Coco” to resonate far beyond the Mexican/Mexican community in the U.S. and Mexico.

“This movie will resonate with family, and will also send out good family vibes to everyone out there, Mexican/Latino or not. This is a time that we need to show how beautiful and rich other cultures can be, and how The Other is not scary, but just a person who happens to not be you. Like one of the Pixar fans out there in Twitterlandia said, ‘While some build walls, Pixar builds bridges.’ Also, the beauty of Mexico comes across clearly here, and also a note to the viewers and to future studios where I will be pitching movie ideas: Brown people sure do look really nice animated.”

We Saw A Preview Of Pixar’s ‘Coco’ And Here’s All The Cool Stuff To Look For When You Watch It

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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